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Bruce Stovel
Marisa Bortolussi
David Kahane
Connie Varhangen
Janice Williamson
Open stage is a place for Arts instructors to share ideas and showcase their efforts in using technology in their teaching. Interviews were conducted with each instructor. They talked about the innovative ways technology is incorporated into their courses, and their perspectives and experiences as teachers and researchers. These stories are full of insights and inspiration.

Designed and maintained by Arts Technologies for Learning Centre, University of Alberta.

For question or comment, please contact Tracy Chao


Andy's responses:

Why use technology?
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What are the challenges?
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Is this experience rewarding?
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Learning International Organizations with Multimedia
Interview with Dr. Andy Knight and POLS468 students

Andy Knight always strives for innovative teaching. He designed and developed a multimedia course on the United Nations using WebCT as the platform. The course web site consists of PowerPoint lecture notes, video clips, maps and images, discussion boards, online quizzes and web links. Students not only came to lively lectures with the materials brought to life by various technologies, they were also involved in a simulation of the UN Security Council. Learning in this class has no boundaries. In interviews, students in this class spoke of their experiences and of their appreciation for an intellectually challenging and fun course. Andy also talked about his own experiences.

The course web site:

The primary purpose of the course web site was to supplement the face-to-face teaching and to engage students more in their own learning. Technology becomes an integral part of the whole learning experience. Students are immersed in online discussion, which may be a contiuation of or a spark for a class discussion. Online quizzes helped students check their understanding of the course materials and provided them with incentives to keep track of their learning progress. Video clips used in the lectures to highlight the UN's peacekeeping mission were also available on the Web. Links to related web sites gave students access to some key UN documents and encouraged them to explore various topics.

The Simulation of United Nations Security Council

Students unaminously agreed that the simulation was the most exciting and rewarding experience they gained from this course. The class was broken up into 15 caucuses representing the 15 members of the UN Security Council (5 permanent members -- the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and 10 non-permanent members, including Canada). The task was to reform the Security Council - making it more relevant to the current international politic. The simulation was conducted both face-to-face and online. Each caucus had an online forum and received instruction and country mandate electronically. All the caucuses were called to a plenary to negotiate and work on the resolution. The course web site provided links to the UN provisional rules of procedures, UN charter, and other crucial documents to form a genuine environment for this simulation and to support students' learning of decision-making in the United Nations.

Technology will be in the 21st century classroom
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There are alternative avenues for you to express your ideas.
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It was incredibly frustrating... but it was just a great learning experience.
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It was more about students learning from one another.
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Discussion panel was very interesting and stimulating.
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Everything is right there on
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The images were so powerful... they are my favorites.
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We can actually be there and debating with other countries' representatives.
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Questions for Andy:

Andy did not hestitate to say yes when asked if he found the time and energy he spent on implementing the technology in his course rewarding.

"It brings happiness to my heart to see my students learn the essential skills, to make passionate speeches during the simulation, to show enthuasim and compassion for the course" said Andy.

So what motivates Andy to try a different approach and why does he venture into technological means in his teaching?

He thinks that traditional lectures are fine. However, teaching downwards to students is one things, but it is another thing to offer students the possiblility of playing a role in their own learning. He believes that technology gives students a different model or paradigm of learning, in which they take control of their own learning. In other words, he sees his course web site as a supplement to his lectures. He also believes that individual students may have different way of capturing knowledge. He wants to support and help everyone in different way.

It was very challenging when Andy took this new approach and brought technology into the class. The biggest challenge is time constraint. According to Andy, it takes a lot of time to put together a WebCT course, to design it from scratch, to work out the summary of each chapter and lecture, and to have the quizzes prepared in advance. All this takes time and must be done prior to the course. He appreciates the support he obtained from the Academic Technologes for Learning and [Faculty of Arts] Technologies for Learning Centre. "To me, that's my saving grace" he said. Another challenge is to be able to imagine. What will the outcome be like? What does an instructor wish to accomplish? Imagination and experimentation are the keywords here. The final challenge was to keep on top of the situation all the time. With the WebCT, class does not end at a certainly time. Students are participating in discussion off campus. As the instructor, Andy tries to respond and interact with students as much as possible.

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