August 20, 2012 12:00AM
A large group of Pittsburg State University faculty members spent Wednesday talking about innovative ways to engage a new generation of students in the act of learning. About 145 participated in the discussion about course redesign.
Dr. Virginia Rider, a professor in the Biology Department, said it didn’t surprise her that so many faculty wanted to participate in Professional Development Day.
“Anytime faculty have an opportunity to improve their teaching, they are eager to do so,” Rider said. “We are all here for the same reason.”
The day began with keynote addresses from Dr. Phil Turner, professor emeritus at the University of North Texas and author of “Next Generation Course Redesign,” and Dr. Brenda McCoy, director of applied professional programs at the University of North Texas. The two have been deeply involved in the Next Generation Course Design program an UNT, which has resulted in a group of courses designated NextGen.
Those courses, Turner said, consist of a blend of large group lectures, small group experiential learning activities and media-rich interactive online learning. Lectures, he said, account for just 0-30 percent of the content.
Turner said the goal of the NextGen project was primarily to improve student learning and to do so in a way that doesn’t cost more and uses less space. To be successful, he said, faculty must enjoy and believe in the process.
McCoy said today’s students, who have grown up in a digital world, are different from those of just a decade ago. Faculty, she said, must accept the profound social changes and adapt.
Rider agreed with McCoy’s observations about students.
“Students do seem to have a much shorter attention span,” Rider said, “and they are attached as if by an umbilical cord to their cell phones.”
Following the keynote addresses, several PSU faculty conducted sessions on ways they have redesigned courses to engage students. The sessions covered topics such as “Creating Online Awesomeness,” “Bring the ‘Real World’ to the Classroom through Thematic Learning,” “Integrating iPade Use into Course Redesign,” and “A Flipped Classroom in Criminal Justice: Using Technology and Active Class Sessions to Enhance Deep Learning.”
Frieden said the day was a great success and provided a good foundation for continuing the annual event.