University professors embrace technology


Professors at West Virginia University are breaking away from the traditional lectures in favor of new technologies.

"I use quite a few different things," said Rita Colistra, assistant professor at the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.

She incorporates a variety of technologies such as YouTube videos, excerpts from Podcasts and news programs, as well as news stories with interactive links.

Jordan Lieser, a professor in the Department of History, said he also incorporates a variety of technology into the classroom such as PowerPoint presentations, video and audio clips.

"Many of us, especially the students, are accustomed to Web resources," Colistra said.

Using technology resources helps to reinforce the concepts and material taught in class, Colistra said.

She thinks of how she would want the lesson taught to her and provides lectures broken up by the technological resources she incorporates.

Lieser's use of technology is also a personal decision.

"I, myself, am a visual learner," he said. "I'm sure it benefits some students more than others, but it's a way to get the info across, to make it more in-depth."

If the tools are available, Lieser adds them into lessons, especially since history is a subject where video and audio can add an extra layer of historical depth, he said.

"You reinforce the concept and material by showing and not just telling (students) about it," Colistra said.

Both professors have received positive feedback from students about their use of technology.

Colistra knows students have a better understanding with her use of technological resources.

For example, she teaches introduction to the subject and said oftentimes it is the students' first exposure to public relations and public service announcements.

By teaching the parts of a public service announcement in her lecture then showing a video, students understand better, she said.

"They were putting the words I'm telling them with something they saw," Colistra said.

For the first time, Computer Science 101 professors are using a Facebook and Twitter page to keep students up-to-date.

"We're giving students as many resources as they can to be constantly updated," said Scott Adams, a CS 101 instructor.

With the availability of wireless Internet and cell phone updates, instructors thought keeping up with changes in technology would benefit the students.

The sites will be used for posting required textbooks, homework, due dates and exam reminders.

"Most students today, when they log on, one of the first things they check is their e-mail and Facebook," Adams said.

The social networking sites allow students to keep updated for class when they're already online, according to Adams.

On Facebook, CS 101 has more than 50 fans and about 20 Twitter followers. Adams expects the numbers to increase as the semester continues.

These professors plan on continuing their use of technology as it advances.

"We're always experimenting and trying to keep cutting edge," Adams said.

Professors often try to keep up with pop culture so whatever comes next, they can embrace, Adams said.

"Once robots get invented, I'm sure I'll have guest speakers," Lieser said.

For now, teachers continue to engage students using the technology of today.

"We're used to using these resources anyway, so why not apply them to class?" Colistra said.