Skidmore's future in technology

Posted by Paulina Phelps

More so in the last decade than ever, technological innovations have been utilized in higher education. Many of the innovations are not themselves advanced, but the embracement of them is what is most progressive.

This new employment of technological innovations has abated the concept that technology is disruptive in higher education. Colleges and universities are communities based on collaboration and innovation, which can be fostered through experimental applications of technology. Skidmore has contributed to this trend as shown in its utilization of technology in the classroom.

Director of Academic Technologies at Skidmore, Beth DuPont, speaks on behalf of the department; "We have encouraged faculty to incorporate technology into the classroom in many different ways, which are not always common knowledge."

As a result of this encouragement and the wave of technological innovations in higher education, Skidmore faculty have become more acquainted with and have employed technology much more often. A key identifier that faculty are more comfortable using technology is the increase in content on Blackboard (almost all professors have their syllabus available online). Another change is the introduction of clickers into the classroom setting. These remotes, used to answer multiple-choice questions, are given to every student in the class and are often used by professors that teach larger lecture-style classes.

Technological enhancements have been made not just in the classroom but also throughout campus. A few of them include improving the televisions in the library so students can pull up content onto the large board instead of everyone huddling around one computer. In addition a television screen was installed in Case Center, which broadcasts campus happenings from weather to sports.

Given the innovations that have been made, Skidmore continues to think toward the future. For example, when it comes to creating Skidmore online courses Skidmore's registrar, David DeConno says, "While the college is following the national conversation regarding online and hybrid courses, we do not offer courses of that nature at this time." Skidmore does accept online courses for transfer credit from other schools, though, as long as the programs are certified and meet Skidmore's requirements.

Some professors have even utilized certain technological programs in their classes. For example the Art History department looks at art from the Web Gallery of Art, a virtual museum that makes art more accessible for students.

Developments such as these should be used among all disciplines. Programs like Skype, which allow for people to communicate from all over the world, should be used in classes. Currently, Skidmore's class, "Islam and the West, Correcting Misperceptions in Person," allows students to communicate directly with students enrolled in Middle Eastern universities via skype, and so far the class has been a success.

The Internet is criticized for replacing physical interaction, however programs like Skype contradict that notion, and make face time more accessible. Crossing thresholds and physical boundaries is what programs like these are doing and what curious-minded students should follow.

Furthermore, just as Skype would allow us to extend the classroom outside of Skidmore, so too would a system in which schools in the New York Six (a consortium of six schools in the New England area which includes Skidmore, Hobart and William Smith College, Union College, Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, and Colgate University) offered online classes to all students of the consortium. Through the creation of this system, students would have the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes with a wide variety of professors, fostering Skidmore's high regard for creativity through collaboration and community based learning.

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