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Chad Baldwin
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Phone: (307) 766-2929
Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Organizers Hope Conference Inspires Innovative Technology, Distance-Education Uses


September 3, 2013 — There is no Wizard of Oz offering solutions, but weaving technology and teaching along the yellow brick road could enhance learning for students.

"e-Volution: Innovations in learning environments" and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Western Region Teaching Symposium seeks to help teachers and trainers discover and share innovative ways to use technology to enhance teaching and learning.

The conference is Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14, in the Wyoming Union. Its keynote speaker says we’re not in Kansas anymore.

“We need to make sure what we teach and how we teach is reflective of the present, not the past,” notes Gary Moore, professor of agriculture and extension education at North Carolina State University.

His presentation contains images, sound and video from the “Wizard of Oz.”

Conference partners include the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UW Outreach School, Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning, and UW Libraries. Its theme is “Finding the Balance: Technology and the Future of Education.”

“Gary Moore is fun, inspiring and very energetic,” says Professor Karen Williams in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and member of the Western Region Teaching Symposium (WRTS). She is a member of the joint conference committee organizing the conference.

The event includes best practices for integrating social media into the classroom, virtual laboratories, pedagogical innovation with technology, video-conferencing, blogging in the classroom, assistive technology, UW’s new learning management system and online group projects.

The conference will stream online on its website at www.wyoforum.org.

Williams reflects two firsts for the annual e-Volution conference: the first time e-Volution has partnered with a UW college, and the first time WRTS has decided to partner. 

The financial partnership of WRTS with e-Volution results in no registration fees for WRTS attendees, and e-Volution wants its partnership with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a model to partner with a different UW college each year.

The partnership has added different technology and pedagogy to WRTS, says Professor Donna Brown, associate dean and director of the Office of Academic and Student Programs in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She also is chair of WRTS.

“Such as virtual attendance at many of the sessions,” she says. Her goal also is to help faculty members in some of the agriculturally related disciplines see how they can incorporate technology and distance education techniques into their teaching.

The conference isn’t agricultural related.

“For each concurrent session, there will be two options,” says Williams, who also directs the Bachelor of Applied Science Program at UW. “One is by a faculty member in a college of agriculture and one is by a presenter in a different area. However, all the presentations are great for anyone to attend. The content highlights interdisciplinary application for strategies.”        

Each presenter from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has been honored repeatedly for excellence in teaching and use of technology in teaching: Williams; Rachel Watson, associate academic professional in molecular biology; Associate Professor Kari Morgan and Professor Randy Weigel in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Professor Emeritus Steve Williams in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Other presenters are:

-- Athena Kennedy, student engagement coordinator at Colorado State University onlinePlus.

-- Debra Beck, longtime teacher for the Outreach Credit Program at UW and a member of the UW College of Education. She incorporates audio, social bookmarking, wikis and YouTube in her courses.

-- Benjamin George, an instructor in landscape and architecture and environmental planning at Utah State University,

-- Cody Connor, instructional technology educational specialist in the UW Outreach School; and,

-- Wendy Alameda, assistive technology specialist for the WIND Assistive Technology Resources at UW.

Photo:
Professor Karen Williams is among committee members who helped to organize the conference. (UW Photo)

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