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NEWSLETTER: VOL V, #1, October 15, 1999

UW-Superior's New Faculty Development Center fosters 'Superior' Education
by M. Kayt Sunwood

 
Note: This article is the first in a series of "LTDC Updates" written by Learning Technology Development Council representatives at different UW System campuses. The goal of these updates is to keep others in the UW System abreast of developments and successes at individual campuses. UW-Superior's Faculty Development CenterWith apologies to Monet, here is an impressionistic rendering of UW-Superior's new Faculty Development Center. (Photo: Kayt Sunwood)

UW-Superior's new Faculty Development Center, located in 318 Old Main, offers a welcoming CyberCafe atmosphere orchestrated to facilitate enhancement of teaching and learning. Although the Center has been open in this location for less than a month, the campus seems to have quickly embraced the new space and atmosphere. The Center is abuzz with faculty members meeting, consulting, accessing resources, exploring new ideas and technologies, and learning about/using new equipment and software. The UWS Faculty Development Center, created and staffed through the Curricular Redesign funds allotted to each campus from System, was housed in temporary, borrowed space until August of 1999, when we moved into our wonderful, new, permanent home. The following stylized version of a digital picture taken of the Center shows off the French café flavor of our new space.

Old MainIn addition to our CyberCafe atmosphere and prime real estate on the third floor of Old Main, the Faculty Development Center is equipped with hardware and software available for demonstrations, explorations, and opportunities to practice technology integration and application. The following are but a few examples of equipment and applications available in the FDC. We have a high-end graphics and multimedia computer station with a top-of-the-line scanner and software to facilitate curriculum development. The Center's Sony Mavica camera (used to take the original photo of the center which was manipulated to create the French café impression at the top of this article) will also record up to sixty seconds of video (in mpeg format). Utilizing our FrontPage software (which created the special effects for the "cybercafe" picture), we are helping faculty employ the digital camera to quickly and easily create web pages with pictures and/or video clips. A digital video camera, videocapture card, and free desktop videoconferencing applications are giving faculty the opportunity to experiment with meeting (voice and video) over the internet. Faculty are finding that desktop conferencing applications offer an excellent way to hold office hours with students at a distance. 

The picture below illustrates the desktop conferencing set-up available for demonstration, practice or use in the Faculty Development Center.

Participants in a desktop conference

Speaking of students at a distance, the Superior campus has undertaken an ambitious project of on-line course offerings, with the Faculty Development Center serving a key role in this initiative. Twenty-two courses were offered entirely on-line at UWS during MayMester and Summer Session 1999. The Extended Degree Program at Superior has been pioneering the development of on-line courses (mostly using Lotus Notes LearningSpace) for the past couple of years. The MayMester/Summer Session terms this year, however, were the first time that regular department offerings, Extended Degree and UW-Superior Continuing Education/Extension courses were offered on a grand scale, on-line, in a coordinated manner. See http://domino.uwsuper.edu for a listing of UW-Superior courses available (or being developed) on-line in Lotus Notes/LearningSpace. So many courses are available (or are in the process of development) that the blue downward pointing NEXT PAGE arrow must be clicked twice to see the full array of courses (there are three full pages of courses at this point… soon there will be even more!). Clicking on a course title will provide information about the course and a description for courses that are currently available or are far enough in their development to have the course description on-line. Since Lotus Notes/LearningSpace is a secure environment, only those with authorized access (a username and password) can actually get into the courses.

While we have a great number of totally on-line courses being offered and developed here at UW-Superior, we also have many faculty using technology and the web to enhance their face-to-face courses. In addition to the myriad activities outlined above, Faculty Development Center staff are busy creating web pages to support faculty in the enhancement of teaching and learning. Web pages under development include:

  • step-by-step, visually enhanced instructions on how to use the equipment and software available in the FDC
  • links to tutorials on word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software, and teaching tips (for example - how to deal with sensitive, potentially explosive issues in the classroom)
  • links to information, resources and applications available on the web
  • on-line presentations on pedagogical issues and questions
Other web pages will be created as needs arise and are identified. The current skeleton of the Faculty Development Center's web offerings is available at: http://fdc.uwsuper.edu

Visit our web pages, and, if you are ever up our way, come up to visit us at the University of Wisconsin - Superior in Old Main 318. We'd love to meet you and share our excitement over enhancing teaching and learning.