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Kaneb Center technology fair to showcase options

Sonia Rao | Friday, March 30, 2007

A new version of WebCT Vista will be unveiled today at the John A. Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning’s “Technology in the Classroom” fair in the Jordan Hall of Science.

Faculty members and teaching assistants who attend the exhibition will see examples of using technology in the classroom, with displays ranging from traditional PowerPoints to the more vanguard blogs and “Wikis.”

“The idea is to help faculty understand what kinds of technologies are available to help improve learning in the classroom,” Assistant Director of the Kaneb Center Chris Clark said. “It’s a showcase of the different technologies that people might use.”

Though some professors and teaching assistants remain loyal to the traditional chalkboard instead of a laptop, Clark said the event is to promote technology only when it is relevant to the class.

“Our purpose is not to use technology for the sake of technology,” he said. “It’s to integrate objectives. … If it would be useful for [faculty] to use a PowerPoint with images and videos and they’re not doing that, then we would suggest it to them.”

He also noted that faculty members dealing with a visual subject matter could benefit greatly from the use of technology.

“Taking slides and putting them on a computer makes things more effective for someone teaching something like Art History,” he said. “It’s the idea of having 100,000 slides on a laptop versus 80 on a slide tray.”

Though visually inclined subjects could benefit from technology for obvious reasons, Clark said there is not any one subject that benefits from the use of technology more than others.

On the other hand, large classes tend to find WebCT useful for distributing grades, which “helps students get feedback quickly,” he said.

Faculty members responsible for those large classes will notice that WebCT has had a makeover. Course Management Systems Administrator Laura Gekeler said the course management system is getting an upgrade.

“Pretty much the look and feel is changing,” she said. “That includes navigations, so things are easier to use.”

Gekeler said faculty members will probably notice more changes than students, but everyone can notice that the system name will be changed from “WebCT” to “Concourse” on May 17.

“We wanted to brand our course management system as being Notre Dame’s course management system so the name won’t be tied to the vendor as much,” she said. Currently, Notre Dame’s course management system reflects the vendor, WebCT. A demonstration of Concourse will be part of the “Technology in the Classroom” event.

The technology fair will take place at the north end of Jordan Hall’s main atrium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.