Like many schools, the University of Missouri-St. Louis has an ever-increasing number of students enrolled in fully online courses. Keeta Holmes remembers one such student from a nursing course. Using VoiceThread, the student participated in a collaborative slideshow discussion about a patient case study. Her voice shaking with emotion, the student shared her recommendations about what the medical team might have done differently. Holmes said VoiceThread allowed this student and her classmates to engage and share what they’ve learned in ways they couldn’t otherwise.
“We might not have understood the depth of her connection to the activity in a regular discussion board,” Holmes said. “It is hard to imagine the educational environment without technology. Not only has it expanded access to education, it creates opportunities for communication and collaboration outside the typical walls of a classroom.”
For Holmes, technology is a door that brings faculty in to talk about teaching and learning. She designed and developed a popular nine-week course design program, Online in 9, to help faculty design online courses. Since the program began, nearly 400 faculty have participated. Holmes also reshaped the Focus on Teaching and Technology Conference, increasing conference participants by 57 percent since 2011. She attracted presenters and attendees from all over the world, and made the conference both mobile and digital.
“Educators may initially be curious about a tool, but the part I love is that it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we can improve the student experience,” Holmes said. “Most importantly, technology allows students to be more active in the learning process and gives them myriad platforms to connect with experts, content, tools and community.” — Jennifer Snelling