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Teaching and Learning Conference Helps Keep Pace with Educational Innovation
The Eighth Annual Advances in Teaching & Learning Regional Conference was the largest so far, with almost 200 registered participants and 65 peer-reviewed presenters; it continues to be a model event for faculty to demonstrate their research and innovation in education, and to learn and network with colleagues.
According to conference chair Cynthia Phelps, Ph.D., assistant professor in The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston, the May 17 conference also attracted the most diverse group of participants so far, not only from the UT Health Science Center, but also from at least eight other institutions and a handful of local businesses.
“How we deliver graduate health education is rapidly changing as we try to keep pace with the explosion of technology-based communication tools,” Phelps said. “More and more, faculty are looking to learn how to incorporate these useful technologies into their teaching. This has become a very rich educational research area, where the rigorous study of how to use technology to support learning will lead us in how we build our academic programs now and in the future.”
Students of the Future
The highlight of the event was the keynote presentation, “Are You Ready for the Students of the Future? Higher Education and 21st Century Realities,” by Gordon Freedman, founder of Knowledge Base LLC and vice president of education strategy for Blackboard. The keynote was followed by a panel discussion by experts from across the health science center on how to prepare faculty and our institutions for the technology savvy students who are already at our doorsteps.
“Because few if any faculty have had formal training in using technology for learning, this creates a problem of how to most effectively provide the environment students are demanding,” Phelps said. “The solution may be a combination of institutional infrastructure changes and faculty development.”
Currently, the School of Health Information Sciences is offering “Emerging Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Research,” a semester-long course designed to give hands-on experience. “This course was very popular with faculty and instructors across campus, and the course projects that used technology to solve a learning problem were used directly in their own teaching in the health science center,” Phelps said.
As part of the incentive to present excellent educational research at the conference, the best podium and poster presentations each won a $500 prize, sponsored by the Lone Star Legacy Society, which recognizes gifts to the UT Health Science Center Annual Fund: Podium – Mary J. Abraham, senior clinical nursing instructor, UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, spoke on “Blended Learning: Integrating an e-Learning Component for Competency Validation.
Poster – Chirag B. Patel, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at the UT Medical School at Houston and the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, presented “The Impact of a Brief Intervention on Medical Students’ Readiness to Screen for Domestic Violence - Changes in Decisional Balance and Self-Efficacy.” His co-author was Laura Benjamins, M.D., a clinical research fellow in adolescent medicine and primary care in the departments of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, and a student in the UT School of Public Health.
The conference was presented by the UT Health Science Center Office of Academic Affairs and the School of Health Information Sciences with additional support from Blackboard, Imedia.it, Tegrity, TANDBERG, and Your Doctor Program.
By Ina Fried, Institutional Advancement
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