Michael Wong, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, designed a course using technology to create a virtual exchange with students and researchers at San Francisco University in Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador.
In a technology-enhanced classroom, neuroscience students from McMaster University teamed up with students from an Ecuadorian university to share knowledge while gaining cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary experiences. Elsewhere on campus, instructors are using digital tools to make presentations and course materials more accessible.
These are just a few examples of how technology is already being used at McMaster to improve learning inside and outside the classroom and improve accessibility.
To provide direction and advance the use of technology as a learning tool, McMaster is developing a Digital Learning Strategy Framework as part of the Teaching and Learning Partnership Strategy introduced in May 2021. He recognizes that online and technology-enhanced classrooms have changed teaching and a learning environment for educators and students. To inform the framework, students, staff, and instructors have been consulted over the past year using an evidence-based and pedagogical approach to identify tools, platforms, and methods that can help optimize learning.
“McMaster is well positioned to take advantage of the technological innovations around us,” said Susan Tighe, provost and vice president (Academic). “I have seen our instructors challenge the ways and methods of teaching and learning as they strive to achieve excellence and connect McMaster to the global research and education community. education. Having a framework will bring a degree of unity to our campus.
McMaster’s proposed digital learning strategy framework prioritizes the use of technology to improve pedagogy, foster inclusive excellence, and cultivate innovative learning spaces.
“The digital learning strategy aims to enhance and complement the in-person learning experience,” says Kim Dej, Vice-Rector, Teaching and Learning.
“It is important for McMaster to have digital learning spaces and tools that will help prepare our students for the future of work and connect them with researchers, communities, industry partners and future employers around the world. »
The framework also recognizes that digital pedagogies and tools have the potential to help reduce or overcome certain barriers to learning, such as inaccessible course materials, family and personal responsibilities and obligations, transportation issues, physical barriers in the classroom and geographic location.
The framework also includes recognition of how technology-enabled learning can enhance digital literacy skills for educators, staff and learners. These skills go beyond the ability to use technology and are essential lifelong skills for living, learning and working effectively in a digitally enhanced environment.
At the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences, Michael Wong, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, used technology to create a virtual exchange with students and researchers from San Francisco University of Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador.
Wong started teaching at McMaster in 2013, before leaving for a brief period and then returning in 2020.
“It was during the height of the pandemic and I was looking for ways to give my students experiences beyond those traditionally contained in a physical classroom,” Wong said. “That’s when I heard about a virtual exchange program at the Office of International Affairs.”
Through Collaborative International Online Learning (COIL)Wong gave his students collaborative assignments in partnership with USFQ students.
“Students in Ecuador were taking a course on the brain and behavior. I teach a course in neuroplasticity, so there was a natural alignment between the two,” says Wong. “Students in Ecuador focused on how the brain works in relation to behavior, while my students take that information and think about interventions. Combining our two institutions has been a great learning opportunity for both.
Wong says everyone involved also learned about institutional, cultural and educational differences.
For Simranjeet Singh, president of the McMaster Students Union (MSU), it’s great to see student voices reflected in the frame.
“MSU is very pleased that students participated in the series of consultations and working groups that informed the framework,” Singh said.
“Students have unique perspectives. Technology has the potential to introduce the flexibility students need to navigate difficult life situations, to reduce costs, and even provide a measure of equitable access to education.
As a student himself, Singh says he noticed that using asynchronous collaboration tools was a solution for a few vocal individuals to dominate a discussion, while other tools allowed for more specific lesson materials for each. class.
“Technology can make education more impactful and inspiring,” he says. “I hope students will continue to contribute as the framework evolves.”