Training Prepares Educators to Leverage Technology in Classrooms

Instructors sit facing each other holding iPads and discussing course information

This fall, more than 10,000 first-year students will arrive at all five campuses of The Ohio State University with a common set of technology. In May, 78 instructors participated in the first Digital Flagship Educators cohort to learn, collaborate and develop courses that will leverage that new common toolset. 

Digital Flagship Educators is the instructor-facing component of the broader initiative and strives to establish a connected and supported community of practice among those who teach at Ohio State. 

“After Digital Flagship was announced, we received a lot of questions about technology for staff and instructors,” said Tara Koger, Digital Flagship Educator Program Manager. “The initiative is foremost a student success initiative. This means our programming related to faculty has to focus on student needs and prioritize development of the fluencies needed after graduation. That is the intention of the Educator cohorts.”

A diverse group of faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and instructors from all six Ohio State campuses were selected to participate in the initial Digital Flagship Educators cohort. These instructors attended four days of training and received the same technology kits as first-year students. In the 2018-19 school year, participants designated one section of their course as “iPad Enhanced,” ensuring that all students are equipped with the same tools so they can facilitate meaningful skill development through their curriculum.

The professional development training occurred in Campbell Hall on May 10, 17 and 18, and consisted of a variety of activities designed to build skills and provide opportunities for collaboration. On May 11, cohort participants attended the Innovate conference.

Training days focused on both tactical and theoretical knowledge building. Sessions on iOS setup and best practices gave instructors new to the platform important base skills, while sessions about new tools such as Padcaster or Explain Everything provided new potential avenues for instructors to encourage students to show their learning in new ways. An overall aim of the training design was to target strategies for student engagement and active assessment rather than the tools themselves.

Cohort training also focused on a thoughtful understanding of the role of technology in the classroom and curriculum. 

“Sometimes people assume that building fluencies for students after they leave Ohio State only means developing hard technical skills,” Koger said. “But it is more so education that builds their sense of competence and literacies in technology so they feel confident as they enter the next stage of their career or education.”

Sessions focused on affordability, student experience, assessment and project building. Paired with customized course design support, it all combined to enable instructors to build out a customized plan of how they planned to integrate iPad into their classroom.

“I am thinking a lot about how to make the digital literacy skills I want my students to develop as part of my course scaffolding,” said Elizabeth Wellman, a cohort participant teaching Criticizing Television in the fall. “I am planning to design short introductory activities that build in metacognitive reflection along with skill development.”

These training sessions, paired with Digital Flagship staff support and a community of peers enrolled in a Carmen course for the initiative, will provide cohort members support long past their time together in May, with the ultimate goal of providing courses that leverage technology in meaningful ways.  

“The most important part of approaching teaching with technology is being comfortable with it as a tool and focusing on doing something purposeful with the technology to meet specific learning goals and objectives,”  Cory Tressler, Director of Learning Programs, said. “This cohort is designed to facilitate those things. It’s not technology integration for its own sake-- it’s about supporting meaningful learning outcomes for all students.”

Applications for a 2019 cohort will open up later this year and instructors interested in participating can learn more about the program on the Digital Flagship website and are encouraged to sign up for instructor updates to be notified when applications are released.