Free Textbooks, Quality Courses, Student Engagement, and More!

(What You Missed at ETOM 2014)

Educational Technology Organization of Michigan (ETOM) Theater graphic. The running headliner is the keynote speech, titled "Open Educational Resources"November was an especially stimulating month for several Macomb faculty and members of the CTL staff. On November 7th, we trekked northeast to attend the 2014 Educational Technology Organization of Michigan (ETOM) Fall Conference at St. Clair County Community College. Through a multitude of breakout sessions, this conference spotlighted faculty and staff from Michigan colleges and universities, giving them a space to share how they use technology to enrich education.

We tracked down a couple of participants and asked them to share their experience.

Free Teaching Materials: The keynote speaker, James Glapa-Grossklag, discussed the necessity of bringing college material costs down and making content more accessible to students using Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are teaching, learning, and research materials that permit free use and repurposing. Glapa-Grossklag may be the most qualified advocate for OER, as he is the president of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources. He reminded attendees that knowledge and ideas can be given away without ever leaving the person who shared them.

“Education is a renewable resource,” he said.

And with the internet’s wide reach, available knowledge and ideas are more accessible than ever before. By supporting OER, we have the opportunity to save students from having to choose between spending hundreds of dollars on a textbook or struggling without it throughout the semester.

Following the keynote were the break-out sessions, each with a variety of presentations to attend.

Improving Course Quality: Quality Matters is a nationally-recognized standard for online course design. While Macomb Community College only recently began adopting its policies to review courses, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) has been using it along with Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Quality Scorecard for much longer. In their presentation, An Attack on all Fronts: A Multifaceted Approach to Impact Quality!, the LTU eLearning Services team explained the work they put into improving their Management online degree program. And their dedication shows! In recognition of LTU’s Global Strategic Management course, Blackboard recently presented them with an Exemplary Course award.

How did they achieve all this success? “They had a great deal of input and support from the faculty,” said Tom Bradley (CTL Instructional Technologist). Faculty want their online courses to be successful and considered equal to their on-ground counterparts.

Interactive Technology: According to our faculty, Engaging Students With and Without Technology was the standout presentation at the conference. Brenda Alward (Health and Human Services) and Jonathan Oaks (Mathematics) took note of the learning technologies presented, especially Kahoot! This tool allows instructors to create online quizzes, discussions, or surveys and dispense them to students in class.

“I plan to use Kahoot! with my calculus class in the upcoming weeks as a way to engage students with a quick in class assessment,” said Oaks.

Oaks’ enthusiasm for student collaboration and participation is no surprise; prior to this presentation, he led his own breakout session earlier that day, Using Games and Technology in the Classroom. “Jon is doing great stuff with technology,” said Bill Drummond (CTL Instructional Technology Specialist), “using activities and games to get students to think.  His use of the environment as a place where math lives is exciting.”

Alward also intends to incorporate Kahoot! in her courses. “Our students are very interested in technology,” she said, “and this is one way to ‘hook’ them into interacting with the content.”

Our faculty and staff exited the conference feeling rejuvenated and grateful for the experience. “I walked away from each session that I attended with at least one idea, principle, or best practice that I could immediately apply in my classroom,” said Oaks.

For more on Oaks’ experience at ETOM, visit his blog site here.

Visit the ETOM 2014 Fall Conference page here to access available resources from the sessions.


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