While acknowledging that MOOC’s—massive open online courses—are not the solutions to all of public higher education’s problems, President Dianne F. Harrison encouraged campus faculty to consider using technological tools and teaching innovations including Apple’s iPad and educational apps to help prepare students for the 21st century.
“The design of a typical classroom course is now ripe for innovation,” said Harrison at California State University, Northridge’s annual Faculty Retreat. “I encourage you to find and discover the most effective formats for our students. Rethink how to better use classroom time and space.
Harrison, who titled her speech, “Accelerating Success and Shining Brighter: Lessons from Innovators,” said part of her job as president is to find ways to help “CSUN shine more brightly” by describing possible strategies for accelerating the success of students and faculty.
The president urged faculty to consider participating in a pilot initiative that would provide training on how to use and incorporate the iPad and other educational tools into the classroom and how faculty might use iBooks Author to generate dynamic, low cost e-textbooks. She said the initiative would provide California State University, Northridge faculty access to Apple’s infrastructure, including global capacity and their 24/7 educational innovators team. She hopes to negotiate a plan for discounts for faculty and a proposal that would make it possible for every full-time student to purchase an iPad for as little as $75 a semester for two years, a cost that most financial aid packages would cover.
Harrison’s remarks were made during her keynote address on Jan. 14. She said her call for consideration of “new innovations” was spurred in part by the deluge of recent articles on the topic and an educational conference sponsored earlier this month by the 20 Million Minds Foundation at UCLA. She noted that Gov. Jerry Brown has set aside $10 million in his proposed CSU budget for online courses to enable more students to complete “bottleneck” courses.
More than 170 faculty attended the two-day retreat held in CSUN’s University Student Union and ended on Jan. 15. The event was opened with a welcome from Faculty President Steven Stepanek ’73 (Math), M.S. ’80 (Computer Science) and retreat co-chair Greg Knotts.
The retreat included a variety of panels and presentations including “CSUN Faculty and Community Partners: Mapping Pathways to Success Through Student Internships,” “Modern Teacher’s Toolkit: Simple Technologies You Can Incorporate Into Your Teaching Today,” and “Student Pathways in an Artistic Milieu.” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand offered the closing remarks.
During President Harrison’s presentation, Deone Zell from Academic Technology provided a tutorial on how faculty can use the iPad to create e-textbooks and Department of Biology’s Cheryl Van Buskirk demonstrated how she uses the iPad to teach.
Event organizers said the retreat provides an opportunity for the president to offer insight on campus priorities and for the faculty to exchange ideas and showcase their work.
“This is an opportunity to really highlight some amazing parts of our university,” said Greg Knotts, co-chair of the retreat and faculty in elementary education.
Several of the deans and others expressed an interest in using the iPad and other technology in their colleges. S.K. Ramesh, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, said he is working on a pilot project funded by the U.S. Department of Education HSI-STEM grant to provide iPads to transfer students and the faculty who will be working with these students to “enhance communication, engagement, collaboration and creativity.”
At the end of the event, Emily Thom a professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development, said the retreat provided a “wonderful opportunity” to learn more about CSUN.
“It’s made me really proud of this university and the great things we are doing,” Thom said.