Teaching outside the box

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Some students spent Fall Break basking in the sun on a southern beach. Others spent it studying for mid-term exams. Teachers of educational technology and instructional design from around the state, however, gathered to share ideas, troubleshoot problems and get to the heart of the issue of innovative teaching.


The second Instructional Design Summit, a conference hosted by UVU’s Distance Education Program, was held Friday, Oct. 21. Jared Stein, director of Innovation, Instruction and Teclhnology, spent his final day as a UVU employee as the keynote speaker of the conference.


“Higher education needs to begin building bridges from the classroom to the real world,” Stein said. “We need to move from formal to informal earning; we need to move from universal schooling to lifelong learning.”


Mark Hugentobler, works in The Innovation Center. Hugentobler and Stein have done invaluable work at The Innovation Center. The function of The Innovation Center is to help faculty find ways to engage students. The traditional isolated classroom model is outdated and technology seems to be the answer.


The Innovation Center is there to help faculty use technology to enhance UVU’s goal of learning through engagement; bridging the gap between conventional higher education, real-world experience and capability.


It can provide teachers an opportunity to break through the artificial walls of traditional classroom learning and allow students to use current tools and technologies, develop digital identities, and better connect with the vast array of communities that lie beyond the walls of our hallowed halls. Examples of these tools can include blogs and social networking, as well as the new Hybrid Teaching Initiative, which was brought to campus Fall Semester 2010 by The Innovation Center.


“The Innovation Center offers a Hybrid Teaching Initiative each semester for any faculty across campus to come and redesign their course as a hybrid,” Stein said. “A hybrid course has one or more class session, which consists of online activities.”


According the Hugentobler, the purpose of a hybrid class is dual: one is to help instructors entice students toward an educational ex- perience that combines the traditional benefits of face-to-face interaction with the potential of the internet.


The second purpose is to reduce physical pressure placed on the recourses of UVU’s over filled campus, an agenda which has been of importance to President Holland since he came into office, according to both Hugentobler and Stein.


UVU’s population contains a considerable percentage of non-traditional students. Many students will benefit from the flexibility of the hybrid course, but especially those of the non-traditional persuasion.


Faculty can find out more about the Hybrid Teaching Initiative by visiting uvu. edu/innovation.


By Lindsey Nelson