While Florida A&M University students are enjoying summer activities, such as internships and study abroad experiences; faculty are hard at work finding unique ways to overhaul their classrooms by weaving the latest technology infusion upgrades into their courses.
Professors are redesigning their classes in preparation for fall to include the use of blended/hybrid approaches to teaching and learning. The course redesign efforts are a component of the University’s newly launched Provost’s Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) and promote student engagement, class discussions and instruction all within the swipe of an iPad or tablet.
The initiative’s launch was celebrated during FAMU’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference, which was recently held to promote best practices for course redesign and student engagement among faculty.
According to Genyne Boston, Ph.D., associate provost for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, the initiative works to ensure that faculty members connect with students in the technology realm they are familiar with, such as the use of popular apps, to enhance learning outcomes and the learning environment.
“The goal of the Provost’s Digital Learning Initiative is to transform the teaching and learning landscape at Florida A&M University in order to ensure that our students have exceptional experiences in the classroom,” Boston said. “Digital innovations like those adopted by our initiative promote student-centered instructional practice and enhance the expertise of our outstanding faculty.”
The program’s objectives include:
- Increasing the utilization of digital learning instruction campus-wide
- Improving the quality of the student learning experience
- Enhancing the instructional knowledge and expertise of faculty who are committed to transforming their learning environments through digital innovation
According to FAMU’s Teaching & Learning Center Program Coordinator Deidre P. Williams, faculty members of the 2017-2018 cohort recently completed an intensive five-week workshop series and will participate in a second workshop this June-July. Each workshop offers in-depth training, interactive dialogues and collaborative visioning exercises to foster personal and professional growth for participants, allowing them to align their teaching methods with the best digital learning practices and share their insight with colleagues.
“It is important that each DLI fellow have the proper support and resources needed to redesign and teach their courses,” Williams said. “The Teaching & Learning Center at FAMU helps to facilitate the course redesign process by providing each fellow with access to instructional designers and the latest technology to make the integration of digital tools seamless. As a result, the fellows have already started to lay the groundwork for innovation through digital learning to occur at FAMU.”
Participating professors in the inaugural 2017-2018 cohort include:
- Muhammad Haseeb, Ph.D., College of Agriculture and Food Sciences
- Aurelia Alexander, OTD, School of Allied Health Sciences
- Rebecca Blankenship, Ph.D., College of Education
- Katherine Milla, Ph.D., College of Agriculture and Food Sciences
- Ramesh Katam, Ph.D., College of Science and Technology
- Victor Eno, Ph.D., College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities
- Rajiv Dalal, Sc.D., School of Allied Health Sciences
- Park Bum Sang, Ph.D., School of Architecture and Engineering Technology
- Charlotte Baker, DrPH, College and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
- Errick Farmer, Ph.D., School of Business and Industry
Professor Rebecca Blankenship, Ph.D., praised the impact of the initiative.
“I applied to become a fellow of the Provost’s Digital Learning Initiative because I wanted to redesign my classes to be more reflective of and responsive to the authentic needs of the 21st-century learner,” Blankenship said. “The program has enabled me to more deeply reflect on my current teaching methods and course construct. I am looking forward to the next phase of the project as we move forward with retooling our courses for fall 2017.”
Photo: From front to back starting at the left: Victor Eno, Ph.D., College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities; Ramesh Katam, Ph.D., College of Science and Technology; Katherine Milla, Ph.D., College of Agriculture and Food Sciences; Rebecca Blankenship, Ph.D., College of Education; Muhammad Haseeb, Ph.D., College of Agriculture & Food Sciences; Rajiv Dalal, Sc.D., School of Allied Health Sciences; Aurelia Alexander, OTD, School of Allied Health Sciences; Charlotte Baker, DrPH, College and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Errick Farmer, Ph.D., School of Business and Industry ; Park Bum Sang, Ph.D., School of Architecture and Engineering Technology.
The College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS) developed the Center for Health Equity (CHE) to evaluate and provide solutions for the elimination of health disparities in underserved populations through research, education and building community linkages. Models to evaluate and reduce disparities will be created and evaluated across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic categories, and the findings will be used to recommend changes intended to improve health and disease-related outcomes and health care policy as it affects underserved populations. The Center is composed of an interdisciplinary team representing pharmacy, medicine, nursing, psychology, public health and social work. The creation of the Center is consistent with the mission and strategic plan of the COPPS, and it will provide an avenue for expanded research, student training, continuing education and community empowerment.
Conducting research, building a workforce to improve health in the underserved and strengthening community linkages are the major objectives. Through its many affiliations, the COPPS already has direct patient care responsibilities in underserved communities that include African-American, Hispanic and Haitian populations and is uniquely positioned throughout the State of Florida. Empowering communities to assume roles in health education is also a major focus and through effective intervention and research, models will be evaluated and reported to assess optimal procedures to achieve this. The COPPS currently has global affiliations, and it is poised to train professionals desiring to study problems associated with global health disparities as well.