Conference celebrates educational technology

Megan Whinnery

Julie Burke, training coordinator for the department of education technology and distributed learning, talks to a group of faculty members at the Innovative Learning Conference Friday in Moulton Hall. MEGHAN GAURILOFF | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Technology and learning were celebrated with a white-frosted cake and informative sessions at the Innovative Learning Conference on Friday in the Moulton Hall Ballroom.

The day-long conference had 45 sessions participants could attend that addressed topics ranging from iPods in education to lighting for digital presentations. Game-based learning, security regulations and student rights and virtual conferences/meetings were also session topics.

“I still remember getting excited about Pong,” said Dale Cook, Research Center for Educational Technology director, about the leaps and bounds gaming technology has made.

Cook taught the session on digital game-based learning. Students need to get engaged in the classroom, and games might be the solution, he said.

“The whole focus of schools is on standards,” Cook said. “The focus of games is on imagination; the two haven’t integrated very well.”

One of the problems with games and education is that commercial games are often viewed as a distraction to learning, he said.

“Commercial games are seen as being fun, with little content,” Cook said. “Educational games are seen as boring.”

Games are a $27-billion industry, which is even bigger than the box office for movies, Cook said.

“There were 228 million games sold in 2005, that’s nearly two for every household in America,” he said.

The session on security regulations and student rights was taught by Greg Seibert, director of security and compliance for Information Services.

Most problems with security and rights are because technology is outpacing society, he said.

A breach of security regulations for student rights has stiff penalties and can be hazardous to students, Seibert said. The best rule of thumb to follow is to research before releasing information, he said.

One of the biggest violators of student rights for students is the e-mail and phone directory, Seibert said. Students can choose to “opt out” of the directory, but they are often still asked for information.

Seibert offered users of Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace the following advice: “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents, your future employer or the creepy guy down the street to see.”

The conference also featured keynote speaker Julie Little, executive director of educational technology and the Innovative Technology Center and interim assistant CIO at the University of Tennessee. Little’s presentation was titled “Faculty and IT: Even the Lone Ranger had a Partner.”

Little said the best way for faculty to solve innovative technology problems is to work as a team. Technology adoption varies from person to person, ranging from the early adopters, also known as innovators, to late adopters, also known as laggards, she said.

“Every discipline can make use of innovative technology in one form or another,” Little said. “The tools used in teaching can also be used to support scholarship.”

Apple sponsored a 20 GB iPod that was raffled off. Participants for the Echo Imaging poster session were entered in a drawing to win a DVD player, among other prizes.

Contact academic computing reporter Megan Whinnery at [email protected].