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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Digital Classroom

UMass Boston is going digital. Soon, students will be able to get their classroom lessons delivered on laptops during class and instructors will be able to pull references and slides off the Internet right onto a classroom screen.Slowly but surely, digital classrooms are finding a place on campus, and seminars have been held to help instructors learn how to use the new technology.Sponsored by the Instructional Technology Center, a Division of Corporate, Continuing and Distance Education (CCDE), the Digital Classroom Seminar Series addresses how emerging technologies are impacting college classrooms. Eileen McMahon, instructional designer and trainer, and Katharine Galaitsis, director of CCDE, have produced these forums for the past two years. Meant to expose faculty members and staff to different trends and technologies, the forums take place the second Wednesday of every month during the spring and fall semesters in the faculty staff lounge, located on the 11th floor of the Healey Library. Starting in September, the location will change to the Campus Center. The next seminar will be held on Wednesday, May 12 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. The speaker will be Jack Shira, vice president and editor-in-chief of the Mathematics and Statistics College Division at Houghton Mifflin. McMahon outlined what she hoped to hear from Shira at the seminar: “Our faculty will be very interested in your editorial perspective on a number of the topics including, but not limited to, Houghton Mifflin’s digital content strategy, view of how learning management systems is transforming the classroom experience, new pedagogical trends, and the future of college textbooks.” Textbooks, packaged with CD-ROMs and other instructional tools, are becoming increasingly intertwined with digital education, including online text guides and supplemental materials. The first hour of the seminar showcases new technologies. During the remaining half hour, the faculty members ask questions about the presentation. The room is equipped with a projector and a network connection so that audience members can bring in their laptops. The campus is equipped with a two-way interactive video, online education, one-way video instruction, and a technology-enriched syllabus. Optional activities and training are also available. Workshops are held once a week, and cover many different types of skills. “Creating Online Tests,” “Bringing The Web To Your Classroom: Designing Your Web Enhanced Course,” and “Using Excel To Calculate Grades And Turn Numbers Into Letters” are among the numerous workshops offered. In a press release, some faculty members spoke about the arrival of the seminar series. “Technology is transforming the way I teach so it’s important for me to keep tabs on how it’s impacting the classroom,” said UMB Professor Lisa Cosgrove of the Graduate College of Education. “I’m always looking for alternatives to the traditional lecture to keep my students engaged. Digital technologies can be a practical solution,” commented Dan Shimshak of the management science and information systems department. According to a recent article in the Harvard Education Letter, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future recently released a “lengthy report that made a strong case for sharpening the expertise of teachers [in digital education].” The report says in part, “Technology provides the means to create and support teachers in learning communities. These communities can be based entirely within a school, providing teachers with a ‘place’…[and] they can extend across school districts, states, or even nations.” In the June 2003 University Reporter, Mary Oleskiewicz of the department of performing arts says that she uses technology in her music classroom. She tries to bring the history of music alive with digital images, sound, and the Internet. Thanks to the Internet, Oleskiewicz accesses online museums, historical websites, and sound files to illustrate instruments. “Students respond well to hearing instruments and seeing the images. They become more engaged with the content and following discussion,” she says.