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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Fall 1995, Vol.15, No.3
Plugging P&S into the:Technological Age: by Doug Brunk
A New Kind of Lab:Faculty Design New Ways To Teach Modern Students

Charles Greengerg
Dr. Andrew Wit
The way Charles Greenberg tells it, some Health Sciences faculty shy away from exploring how they might apply aspects of computer technology to their teaching and learning. "There's tended to be an inertia factor in getting more senior or experienced faculty members to look at the desirable aspects of using computer technology, simply because either they've been teaching something a similar way for a very long time, or they've never seen the point where it makes sense for them to dive into something new," says Mr. Greenberg, instructional technologies librarian with the Center for Academic Information Technology.

In response to this standstill, Mr. Greenberg and his colleagues created the Curriculum Design Studio (CDS), a place where educators and students wary of technology can learn the nuts and bolts of multimedia and curriculum design. Pat Molholt, assistant vice president and associate dean for scholarly resources, calls it a "playground" for exploration.

It is hoped that curriculum designed in the CDS will correspond to the theory of constructivist learning, which suggests that students retain more knowledge by establishing "links" between different bodies of knowledge. "One of my goals for the studio is to provide teachers with the idea that they're designing curriculum for times when students are going to be out of the classroom in a non-lecture format and be responsible to access, integrate, and study information on their own," Mr. Greenberg says. "Constructivist learning theory over the last 10 years has become very popular in curriculum design in general. But there is a delicate balance between giving students the rein to go as far as they want by themselves and providing direction. That paradox continues to be something we have to address." Nestled in a second-floor corner of Hammer Health Sciences Library, the CDS is a modest workroom containing a variety of multimedia hardware, including an optical scanner, laserdisc, CD-ROM, videotape players, and IBM and Macintosh computers. Studio staff provide software tools for computer-based authoring, illustration, animation, and design.

Last spring, Dr. Andrew Wit, professor of pharmacology, sought the studio's help in the design of a tutorial for the clinical pharmacology course he teaches to second-year medical and nursing students. Mr. Greenberg matched him with a computer student from Teachers College who earned course credit to help Dr. Wit construct an interactive prototype. Dr. Wit describes the value of creating visually based material to supplement course work. "It will give the lecturers more leeway, and it also will give the students an alternative way of studying rather than just trying to memorize lecture notes. The program might have some cases where students would go through steps in treating a patient, so they could learn about drug effects, toxicities, and things of that sort." "Some faculty members describe it as being bitten by the bug," Mr. Greenberg says. "We are getting senior faculty and course directors for P&S coming here and saying, 'It's time I do this. I really do feel that computers are here to stay.' They can see that the majority of students are comfortable using the computer to learn."

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