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Oct 01

Penn State DuBois Faculty Member using Technology in Biology

Mr. Robert Agnew, an instructor in Biology at the DeBois campus of Pennsylvania State University, has been recognized for his successes at using new high tech tools in the classroom, not only for integrating new technology, but also for replacing outdated techniques and practices with technological methods, resulting in significant changes to the program.

For the past 2 years, Mr. Agnew has used computer software and 3-D models to teach human anatomy.  Through the use of this technology, the entire school has moved away from the previously common practice (and necessary part of the program) of dissecting cats, a change which students vastly appreciated!  He has achieved such high success with the simulation software that interaction with the real thing was just found to be unnecessary!  Further, since the software was more readily accessible, students in lower level courses were able to get started on the more advanced topics sooner – Mr. Agnew even goes as far to say that the content he was doing when he was a senior is now being done by freshmen.  I like this quote of his:

I no longer teach the way I was taught.  I’ve seen instructional technology evolve from slide projectors and a collection of cassette tape players, to a seemingly limitless array of technologies…Students do benefit from this blended approach to teaching biology courses.” – Robert Agnew

As happens in many circumstances after introducing technology to his teaching, Mr. Agnew has began a project to determine if the overall grades have increased from before the change over until now.  This is always a temptation when implementing something new, because we all believe deep down that something is only truly successful if the overall grades are higher.  Of course, this concept is seriously faulty – just look at the results of the “No Child Left Behind” policy and you will see how faulty it is.  Success must be defined in a very broad way…in fact, I might go so far as suggesting that using technology in any way that the students consider useful (regardless of how it changes their grades) might be considered successful.

Mr. Agnew has been recognized by being invited to give a talk next month at the 4th annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at the College of Southern Maryland, which he has entitled “From Teaching As I was Taught To Immersion In Instructional Technology“.  His research in to using technology in his teaching was funded by grants from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, and the DuBois Educational Foundation.

Original story

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