Faculty Use of New Media: A Report on January Retreat

More than 50 faculty members attended a retreat on new media teaching and learning technologies sponsored by the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center in January.

The two-day retreat, which emphasized new media courseware and publishing the first day and distance learning the second, featured keynote speaker Paul Duguid from the Graduate School of Education, co-author of "Universities in the Digital Age."

A report on the conference and the text of some of the presentations can by found at http://www.bmrc.berkeley.edu/.

The event was co-sponsored by the Academic Senate and Berkeley Extension.

Following the conference, Berkeleyan had an online conversation with Larry Rowe, the center's director and professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

"I am convinced faculty at Berkeley are very anxious to exploit new media technology for education. The problem is time and money. "

Berkeleyan: For those attending, what message do you hope they received?

Larry Rowe: I hope different people learned different things. First, faculty who are not aware of what is being done learned and saw some interesting technology demonstrations and heard about some educational applications and experiences. They also learned what some of the problems and cost models are for developing multimedia courseware.

Second, faculty with some experience learned that a lot of exciting things are happening at Berkeley.

Finally, faculty experienced in the area saw that these ideas are moving rapidly into other disciplines that traditionally have not been heavy users of technology.

Q: This is BMRC's second such retreat. How much growth in understanding and interest among faculty do you sense has occurred in the past year?

A: Attendance more than doubled over last year. One colleague made a very telling comment the first morning. He said, "This conference has attracted many new people; it is not the usual cast of suspects." The reason for saying this is that there are 10 to 15 people who have been very active in applying information technology to education. For many years we were the only ones that showed up to events like this one.

Q: Campuswide, how eager do you think the faculty are to use new media for teaching?

A: I am convinced faculty at Berkeley are very anxious to exploit new media technology for education. The problem is time and money. All faculty have many demands on their time. It is hard to find support to learn how to do simple projects, let alone do the more complicated projects. (See story on instructional technology support on page 4.)

Q: What will be the key to its acceptance here?

A: Providing adequate infrastructure, such as computers, fast computer networks, classroom and laboratory facilities, and people. New students and faculty are coming to Berkeley with experience already, so over time the acceptance will go up.

Q: What's the most exciting example you see in the use of the new media on campus?

A: The use of the web for courses. Three student speakers at the conference presented excellent examples of how email, news groups, and the web are now used extensively in classes.

If you look at home pages of various departments on campus you can find lists of class home pages that have a variety of information -- syllabus, lecture notes, assignments, schedules, software, test data, and so forth -- that students can easily access. See http://www-inst. eecs.berkeley.edu/classes.html for examples from EECS.


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