Ohio State’s DELTA uses technology to keep teaching and learning front and center
Inside a glass-walled classroom at The Ohio State University, surrounded by banks of Apple workstations, monitors and projectors, Henry Griffy is busy teaching the teachers.
Griffy is the faculty development liaison in the Distance Education Learning and Teaching Academy in the Office of Distance Education and e-Learning. DELTA trains and supports Ohio State faculty to be more effective digital instructors, helps students succeed in online classrooms and aids academic advisers who work with those students.
One might think an instructor with a PhD in Medieval English Literature would be out of place in a 21st century teaching laboratory. One would be wrong.
“So my background is in medieval studies, and in medieval studies you kind of get to study revolutions in the past. The way the digital realm is changing things is the revolution that we are living through now,” Griffy said. “And the wave is crashing over academia at the moment.”
The work done by DELTA is one of the many ways Ohio State is working to keep faculty and students on the leading edge of teaching and learning. The new strategic plan calls for the university to be an exemplar of the best teaching practices to improve student success. The university highlighted successes in teaching and learning at Board of Trustees meetings this week.
Griffy, and DELTA founder Marcia Ham, were helping that effort at one of the monthly Online Course Creation Studios hosted on campus. Instructors bring in course work, questions or ideas and get personal feedback and support for online classes or how to use technology to enhance their in-classroom experience.
Connie Lutz, an adjunct professor from the Lima regional campus, was at the March session for the Online Course Creation Studio. Griffy and Andy Smart, a support and training analyst with ODEE, worked with Lutz to help her map out some changes she wanted to make in her course.
“This is one of the few events where faculty can really get one-to-one, or close to one-to-one, help and where they can bring open-ended questions,” Griffy said.
Lutz said the key to Ohio State’s approach in effectively teaching how to use technology in the classroom is consistency.
“The consistency of the message, and the consistency of explaining what Ohio State has done and Ohio State is going to do, the consistency is fantastic. You don’t feel like somebody is saying one thing and then you go to a different workshop and you hear something else,” she said. “You learn something different. But the content and consistency is the same.”
At the core of the effort is a commitment to keep faculty and students as the focus – not the latest tool, app or program.
“Oftentimes I think people get the impression of educational technology that we want to push tools out onto teachers and force their use. Or we get excited about the tool rather than the teaching,” Smart said. “But I think as a group ODEE tries to start with the learner’s experience first. Start with learning objectives and then think about how we can best meet those objectives, whether that’s in a conventional classroom setting, whether that’s online or whether that’s with or without a particular technological focus.”
Lutz said she has seen the approach work as a student and now as a teacher.
“I was a PhD student at Ohio State, I’ve seen the evolution of what's been happening with technology at Ohio State and how it keeps ramping up, but in a good way. It’s not making it more intense – it’s making it more accessible. It’s using technology better for the students.”