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New resource to help faculty use technology in teaching

by Sherry Fisher - June 8, 2009

The Instructional Resource Center has created a wiki about educational technologies, as part of its ongoing efforts to provide information about new and emerging technologies.

The wiki, a website with multiple editors, allows staff from Storrs and the regional campuses who are involved with educational technologies to collaborate and share information in their areas of expertise.

Wiki comes from the Hawaiian word quick. The most well-known wiki is Wikipedia.

“The wiki is a resource not only for our group of educational technologies support staff, but for anyone interested in using technology with their teaching,” says Janet Jordan, the Center’s program manager.

While the wiki is available for the public to read, only the UConn editors – about 15 – may contribute to it.

“Our goal at the Instructional Resource Center is to support faculty in their use of technology in their teaching,” Jordan says.

“We’ve been getting a lot more inquiries about different technologies, such as embedding YouTube video in PowerPoint presentations. Faculty members have also started asking about starting their own wikis and blogs.”

Jordan says the group from Storrs and the regional campuses had been meeting remotely once a month using iTV to discuss educational technologies, and decided to create a wiki as a supplement.

“We discovered our common interests, and decided that creating a wiki would make it easy for us to communicate with each other,” she says.

“We wanted to develop it as a resource for our particular group, so we could collaborate and share information about the technologies we were using or learning about.”

Jordan says one of the advantages of the wiki is that it enables the group to create a permanent record that can be continually updated with new information.

“For example, if one of us writes something new about using a particular technology, someone else in our group can add additional information, making it a resource that evolves over time,” she says.

Janet Jordan, program manager at the Instructional Resource Center.
Janet Jordan, program manager at the Instructional Resource Center. Photo by Peter Morenus

“A wiki would be a great tool for an instructor or a group of people working on a project because they can be editing in the same environment.”

Wikis are often used in corporate situations and at universities for project management and research purposes, she adds.

The Instructional Resource Center has also started a blog focused on providing information for UConn faculty about new technologies.

“The nice thing about a blog is that it’s like a newsletter that’s delivered in installments,” says Jordan.

“Paper and e-mail newsletters don’t work well any more. A blog enables us to have information out there and contribute to it over time. It generates its own archive and it’s a public resource.

“Part of the motivation for creating the wiki and blog was that these are great tools for disseminating information,” she says, “but it was also an opportunity for us to experience firsthand how to use them. When we’re more informed, we’re better equipped to assist faculty. We hope that faculty will be inspired to create their own wiki or blog for teaching and learning.”

Jordan says it is important to keep up with new and emerging technologies that interest faculty.

“We at IRC can talk with them about their objectives and what kinds of activities they think they’d like to use in their classes,” she says.

“There are so many different ways to incorporate technology into teaching to help students learn a concept or develop a skill.”

The wiki may be found at edtechnet.wikispaces.com and the blog is at http://itlirc.wordpress.com/.

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