Monday, November 19, 2007

How does TLC compare? Duke

My first stop was one of our perennial rivals: Duke. Duke has a CIT (Center for Instructional Technology) that seems to offer very similar resources as ECIT. Among these resources are courses and workshops that graduate students can take to familiarize themselves with technology. (I do find it telling that there is nothing listed under the upcoming grad student events.) Of course, students are welcome to attend the courses that are offered to faculty as well. I'm particularly intrigued by the workshop that offers to help people learn how to keep their students engaged.

More importantly, Duke does offer something that is similar to TLC. But whereas we have an 8-session workshop spread over a month, they have a one-credit course: Instructional Uses of Technology. Reading through their syllabus (PDF file) shows that they cover much of the same materials that we do. They meet once a week for an hour and 45 minutes and they have a total of 13 sessions. At the end of it, they must produce an electronic portfolio that showcases some of what they've learned as well as serving as a document they can use when trying to get jobs. You can see sample e-portfolios here, including some by English types.

As far as I'm concerned, the most advantageous part of this being a course is that you're required to produce something and that it must be a finished product. TLC thus far serves as an introduction to different technologies and a discussion of their implementation. This means that students don't have to create anything--nor do you have time to. Some of the feedback that we have received via our TLC survey indicate that this is something that people feel would improve the class. (I'm not sure yet if we will publish the survey results. I'm for it, but I need to take it up with all interested parties.)

The E-Portfolio seems like an important thing. You have to master skills to produce it. (This means you don't just fiddle with Dreamweaver for a few minutes and move on. ) So when you're ready to put your syllabus online, you know how to do it. There is a suggestion that these e-portfolios also include video of students teaching. None of the examples that I looked at include this, but it could be useful. Moreover, the course asks people to write a teaching statement that integrates technology into the statement. There are, of course, a lot of ways that you can do this in any teaching statement. But I believe that our ability to use these technologies are important marketable skills and are especially pertinent to our teaching and they should consequently be highlighted as such.

So there's the Duke report. My verdict? They have a comparable program, but one with a demonstrable outcome. Students therefore leave it feeling like they absolutely know how to do something, as opposed to having a basic knowledge and a feeling that they could do something and know where to go for help.

EDIT: One thing that I forgot to mention where Emory trumps Duke. Since this class is offered to everyone in their graduate school, you have a lot of people from different disciplines learning together. This is good for some things, but you lose the ability to have very specific discussions about particular needs in a particular discipline. Needless to say, the Duke class will probably not feature a second faculty member from a specific field who would be able to direct such a discussion.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

Brian, excellent snooping, I mean research! Interesting that you discovered that others have had the same idea as TLC but mix it together in different ways. I agree that the topics of the syllabus are very similar, however, your point about the synergies that exist within TLC and it's participants makes Emory very different. I would argue that the discussions between the participants of TLC regarding the potential application of technology as part of pedagogy are as, if not more important than learning about the technologies themselves.