2020-22 Teaching and Learning with Technology Faculty Reflects on Work


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Eight faculty from Penn State’s two campuses and six colleges have worked as a team on Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning over the past two years as part of the 2020-22 TLT faculty program. Their goal was to increase student engagement through technology.

Faculty colleagues are selected through an application process. They can partner with TLT to test and develop innovative opportunities in their teaching and research, and share their innovations more broadly across Penn State and higher education. In addition, they work to transform courses by using technology-based learning methods designed to directly support the goals of the university, campus, or college.

“The Student Teacher Program is a longstanding signature program at TLT, and it reflects our deep commitment to creativity, experimentation, and faculty collaboration,” said TLT Interim Director Crystal Ramsay. “We are always excited to work with teachers who are passionate about innovation in teaching and learning.”

As the next Faculty Grants team members began work, the previous group shared lessons learned from their work.

Justin Brown, Adrian Barragan, and Jamie Garcia Prudencio – Embedded Technology in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science

Barragan, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences; Brown, Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences; Thanks to a TLT grant, Prudencio, assistant professor of agricultural Spanish in the College of Agricultural Sciences, created a series of 360-degree videos to teach undergraduate students about deer anatomy.

The team worked with technology experts to create a series of seven videos designed to teach the anatomy of white-tailed deer’s biological systems, how deer adapt biologically to their environment, and techniques for examining body tissues and organs.

In addition, the team explored other opportunities to incorporate this technology into the classroom and created additional educational videos to familiarize students with standard veterinary and animal management field procedures such as moose trapping and dairy cow milking.

They sought and recently received funding opportunities to support these efforts 2022 APS Innovative Learning Award.

Margaret Hoffman – The PILLAR Project: An Immersive Place-Based Course in Landscape Mapping

Hoffman, an assistant professor of landscape contracting in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Plant Sciences, has focused on developing and implementing student engagement experiences in landscape contracting, including active learning, alternative assessments, and the use of virtual reality to create student constructs. future careers. The award coincided with the onset of the pandemic, making student engagement even more important despite the many new challenges.

To increase students’ understanding of landscape principles in design, the team created a large library of 360-degree tours and video experiences to show students regional differences in hardscape materials, construction techniques, design styles, and plant materials. Hoffman hopes to expand the library over time and partner with other landscape contracting programs across the United States.

The 360-Degree Classroom Project is the centerpiece of an institutional review board-approved study to measure the success of 360-degree content (viewed with Meta Quest 2 headsets) in meeting program goals and increasing student engagement. Preliminary findings show that students’ willingness and support for using such materials in landscape design courses is high.

According to the results of the project, it has been implemented throughout the university Immersive Travel Pilot.

Tom Hogan – Virtual Transformational Leadership Development Experience

Hogan, a professor of human resource management practices in the College of Liberal Arts’ School of Labor and Employment, pioneered an innovative approach to creating the classroom of the future. The Virtual Transformational Leadership Development (VTLD) experience helps develop agents of change in pursuit of a more civil, equitable and just workplace, society and world.

Students a Harvard University Self-Assessment Tool and measure their growth throughout the course in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. They will also engage in reflective exercises on a variety of leadership and equity topics, and journal online to increase self-reflection, self-awareness, and awareness.

Training is also included Learn LinkedIn and meditation and mindfulness practice modules from the perspective of a business leader in promoting health and happiness. These technologies are designed to shift the student’s thinking to others, to their context, and to their world.

Launched in the Fall 2021 semester, this field of study is slated to be introduced as a general education, cross-domain, cross-listed course in the Fall 2023 semester.

Students participating in the VTLD experience from all campuses can work with artists at Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts to create artistic connections as change agents for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in business management. This academic year, the College of Liberal Arts’ Director of Digital Learning and Scholarship plans to help integrate the software into the VTLD experience.

Randy McEntaffer – Exploring the Universe in Virtual Reality

Through his TLT grant, McEntaffer, a professor in the Department of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, researched how virtual reality applications can replace classroom content in introductory astronomy courses.

Astronomy courses are currently heavily enrolled, and practical ways to engage students in the material are limited. VR creates an immersive experience that creates an almost limitless environment and allows for a better understanding of concepts.

This project was carried out in two phases. In Phase 1, they tested the usability of VR hardware and software to ensure app controlability. Space titans. Students were also encouraged to provide verbal feedback on their experiences to gauge their reactions. In Phase 2, they used Titans of Space to answer questions for extra credit in an introductory astronomy course.

As students found it difficult to read the on-screen questions while using VR headsets in Phase 1, the team recommends supporting further research to gather student feedback when using VR.

Dawn Pfeifer Reitz – Power Skills Suite

Pfeiffer Reitz, adjunct professor at Penn State Berks and coordinator of CAS 100, created the Power Skills Suite to help students and recent graduates master skills such as oral and written communication, critical thinking, and professionalism.

The Power Skills Suite includes: a forward-looking informational website and Canvas courses and users can earn two levels of badges to display on LinkedIn or other platforms.

The project was developed on Penn State’s digital token platform and will transition to a new mode of content delivery and micro-credentials in 2023.

Jan Reimann – Learning math with the Jupiter Notebook

Reimann, an associate professor of mathematics in the Eberly College of Science, used his fellowship to create a Jupyter Notebooks-based platform for sharing open-source content, then authored and hosted accessible, interactive course content.

The team used the platform to redesign the Math 110 Technical Computing model and test it in spring 2022. Replacing commercial textbooks with interactive Jupyter Notebooks reduced the cost per student by approximately $100. They continued to run the redesigned Math 110 in the fall, and Google Analytics data for October showed nearly 3,000 active users of the interactive course content.

The team continues to integrate new interactive elements, including new learning activities that utilize the versatility of spreadsheets, to help enrich elementary mathematics education through a data science perspective in the final chapter.

The infrastructure can be used to deliver content in a variety of formats, including e-books, interactive spreadsheets, and QTI exams that can be imported into Canvas. The system also offers a flexible and cost-effective cloud deployment workflow that overcomes the frequent obstacles to using Jupyter Notebook in the classroom.

To learn more about TLT’s faculty program, please email us fellows@psu.edu.



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