Faculty and staff from Tusculum College recently returned from a conference held at Lees-McRae College that focused on learning about the tools and technology available with the use of the Sakai online course management system used by the college.
The group of five spent several days at the Banner Elk, N.C., campus attending workshops and working collaboratively with representatives from other colleges and universities. Attending the conference were B.J. Roberts, instructional technology specialist; Gary Quinton, instructional technology specialist; Dr. DiAnn Casteel, associate professor of education; Dr. Kathy Stone, assistant professor of mathematics, and Amy Lyttle, assistant professor of education.
The conference is sponsored by the Learning Asset Management Project (LAMP). Tusculum College is one of 15 schools who make up the LAMP consortium. Through the College’s participation in LAMP, the Sakai program is available to all staff, faculty and students.
According to Roberts, the workshops are a valuable opportunity to sharpen skills in teaching with technology, to develop a course, to investigate collaborative projects with faculty from other schools and to become a more integrated member of the LAMP community.
“The faculty workshops focused on using Sakai in the classroom to achieve learning goals,” said Roberts. “There were some important workshops focused on utilizing various tools on Sakai, as well as strategies for employing the use of Sakai in the classroom.”
One of the more interesting new features added this year is a video conference tool that will be available for use on the Tusculum campus this fall.
In addition to attending sessions, Roberts was also a co-presenter at one session. His session focused on a new evaluation tool that was recently piloted at Lenoir-Rhyne College. Roberts, along with Sabrina Crawford of Lenoir-Rhyne, focused on the basics of the tool, the implementation of the pilot program and the assessment of the results. Tusculum also piloted the tool in the 2009-10 spring semester.
“I think this will be a popular tool with our faculty, as it will benefit them by allowing them to receive the evaluation results more quickly,” he said.
Others that attended the conference also felt it was a good investment of their time and effort.
“I can’t imagine teaching without Sakai,” said Casteel, who uses the system in all of her education classes. “The students really appreciate having it implemented so that they can always know where they stand in the class. They know their assignments, due dates and their grades at any point in time.”
She added, “This year I will be giving students the opportunity to use Sakai to encourage group collaboration on specific projects. I feel much more confident in moving in this direction after having attending the workshop.”
Roberts, who was elected to serve as one of five members of the LAMP Advisory Council at the conference, said that the group has plans to share what they learned at the conference with other members of Tusculum’s faculty and staff.
“There is information here that can benefit everyone who works with Sakai, either in the classroom or for administrative purposes,” he said. “Sakai is a very effective way of delivering a course management system online and is extremely cost effective.”