Each academic year, Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) welcomes a new cohort of Faculty Fellows who work on projects that explore ways technology can help overcome pedagogical obstacles and maximize opportunities for student success. Since 2009, 38 diverse Faculty Fellows have worked with TLT to help transform education and drive digital innovation at Penn State.
The call for 2019-20 TLT Faculty Fellows is now open. TLT is inviting faculty to submit proposals focusing on this year’s theme of “Learning Spaces.” All Penn State faculty, from any discipline, are encouraged to share their innovative idea by submitting a proposal for exploring, enhancing, or engaging students in the many spaces where they learn. Learning spaces can include physical, digital, virtual, blended, and data-informed places where students interact with course material.
Faculty who submit successful proposals will work collaboratively with TLT staff to combine ideas, innovative spirit, and academic expertise to apply emerging technologies to teaching and learning. The deadline for proposals is April 19, 2019.
To request more information or to submit a proposal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) will continue to support Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) at Penn State for the 2019-20 academic year. This program allows tenure and teaching faculty to explore topics like learning spaces, scholarship of teaching and learning, data science, and more in peer-led groups.
Leaders are needed for the upcoming year and applications are now being accepted until April 12, 2019. Faculty whose proposals are selected will receive a $500 stipend and up to an additional $500 to fund supporting activities such as lunches, guest speakers, and tech tools. Proposals selected for funding will be announced the week of May 3, 2019.
Applications can be submitted on any topic related to teaching, learning, and technology. Communities that form around these topics will be cross-college, cross-campus, and cross-discipline. Leadership for the FLCs will come from a full-time faculty member along with support from TLT.
Stephanie Edel-Malizia will host virtual open office hours on March 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., April 1 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and April 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Stephanie can be contacted at email@example.com for more information on these sessions, or on applications for 2019-20 FLCs.
Rest is not commonly associated with the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON. Dancers are on their feet for 46 consecutive hours. Committees and volunteers work for a year to organize the event, collect donations, and ultimately execute the event. Thousands of supporters, who are gently encouraged to not sit down, fill the Bryce Jordan Center and sustain the dancers’ spirits. In the end, the energy poured into the event raises millions of dollars annually for Four Diamond families in support of their battles against pediatric cancer.
Throughout THON weekend Four Diamond families travel to University Park to take part in the festivities and share the energetic atmosphere. Unlike the dancers, the kids fighting childhood cancer, their parents, and other guests occasionally need to step away from the BJC and catch their collective breath. This is where THON’s Family Relations Committee steps up with strategically planned experiences that provide a respite from all the hustle and bustle. This year, a brand-new event at the HUB-Robeson Center’s Break Zone aimed at helping a special group of THON teen participants gave Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) a chance to contribute to THON for the first time.
At the Teen Adventure, dozens of kids played pool, ping-pong, and video games. The sunshine filled the Break Zone on a Saturday afternoon as Colin Murtha, teen and adult coordinator on the Family Relations Committee, reflected on the ideas that brought this supportive event to life.
“A lot of THON is geared towards younger kids – that’s part of what makes it so special – and this year we’re really making strides to provide all ages, from teenage years through adulthood, with emotional support,” Murtha said.
The scope of that support is larger than just the Teen Adventure. Murtha helped create the THON Engagement and Empowerment Network (TEENetwork) whose efforts include teen-focused programming during the THON Family Carnival and “Teen Nights” that take place four times per year. But THON weekend is the big showcase, and Murtha was quick to recognize everyone who had a hand in making the Teen Adventure possible.
“It’s a lot of coordination and planning to bring together 40 teens and their guests, members of the football team, and groups that provided programming. It’s great to see all the effort pay off,” he said.
TLT, whose day-to-day efforts center around collaborating with faculty and students across the University to discover and advance technology that supports engaged learning, was one of those groups. With TLT in attendance, the Teen Adventure kids enjoyed some hands-on experience with augmented reality and other educational gaming technology. It a chance to work with THON that the staff jumped at according to learning experiences designer Zach Lonsinger.
“This was a great opportunity to support THON and also advocate for emerging technology. A lot of kids dream about being a Jedi, but not many get to experience an actual lightsaber battle with Darth Vader. Thanks to the technology that’s been developed, this is possible,” he said.
The lightsaber battles that Lonsinger referred to were made possible by a mobile phone, an augmented reality headset that projects holograms into the player’s vision, and a beacon and game controller that respond to the player’s movements. Most of the teens in attendance that afternoon hadn’t experienced augmented reality previously, but they were eager to try it out and adapted to it quickly. One of the “Jedis” in training, Josiah Garcia, didn’t quite get the ending he expected from his first try at the game.
“The augmented reality was a lot of fun, but I didn’t like getting ambushed by the Storm Troopers at the end. They just ganged up on me!” he said, laughing.
While gaming is often people’s first exposure to augmented or virtual reality, it can open their eyes to other ways the tech can be applied, such as in an educational setting.
“As a society, we are just beginning to understand what is possible with immersive technologies. It’s not that far off from anyone being able to experience what a THON dancer sees from the floor,” said Lonsinger. “Someone from across the world could put on a headset and experience the powerful moments of THON as if they were on the floor.”
