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Third Annual Technology Day: A Modern Story -- Driving Innovation in Education

From the cars we drive to the way we communicate with friends and family, technological advances touch virtually every aspect of our lives.  Yet, much of our nation’s educational system is rooted in centuries-old methodology of lecture and exam.  How will this change in the future?  Is there room for innovation in education?

Saint Xavier University lead the conversation about innovation in the classroom during the Third Annual Technology Day: A Modern Story, which was held on August 18.

“It’s actually less about the technology than it is about pedagogical changes,” said Dr. Christopher Zakrzewski, assistant provost for Technology and Instructional Innovation and director of the SXU Center of Instructional Design and Academic Technology. 

“When we hosted the first Technology Day in 2012, much of the conversation was focused on the tools.  What is Panopto?*  How can Blackboard be effective?*  Does an iPad really belong in a classroom?  This year, we shifted the conversation to the ways faculty are using technology in the classroom -- how they are incorporating technology and what they are seeing as a result.  What’s more, our faculty has responded so positively to Technology Day, felt it was such a powerful day, that they thought we needed to look beyond our own campus.”

This year, for the first time, registration was open to teachers, faculty and administrators from K-12 school districts, local community colleges and area universities.  “We decided to welcome educators outside of the SXU community because we believe strongly we have something positive to share.  This kind of faculty development needs to be happening everywhere.  We’re here to provide a much-needed service to those who are interested.”

“Besides, if we’re going to talk about pedagogical innovation, we need to look at the whole K-20 spectrum.  Not just the K-12 school districts and not just in higher education.  By joining forces, so to speak, we can confront this challenge together and create better learning opportunities for our students. Technology Day positions Saint Xavier to be at the forefront of this movement.”

At Saint Xavier University, examples of innovation are plentiful. Dr. Megan Alderden, assistant professor in Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, flipped her classroom.  She asks students to listen to pre-recorded lectures outside of class, leaving more time in class for discussions. In the Department of Religious Studies, Dr. Michael Bathgate uses iPads in his teachings of God and faith. Dr. K.C. Rakow, assistant professor in the Graham School of Management, uploads on-demand video tutorials to explain accounting principles.  Dr. Graham Peck, associate professor of history, and Nathan Peck, associate professor in art and design, are collaborating on a cross-disciplinary course that will explore the making of historical documentaries.

“Overall, it’s a move away from the didactic method and toward using technology to engage students in the learning process in a new and different way.  Technology Day allowed our faculty and other educators to continue discussing how this is can be done.  We’re grateful to our corporate sponsors -- Pentegra Systems, Conference Technologies, Inc., ShareStream, KI, McGraw Hill and Follett -- for supporting this meaningful dialogue,” said Dr. Zakrzewski.

There’s no doubt technology is impacting the way students of all ages learn -- from the way they find information to the way they synthesize it.  The Third Annual Technology Day: A Modern Story at Saint Xavier University is another example of the University’s leadership ensuring that educators – both within our own learning community and those outside -- are prepared to leverage the advantages that come with technology to engage learners in this new environment.  The result will be an empowered, informed, and responsible student capable of negotiating the inevitable differences in a diverse society.

(Panopto is a software company that provides lecture recording, video streaming and video content management software and Blackboard is an online learning management system.)

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