Posted by: Ellie Kutz | December 1, 2009

The Role of an Educational Technology Studio in Faculty Development

Why do we need a Digital Learning Studio at UMass Boston? 

The literature on faculty development suggests that having one physical location where faculty can find most of the resources they need to support their own learning contributes substantially to their growth in all areas of the faculty role. And this is particular true when that learning involves the use of technology (Camblin; Shapiro and Cartright).  Best practices for faculty development centers focused on educational technology include not only having a space where appropriate support is available, but also “having an identified group of resident experts dedicated to helping the faculty integrate technology into the classroom”(Rogers).  Faculty at other institutions with such centers, whether focused on educational technology alone or linked to other areas of teaching and research, have pointed to “the combination of a place for them to work and a full-time staff member on hand to help them with both the planning and the small vexations [in] what it took to complete their projects,” suggesting that the existence of such a space was significant to their ability to integrate technology effectively into their teaching (Candiotti and Clarke).

The Digital Learning Studio, with its combination of work cubicles for educational technology staff and workstations and open areas for faculty use, is designed to offer such a space.  The concept of a studio, where both production and collaboration may take place, has been drawn from the arts into other learning environments. The studio concept, whether associated with physics or engineering or music, is currently being used to identify learning spaces with several key features:  flexibility, technological capacity, and ease of sharing, and studio curricula across fields are focused on encouraging student inquiry, multi-modal representation of learning, and collaboration (Carbone et al). As UMass Boston undertakes the design of new student learning spaces for its new buildings with these ways of teaching and learning in mind (see the Report of the Information Technology Subcommittee for the Campus Master Plan), it is only appropriate that we reshape our faculty learning spaces as well.

What difference might the Digital Learning Studio make, then, in how we offer support at UMass Boston to faculty who are integrating technology into their teaching?  In this issue of the newsletter, you can read the views of the director and of two members of the DLS staff, who bring different perspectives to this new center.  Mary Simone, the Operations Manager for the Digital Learning Studio, and Eileen McMahon, the DLS’s Senior Instructional Designer.

References: Camblin, L., and  Steger, J.A. (2000).  “Rethinking faculty development.” Higher Education 39, 1-18; Candiotti, A, and Clarke, N. (2009). “Combining universal access with faculty development and academic facilities.” Communications of the ACM 41.1; Carbone, A., Lynch, K., Arnott, D. and Jamieson, P. (2001). Introducing a studio-based learning environment into Information Technology. In L. Richardson and J. Lidstone (Eds), Flexible Learning for a Flexible Society, Flexible Learning Center: Toowoomba NZ, 106-114; Rogers, D. L. (2000).  “A paradigm shift:  technology integration for higher education in the new millenium.”  Educational Technology Review 33.24; Shapiro, W. and Cartright, G.P. (1998).  “New ways to link technology and faculty development.”  Change 30.5, 50-52.



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