New CEAS Task Force on eLearning

By: Diana Riggs
Date: May 7, 2018

CEAS hopes to leverage their strong connection to technology in newest eLearning initiative.

Angela Boronyak, PhD, assistant professor-educator for the College of Engineering of Applied Science recently joined a new eLearning task force for CEAS, along with Pat Fortney, Prashant Khare, Shomir Wilson, and Aimee Frame. Eugene Rutz, the Academic Director from CEAS, is leading the task force. Their mission is to investigate ways to integrate technology into CEAS courses.

Integrated appropriately, technology can take education to the next level. When the application is less than strategic, it can be a major hindrance to learning. The task force carefully considers the impact of proposed technology-related curriculum changes to make sure students are not negatively impacted. “We want to make these options available to students, but we also want to ensure it is to their benefit,” said Boronyak, who is also undergraduate program director for the department of biomedical engineering.

Boronyak is investigating a variety of e-learning options for the college; she suggests a tailored approach where different types of technology are implemented based on the course’s structure and goals. The team strongly considers the time and resources available to invest in the transition.
Uses of technology in CEAS courses could range from the supplementary use of smart phones in a traditional lecture to providing courses with online elements. It will not be feasible for some courses to be entirely online (especially those that include a lab component) but Boronyak is confident that technology can enhance learning across the college, even if certain portions of the class remain in traditional formats.

Boronyak has personally received positive feedback from students when she implements technology in her own teaching. She teaches a computer-aided design course in a flipped learning environment. Content that would traditionally be covered in a live lecture is provided online for the student to access independently. Students devote class time to active learning and problem solving.

The flipped learning model gives students time to process course content before they are expected to demonstrate understanding, allowing more time in class for meaningful interactions. Students highly value digital resources they can revisit at any time, like Boronyak’s video demonstrations of SOLIDWORKS software concepts. The flipped learning model expects students to actively take charge of their learning and practice discipline with independent work.

Strategic use of technology benefits instructors, as well. In the right classroom, flipped learning can relieve pressure on instructors, who could potentially spend more time with individual students, especially in larger classes. Multimedia content is more engaging to students, and reinforces the interconnectivity of science, engineering, and technology.

Boronyak hopes to leverage CEAS’s strong connection to technology in this initiative. Boronyak encourages fellow faculty to consider new ways to enhance learning through technology and to contact the task force to join the project or offer any suggestions.