Ethan Munoz was another teen adventurer who spent time with the augmented reality game, and the Nintendo Labo technology that showcases principles of engineering, physics, and basic programming. As a middle school student himself, the educational potential of the technology wasn’t lost on him.
Ethan Munoz plays with the Nintendo Labo during THON weekend
“The Labo could help kids who need to work on motor skills, and augmented reality could be used to improve hand-eye coordination,” Munoz said.
Education technology is something close to Murtha’s heart as he is studying education policy. He thinks that aside from giving the kids a chance to play and relax during a busy THON weekend, the immersive technology could have a meaningful impact on their future as students.
“Besides the gaming aspect, the technology presents learning opportunities where you can put yourself into an entirely different environment and learn about it with almost hands-on interaction,” Murtha said. “It has the potential to give teenage students a tangible learning experience which is something that speaks to them as people who like to be engaged.”
Lonsinger echoed Murtha’s sentiment.
“Kids are growing up with access to mobile and immersive technology. Just like I grew up with the internet and expected it in my classrooms, students now are going to expect immersive technologies to be a part of their learning experience,” he said. “As with any technology, immersive tech should be viewed and used as a tool or a complement to learning.”
Josiah Garcia dances at the THON talent show
Once the Teen Adventure wound down and the HUB’s Break Zone cleared out, the kids, their guests, and family members made it back to the BJC to rejoin THON’s festivities. And while he performed admirably in augmented reality, Josiah Garcia saved his best performance for the THON stage as showcased his dance skills in Saturday evening’s talent show. Ultimately, everyone who took part in the weekend came away from the experience touched by THON’s magic.
“THON has impacted me completely; it’s how I’ve met some of my best friends,” said Murtha. “Really, though, it’s such a humbling experience to work with the families and be a part of their lives.”
Lonsinger added, “THON is so much more than a 46-hour dance marathon. It transcends higher education and goes beyond just getting a degree. It’s about making an impact on the world and changing the way you view the world. When you are invested in something that’s bigger than yourself, it changes you in a meaningful way.”
A worldwide collection of universities and colleges have joined together to explore technology’s potential to define the prospects of teaching and learning. With its debut, this collaboratory called the CoAction Learning Lab will create an online library of original and curated resources that will support higher education innovators.
“Emerging technology has outstanding potential to advance the vision of equal access, high-quality learning experiences, and continuous innovation in higher education,” said Michael Kubit, Penn State chief information officer. “By continuously exchanging ideas, the CoAction Learning Lab community expects to establish and grow resources that support meaningful ways to leverage emerging technology to advance teaching and learning.”
Penn State launched a call for community partners in April 2018, and a diverse group of 18 universities and colleges across four continents signed on to participate. Currently, the group is establishing a shared set of core values that can drive decision-making around how technology can support teaching, learning, and pedagogy in higher education.
The following institutions have representation in the CoAction Learning Lab:
- Penn State – leader and founding member
- Arizona State University
- Charles Sturt University, u!magine Digital Learning Innovation Laboratory
- Conestoga College
- California State University Channel Islands, Teaching & Learning Innovations
- Curtin University Learning Futures
- Full Sail University Media Communications & Full Sail Labs
- Ithaca College
- State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration
- Taylor’s University
- University at Buffalo
- University of Central Florida
- University of Connecticut Digital Media & Design
- University of Missouri
- University of Ottawa
- University of Plymouth
- University of Tennessee Libraries
- University of West Florida
- Western Governors University
Each community partner is represented by a team consisting of at least one technology leader, one learning facilitator, and one student. By including each of these voices, diverse perspectives from across higher education will shape the foundation of the online library.
Additionally, the public will have opportunities to provide feedback as the CoAction Learning Lab identifies its values and compiles a list of technologies that enable and support those values.
Ultimately, the library’s resources will be freely accessible online for the worldwide higher education community. The resources will support students, instructors, instructional designers, and technology leaders on issues like creating student-centered learning experiences, advancing effective digital pedagogies, and more. These resources will be available on the CoAction Learning Lab’s website.
Author of four New York Times bestselling books, Dan Heath will deliver the keynote address at the 2019 Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology.
Symposium is scheduled for Saturday, March 16, 2019 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. It is a free event for all Penn State faculty, students, and staff.
Keynote speaker Dan Heath
Dan, along with his brother Chip Heath, has co-authored four of the most-read business books of the last decade. Including their most recent work, The Power of Moments—an exploration of why certain experiences can jolt, elevate, and change people, the Heath brothers’ books have sold over two million copies and been translated into 33 languages.
A senior fellow at Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Dan Heath has given keynotes for leaders in government, healthcare, defense, and business across 26 countries and six continents. In 2013, he was named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company Magazine and was ranked among the 50 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50.
Heath’s keynote address is presented in partnership with Penn State University Libraries.
The Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology annually brings together ideas and people with the power to transform education. The day’s events include presentations, discussions, networking, awards, and more.
Registration for the 2019 Symposium is now open.