Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight


The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member every month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. Leonora Foels is being recognized in April for her exceptional use of interactive and collaborative technology in her Social Work courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about her exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom.

1. What innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

I incorporate dynamic forms of content in my both my traditional face-to-face and online classes to strengthen student learning. For example, recorded simulations are used in courses so that students have opportunities to engage, apply, reflect, and evaluate their learning. Most recently I have included interactive discussions, games, and quizzes that were created using HP5 and word garden as a primer to my discussion boards in order to introduce the course material, stimulate critical thinking skills, and promote collaborative learning.

2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

Recorded simulations have always been incorporated in my classes. However, in the past year, I taught students how to capture their respective small groups simulations using MU Video (Kaltura) and embed the link to their recorded simulations into the discussion board. Collaborate Ultra has also been used to capture teaching simulations for the last three years. This allows for peer review. Most recently, I was introduced to HP5. I can honestly say that I simply love what it can do!

3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

Students absolutely enjoy these new practices. They have expressed how their initial perspectives were challenged and now have a new appreciation for reflective practices. Additionally, students appear to be more engaged in conversation with classmates both on D2L and in face to face classes.

4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom learning environment?

I find that students are more open in their communication and developing trusting relationships. I also find that they are more actively engage the course material.

5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

While students appeared to be intimidated by the technology at first glance, they were receptive to statements of encouragement. I frequently reassured students to “trust the process” and not be afraid of experimenting with technology as it is here to stay. As far as level of participation is concerned, I found myself not needing to specify the number of times students were required to post in a discussion board (as often) or call on students to contribute to a discussion in class, as they were more interactive and engaged. It was wonderful to see students take ownership for their own learning and establishing group cohesion.

6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

The main issue was learning-by-doing. The unfamiliarity with new programs, as expected, leads to some trepidation. But I have come to realize that I am learning alongside my students and together, we can problem solve.

7. How did attending Camp IDEA or a CAE Professional Development Session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

I learned quite a bit from Camp Idea and TOCC as it enabled me to see the many possibilities and resources available to design my courses, create and implement dynamic forms of content while being available to students. As a reflective instructor, I am always trying to grow and am enthusiastic to learn new innovative practices. I am thankful to Josh (who is no longer with MU) for teaching me how to use MU Video and Collaborate Ultra effectively and supported me as I taught my students. I am especially grateful for being able to work with Marie Firestone on a regular basis.