Dr. Beverly J. Hearn is Director of the Reading Center and Associate Professor of Education. She enjoys developing online courses for educators as well as working closely with West Tennessee teachers to increase the use of technology in their classrooms. Through Project RICA, an ITQ grant, she has integrated the use of Kindles and iPads in Reading Center classes.
1. Do you think technology helps you teach better? If so, how?
Many students say discussion board is the most rewarding aspect of online classes. It promotes professionalism and collegiality among our teacher candidates and provides an open forum to discuss their own experiences and learning.
ECHO 360 is unbeatable. We record every class in READ 438, a very content laden class, and students can review the videos, which are automatically recorded and made accessible in the “Class Materials” section on Blackboard. Often students use ECHO 360 to reinforce what they learned, as well as for catching up when they are absent. Our students must pass a professional exam called Praxis II, and they use the recordings to review for the exams.
We have also used ECHO 360 to record special guest lecturers who bring in supplementary information, which is important, but not easily available. For instance, in READ 710 we use the ECHO 360 set up to record an educational diagnostician speaking on specific issues in educational assessment and evaluation. With permission of the speaker, we archive the recordings and make them available for future classes. Future students have access to the professional and her information without inconveniencing the guest lecturer who had to visit only one time.
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?
The support of the ITC professionals really facilitates Blackboard; I am always looking to expand its effective use, and there can be challenges when wikis and blogs are being used in untraditional and unforeseen ways. Jessica, Craig, Weston, Harriet, and Samba always step up to the plate and find an answer for any problems on both the instructor and student sides of Blackboard.
The young adult literature class uses a lot of media, and without the copyright issue support provided by Dr. Saunders, the class would not be as enjoyable and rewarding for the students.
One of the greatest assists that I have received from ITC is the class on online teaching with Steve Holt. I went into that class with a curiosity about online teaching, but after taking the class, I have discovered that online teaching is one of the most creative and rewarding educational endeavors that I have ever participated in. I would like to thank Steve and the ITC for giving me the nudge that I needed to step over the line into the world of online teaching. I truly love it.
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?
The UTM Reading Center was an early adopter of the clicker systems for student feedback, and we continue to use them to sharpen student performance on reading skills where students need extra practice and reinforcement. I would recommend them for any skills based class.
We have a class set of Kindles for Reading 100, and we keep them stocked with the most popular young adult books. The students have been enjoying Kindles now for a couple of years, and our surveys show that they improve reading attitudes and reading self-concepts.
The Reading Center now has an iPad for each student in our Reading 100 classes, taught in cooperation with the Student Success Center. The iPads enable each student to work on reading skills using materials at his or her individual reading level and turn our classroom into a computer lab. We also access e-books and interactive books. We find the technology helps our students focus and engage. News apps, such as USA Today, provide us savings on subscriptions. UTM was awarded an Increasing Teacher Quality grant with 24 West Tennessee teachers to investigate the use of iPads in content area classes. It was exciting to see how middle and secondary teachers matched their curriculum standards with apps and websites and demonstrated how to teach standards in science and social studies using the iPads. These teachers will be using iPads and other materials from the Project RICA grant with their students this fall.