Leveraging Innovative Technology to Promote Student Collaboration and Engagement for Cross-campus Blended Courses

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session Best in Strand

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Implementations of innovative technology focusing on student engagement in cross-campus, blended courses will be explored. A round robin of emerging technologies/practices will include interactive open educational resources, mobile/student generated video, robotic presence, mobile group messaging, social networking, polling across geographic boundaries, gaming, e-book implementation, and group project technologies.


Amy Kuntz is as Instructional Designer within Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State University and has been in the field of higher education since 2006. Her main role is to work with faculty in the design and development of blended/online/video-conferencing courses for shared degree programs. As Instructional Designer, Amy's work also consists of facilitating a university-wide Learning Design community with other members of her department, working on large/strategic pedagogical redesign projects for the university, and supporting shared degree programs by offering faculty development, technology pilots, and operational support initiatives. Amy Kuntz received a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University. She has been an active Quality Matters Peer Reviewer and adjunct professor since 2008 teaching for-credit academic courses in both the face-to-face and online environments. Her professional interests include emerging instructional design models, pedagogical research, and quality assurance in online education.
Julie Lang serves as the OER Coordinator within Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State University. Julie began her career in higher education at Penn State in 2003 with University Libraries. She moved on to work as an Instructional Designer at Penn State World Campus and from 2006-2014 served as the lead designer for online programs including the MS in Children Literature, MS in Project Management, and several BS degree programs. In 2014 she accepted an instructional design position with the newly founded initiative, Campus Collaborative Programs, an effort supporting both Teaching and Learning with Technology and Commonwealth Campus Shared Academic Programs. 2016 brought the opportunity to move into the role of Open Educational Resource Coordinator. Julie moved into the role of OER Coordinator in December 2016 and greatly enjoys partnering with faculty across the commonwealth to advance the adoption, adaption, and authoring of open content to benefit students at Penn State and beyond. Julie received degrees from Penn State University in Education as well as a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University. Her professional interests include faculty development in adopting, adapting, and authoring open educational resources, content sharing best practices and strategies, and the advancement of Universal Design for Learning through the use of open content.

Extended Abstract

A geographically dispersed research institution has implemented shared academic degree programs traversing multiple campus locations. By offering degree programs in a structured manner across campuses, there has been new opportunities for students who may not otherwise have had access to a larger student/faculty community locally or have had the ability to transfer to another campus location to complete their degree. By offering flexible program delivery consisting of a mixture of online courses and blended video-conferencing courses, the shared degree programs meet the demands of students who want more local choices and do not want to take their program entirely online.
Shared degree programs bring together faculty with a wide range of experiences in various instructional delivery modes. Many faculty have not taught blended courses that traverse multiple campuses via video-conferencing technology. As faculty adapt to this teaching medium, new emerging best practices and use of innovative technology were needed to ensure that student collaboration and engagement remained at the forefront of their teaching practices.
Approach and Results:
Faculty teaching cross-campus blended courses have leveraged emerging technologies and practices learned via professional development opportunities and guidance from instructional designers to create dynamic, innovative, engaging courses.  While doing so, faculty have incorporated sound pedagogical practices for student across geographic boundaries, provided seamless and consistent student experiences, and fostered engaging student interactions and active learning opportunities. These faculty in different disciplines have received positive student feedback about the emerging technology integration / engagement practices. To promote these practices among colleges, instructional designers supporting cross-campus blended courses have fostered a technical and pedagogical culture of inventing, sharing, and revising effective cross-campus blended course practices.
Session Information:
This session will focus on the emerging technologies and practices employed in cross-campus, blended courses along with explanations of how they were implemented within particular courses. The session attendees will have an interactive experience as the presenters will model best practices of increasing engagement for geographically dispersed blended courses during the session along with encouraging a dialogue among participants throughout the session.
The generalized technologies/practices with references of how they were applied in cross-campus blended courses include:

  • engaging with interactive open educational resources to employ flipped instruction approaches
  • fostering student creativity and skills by having students create mobile generated videos in the field
  • employing robotic presence in a blended course across geographic boundaries to establish instructor presence and assist with in-class group work
  • assembling mobile group messaging as an informal classroom discussion platform and as a way to give student clarification when needed/asked
  • establishing social networking and online discussion experiences that extend beyond traditional online discussion boards
  • utilizing uniquely applied synchronous polling features across geographic boundaries that were followed by engaging interactions
  • integrating a more private back-channel for synchronous sessions for immediate feedback
  • applying gaming techniques in-class along with adapted/personal-created games for pre-class work
  • implementing free/personal generated e-books in lieu of paid textbook publisher books/e-books
  • creating and implementing group project technologies for geographically dispersed student groups

The technologies that will be shown include, but are not limited to: Open Educational Resources, iMovie and WeVideo on mobile phones, BeamPro robot, GroupMe, Yammer, Plickers, Flubaroo in conjunction with Google Forms, TodaysMeet, Quizizz or Kahoot, Pressbooks, and Stoodle.
By the end of the session, attendees will: 

  • recall the guiding principles / rationale of incorporating emerging technologies practices in cross-campus blended courses
  • state multiple emerging technologies and paraphrase how they were incorporated in a classroom environment
  • analyze the explanation and course application of example technologies to determine if it is an appropriate use within their own course
  • engage with at least two of the emerging technologies presented during the session
  • discuss and participate in dialogue of the emerging technologies and practices covered during the session