Integrating technology in teaching and learning environments is a hot topic these days, driven by several factors. It has long been known that meaningful learning is not achieved by having students sit in class, listen to teachers, memorize assignments, and regurgitate responses on demand. Significantly more is required to get and keep students engaged, particularly those who come from a generation that seems to have learned how to text in utero. In the same way that Facebook, Twitter and hand-held technologies have become popular vehicles for social networking, a wide range of newer technologies is available for the classroom, such as student response systems (clickers), digital whiteboards, podcasts, wikis, video, and more.
However, knowing that such technologies exist is only the first step. In the Faculty and Staff Learning Facility (Mackintosh-Corry Hall B176), ITServices and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) work closely with faculty and other teaching staff to learn how to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning. To support the integration of technology, the Emerging Technology Centre (Mac-Corry B109) is a multimedia showcase for faculty, staff and students and serves as a research, development and evaluation space, as well as offering consultation, advice and recommendations on the use of emerging technologies. As part of this ongoing effort, ITServices is currently hosting Project Quest, which offers an opportunity for teams of faculty and graduate students to work collaboratively with ITServices staff and other faculty members to explore, develop, and integrate new technologies into their programs with a focus on active and engaged learning. The website Engaging Students in the Classroom and Beyond explores some of these many possibilities.
The value of technology in teaching and learning is not just applicable to pedagogy. The Principal’s Task Force on Virtualization, established last year in response to growing fiscal constraints, has as its stated objective “to examine the potential for use of information technology and electronic media in reducing costs of instruction, alleviating space constraints associated with growing enrolment, and enhancing the quality of the teaching and learning environment at Queen’s.” To this end, ITServices is exploring lecture-capturing systems as a means of fulfilling these goals. The equipment which is currently under evaluation in the Mac-Corry B176 Lecture Theatre is fully automated and non-intrusive. It consists of an automated camera system which has the capacity to track presenters through both voice and movement, and a capture station which collects the data from the camera as well as from the presenter’s computer (e.g. a PowerPoint presentation). It can then synchronize the video with the presented material, making it available for both live streaming and on-demand viewing. While still only at the evaluation stage, Queen’s is the first Canadian university to consider adopting a fully automated camera and capturing system for classroom use. The next step is to establish a pilot project, anticipated to take place this September.
Queen’s University belongs to the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international not-forprofit consortium of nearly 200 leading colleges, universities, and other learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies.