The Instructional Technology Center picks one faculty member (or several members) each semester to be our "focus". Thus we like to call this feature of our website the 'Focus on Faculty''. They are chosen based on their use of technology and how they incorporate that technology into their teaching.
Dr. Chris Baxter
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Dr.Baxter holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Alabama, and studies judicial politics, particularly judicial selection and judicial behavior in the state and federal courts.
We recognize Dr. Baxter for his use of Facebook, YouTube, and other online applications in classroom instruction and with student groups for which he serves as adviser.
1. Do you think using technology helps you teach better? If so, how?
Without a doubt. Educators feel an obligation to make their subject as "accessible" as they can, both in a cognitive sense and in a physical sense, and technology can help with both. Unfortunately, we cannot always teach to every student's preferred learning style, and we cannot be with them every hour of the day. With Blackboard, Facebook, YouTube, etc., however, I can expose them to a wide range of perspectives and approaches from around the world (or just within their own class, with the help of Discussion Boards). Second, and perhaps more importantly, the students can absorb all of this as they are sitting in front of their laptop at 11:30 at night or on their iPod as they are walking across campus.
2. Is there anything at UTM in regard to technology that you would like to mention that makes a difference for you as you do your job?
I cannot imagine that any other campus in the country that has a better mix of technological resources and training/support staff that UTM has. After using the ITC's online resources and seminars to help me learn about podcasting, online teaching, and online conferencing, I felt guilty that I hadn't started a long time ago. In addition, the library's selection of online databases is about as good as it gets. I went to grad school at the main campus of a state university, and the only access to Lexis/Nexis was at the law school's library. When I came back to UTM, it was available to everybody, and Westlaw soon followed. We are very lucky.
3. What are some current things that you are doing with your courses and your students that you are particularly proud of and want the campus to know about?
I wish I could tell you that I am doing some very cutting edge stuff, but honestly I am just trying to keep up with the trends. I use Facebook to help my student organizations keep in touch and recruit new members; I am podcasting all of my lectures; and I have a Web site to help with my pre-law and internship advising.
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