Faculty training center receives master class update

By Jamie Alvord
On January 30, 2014

Recent renovations to the ITTC Faculty Center located in the Dean B. Ellis Library have opened up opportunities for faculty members to gain instruction and guidance with their teaching. The updated program was launched Jan. 27.

The mission statement changed along with the name in order to show how much this section of A-State is branching out with service, scholarship and research. Instructors who visit the Interactive Teaching and Technology Center Faculty Center (ITTC FC) will be able to practice teaching, do mock sessions or even have time to have discussions with others on common issues.

“What we want is to be able to provide a change in how the campus is teaching and being taught. The name change to Faculty Center is not just a change of the stationary, it is a change in the concept of how we provide that type of help to faculty,” said Steve Leslie, interim director for ITTC. “The name change speaks more to what we want to become. It is a one-stop place for faculty.”

Funding for the project was received by Academic Affairs and Research and was put directly towards phase one of the renovation process. This included the layout rearrangement of the master classroom, which was displayed during the launch Monday. Phase two of the restoration is expected to include carpet replacement, upgrades for the faculty lounge and mini recording studio, and new structural elements that will allow staff to be more comfortable and conductive while working.

“They are moving really fast in terms of technology. Especially in this room, lots of improvements have been made in technology. I’m going to make sure the technology is up to date for faculty,” said Amirata Ashar, media specialist for ITTC.

“We help anyone that needs aid with professional development,” Leslie said.

Prior to 2010, this area was known as the Center for Learning Technologies for nearly 15 years, and was geared toward counselling the use of technology. As time went on, the decision was made to reshape the center, which included gaining an entirely new staff by late 2007.

The name Interactive Teaching and Technology Center, or ITTC, was adopted, based on feedback from faculty members. By this time, technology had become so pervasive among classrooms; there was more of a need to address more aspects of it. The aim of refurbishing the facility is to aid in faculty development concerning effective teaching practices, integration of instructional technologies, course design and professional development.
The creation of the new Master Classroom environment reflected feedback from faculty. Staff utilizing this room will now have access to a printer, scanner, private computer and speaker system to make teaching effectively easier.

“Faculty can bring old VHS tapes with information on them, and we can turn that into a link, or even a DVD to show,” said Terri Sue Smith, department coordinator, about the changes made to the digital media and videography area.
This area also allows faculty to make videos of themselves in front of a green screen teaching for online classes, or short videos in the classroom.
“We had some equipment but we have upgraded it and made it a higher quality,” Smith said.

Another new idea that has been brought to the attention of the ITTC staff is the creation of a Faculty Study Group. Staff members who are part of this program will be reading a common book and meeting once per month to discuss information. The aim is to allow readers to be able to gain information on how to plan and conduct classroom discussion, and relate that information to relevant teaching experiences.

“A mentoring program was launched in fall of 2013, which is something that we have gotten a lot of positive feedback (for),” Smith said.

This program features nearly 20 faculty members who have volunteered to make themselves available for conversations to new staff members on campus. Along with this training, there are also specialized courses offered that depend on what the needs of a specific college are. For example, a training course was designed specifically for the College of Education’s need to utilize iPads with their interns. The quickest process was shown and made available to those in need by the ITTC Faculty Center.

“In all, we want to say we have done the research, we are capable and able to work with any faculty. We emphasize teaching and learning,” Leslie said. “We look at the effect and appropriate integration of instructional technologies. We are willing to work with all of the faculty to ensure that all students that take classes on campus and online have the best experience possible.”

The ITTC Faculty Center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and is open to any professor or faculty member in need of a resource. Faculty interested in joining the Faculty Study Group can contact Ruth Owens at rsupko@astate.edu. Other services offered include digitizing, course building, web design, equipment loans and checkout, and videography. A full list of services can be found at www.astate.edu/a/ittc/.

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