New teaching tools introduced at tech showcase



Isabelle Martini, a junior, gets help on her assignment from her English teacher Ed Sandt, center, during class, November 19, 2012, in Montvale, New Jersey. Pascack Hills High School has been issuing students laptop computers in their classrooms for the past nine years. (Tariq Zehawi/The Record/MCT)

By Vivienne Henning

On Monday the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, CITL, held an open house showcase in the Armory Building for faculty and teaching assistants to come by and learn about new high-tech methods they can use in their classes.

At the showcase, CITL staff presented many new teaching and learning tools, including Illinois Media Space, eText@Illinois and Digital Inking.

Digital Inking is an easy-to-operate, hands-on tool that enables professors to annotate on top of slides while presenting to their classes.

“It really helps students be better engaged, and not just read off of PowerPoint slides trying to write everything,” said Richard Furr, eLearning professional with CITL.

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Digital Inking enables students to focus on points that professors wish to emphasize in class. Professors can then send out the annotated slides to their students to use as a reference.

Another tool highlighted at the showcase, eText@Illinois, is an expanding platform developed at the University, which allows students and faculty to access and interact with certain digital textbooks. In fall 2015, the platform was used by 2,500 students, and those numbers are expected to jump to around 4,000 by fall 2016. Currently, there are 28 books available for first level classes in the colleges of Engineering, ACES and LAS.

“eText is open to a wide spectrum of small and large classes,” said Milind Basole, eLearning professional. “It’s a useful tool to deliver content and make it more interactive.”

There are communicative tools built in so professors can send messages out to their students, and students can send questions about the text material to their professors.Another newly developed tool is Illinois Media Space. It’s a video uploading platform exclusively for University students, faculty and staff. Different educational departments have their own public galleries, and anyone with a NetID can make a channel to upload videos.

Professors can also use Illinois Media Space to upload their lectures, allowing students to review information covered in class.

“We live in a world where we communicate in different modes. Not just writing, but also video tutorials,” said Drew MacGregor. manager of Digital Media Services. “You can communicate things well and be a little more creative than just turning in a paper. Students have control over the content.”

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