Kent State gains technology tips from conference

Breanne George

Today’s students are “digital natives” – different from past generations because of the technology they grew up with.

Understanding this factor is key to incorporating emerging technologies into the classroom, as New Media Center staff members learned at the New Media Consortium conference.

The conference, called “New Challenges – New Ideas,” was held at Yale University from Oct. 5 to 7. Joe Murray, director of New Media, Assistant Manager Carol Moore and four multimedia developers attended the three-day conference, which included 21 sessions focused around three tracks.

“Conferences like this one allow our staff to raise the standard of new media process and theory and integrate emerging ideas and technology with teaching and practice,” Murray said.

Among the tracks discussed was innovative academic technology and how to implement it to improve the classroom experience for technology-savvy college students.

Murray said the keynote speaker at the conference, author Marc Prensky, emphasized that college students today are different than past generations because they grew up with computers and various forms of technology.

“The result of this is that you will certainly see us developing more immersive and learner-centered technology where appropriate to appeal to these more technology-savvy students,” Murray said.

The conference also discussed incorporating educational game models, similar to role playing, into the classroom where students are graded on participation rather than the outcome of the game.

“Today’s generation needs to be engaged in the learning experience,” Multimedia Developer Elizabeth Wyglendowski said. “Role-playing games in the classroom can be used with or without technology, but the classroom would likely incorporate some form of multimedia.”

Wyglendowski, who is in her 20s, said her experience at the conference was unique because she is young enough to be considered one of the “digital natives.” She said she knows from being part of today’s generation that technology and interaction is vital in the classroom. She said she was glad the conference brought the issue to life.

“The ideas learned from the conference can be applied at Kent State,” Wyglendowski said. “Professors just need to be aware of the possibilities.”

Murray said the best part of the conference is the collaboration that takes place among the attendees.

“Some things we learn are actually communicated directly back to our New Media Center during the conference,” Murray said. “Likewise, particular questions and issues from Kent are passed to the individuals attending.”

Murray said the New Media Center is discussing co-sponsoring the 2006 national conference, which will be held at Case Western Reserve University.

Contact academic technology reporter Breanne George at [email protected].