Technology Transforms Physical and Virtual Classrooms
Technologically innovative approaches help make Brockport a great place to learn.
At The College at Brockport, advances in technology are changing the way professors
teach and students learn.
"We want students to have skills that move beyond the rubric, such as analysis, evaluation, and creation," said Dale Hartnett, interim administrator of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. "That's where your value comes in society."
Students are acquiring those skills — those that will prepare them to make a difference in their fields — largely thanks to the increased integration of technology both in the classroom and in cyberspace.
Nursing Simulation Curriculum
Senior nursing major Shelby Brown once accidentally administered a patient too much medication while under stress in
a guided learning experience.
The patient went unharmed, because — although it could breathe, blink, and talk — it wasn't real. Brown was performing in a simulated clinical experience on campus alongside a team of her peers and under the guidance of professors.
According to Registered Nurse Janie Dennis, who directs laboratory and simulation education in the Department of Nursing, opportunities for nursing students to engage in hands-on learning in clinical settings have become progressively more limited because of increased regulation and patient awareness.
"This makes the lab and simulation learning environment even more important," she said. "It gives students opportunities to become proficient in fundamental nursing skills before entering the nursing profession."
Simulation has been part of physicians' medical curriculum for decades but is a newer standard in nursing and other fields, according to Dennis. The College introduced its first simulation technology in 2012. Today, three adult simulators and one pediatric, one newborn, and one birthing simulator belong to the on-campus simulation center.
"Our simulators have heart sounds, lung sounds, bowel sounds, and pulses," said Dennis. "They are able to be programmed to simulate many illnesses that nursing students will encounter in real clinical situations."
Renovated in 2015 to accommodate a simulation facility, Lathrop Hall houses three simulation rooms, a control room operated by nursing faculty who direct simulation scenarios, two practice labs, a medication room, a simulated home environment, and a debriefing room in which faculty and students reflect upon successes and mistakes. While active in a simulated clinical experience, a student functions as would a registered nurse — performing tasks such as "placing an intravenous (IV) catheter, administering IV medications, administering IV fluids, inserting urinary catheters, patient education, communicating with the patient's family, and communication with other members of the healthcare team," said Dennis.
"Simulation is a great way to practice our skills, learn how to work under stressful situations, learn to make decisions on behalf of our patients, and work as a team — all of which we will be doing as nurses," said Brown.
Registered Nurse Mike Starke '14, who now works in the pediatric operating room at Golisano Children's Hospital, feels simulation education better prepared him for professional practice.
"Simulation is meant to challenge students' critical thinking skills, forcing us to use psychomotor skills," he said. "Putting our knowledge into practice in a safe environment is such a great way to learn."
Earth Sciences Visualization Tools
Meteorology major Bob Continelli '18 hopes to become a broadcast meteorologist upon his graduation this month. When interviewing
for opportunities, he noticed all of his potential employers had something in common.
"Meteorologists have been using visualization tools for a few years now, and they want future employees to know how to use them," said Continelli.
Lucky for him, he gained exposure to those tools throughout his undergraduate career, and they have been essential to completing his senior research project on how lightning can be used to forecast for flash flooding potential.
"Without these tools, my project would have taken me 10 times longer," said Continelli. "The system sets up the problems, which gives me more time for the important part — researching and getting results."
Continelli uses the computer-based programs ArcGIS and GR2Analyst, which are used in courses taught by his project advisor, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences Steve Jessup.
"The software ingests radar data and allows the user to view different radar parameters in 2D and 3D," said Jessup. "It allows us to discuss many different concepts about the physical evolution of thunderstorms and other weather events where precipitation is involved."
The technology detects data such as the shape and structure of a storm, the location of rainfall and hail core, evidence of debris, and the type of precipitation occurring. Students in Jessup's Radar/Satellite Meteorology course are required to demonstrate their mastery of the software by presenting on data they analyze using GR2Analyst.
"Although it is one of the harder things our brains have to do, looking at things in 3D is much more informative than it is in 2D or radar," said Mark Noll, professor and chair of the Department of Earth Sciences. "The technology is an immediate attraction because it's fun, but the more you can visualize what's happening in your areas of interest or research, the better understanding you have of it and the deeper the depth of learning that occurs."
According to Noll, this technology is more common at the graduate level at other schools. While the College's meteorology majors are the most frequent users, it has become part of the curriculum for geology and water resources majors, as well.
Online Teaching and Learning
Since the introduction of its first online course more than 10 years ago, the College's
online teaching and learning platform has evolved thanks to creative teaching strategies
coupled with increased technological capabilities.
The number of offerings is multiplying. According to Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Eileen Daniel, 93 percent of all winter 2018 courses were offered online.
Associate Professor of History John Daly has taught several fully online courses, and he feels that no features of effective teaching must be sacrificed in the transition from the classroom to cyberspace.
"I use video capture for my lectures, with multiple media platforms embedded, and interactive student journals and blogs for discussions. I even assign movies in my film classes," said Daly.
Daly and Daniel are both members of the College's 11-person Hybrid-Online Support Team (HOST), which meets regularly to implement and improve resources that facilitate high-quality teaching and learning online.
Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS) provides unique and specialized training and technology support for both online learners and online instructors. Resources include Confluence, a collaborative version of a shared workspace, and Blackboard Collaborate, an online engagement tool and learning management system that promotes student-student collaboration and faculty-student collaboration.
LITS has integrated several unique tools into Blackboard for use by online learners and instructors. VoiceThread, a video/audio band platform, allows for real-time discussions during video lectures or online presentations; Kaltura CaptureSpace allows students and professors to record, publish, and view videos online; and Remote Proctor Now makes it possible for students to take midterms, finals, and other major exams that are proctored — anytime and anywhere.
"I have always found myself interacting more with professors in my online courses than I would face-to-face, because the opportunity to talk to them isn't always given in a lecture-based style," said graduate student Patrick Battin. Because of work obligations, Battin would not have had the opportunity to pursue higher education without the option to complete 100-percent online programs. The Buffalo resident has earned an online bachelor's degree in health science from the College and is working toward an online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. He will attend dental school at the University at Buffalo in the fall.
Enhanced resources have made it possible for the College to offer 11 established, and six soon-to-be-introduced, fully online programs. Hundreds of individual online courses are available to students interested in pursuing a hybrid of online and traditional course work.
"The library and special sessions support staff and the whole HOST team at Brockport work hard and creatively to give students and professors excellent online experiences," said Daly. "The online platform is growing and flourishing at Brockport."