Supporting Our Faculty: One Instructor’s Experiences with Instructional Support Services

NC State faculty are world-renowned experts in many areas, but they are not always familiar with using learning technologies. That’s why they turn to DELTA’s Instructional Support Services (ISS) team for help. This team of instructional technologists helps build instructors’ skills and confidence as they incorporate technology into their teaching. ISS assists hundreds of instructors each year through DELTA’s services, including workshops and seminars, the LearnTech Help Desk and one-on-one instructional consultations. Dr. Mark Keen, teaching assistant professor of microbiology, began attending DELTA workshops during DELTA’s 2010 Summer Institute, and he keeps coming back for more.

“Sometimes I attend the same workshop two or three times,” Keen said. “I think we’re all on a learning curve and I am always learning something new at DELTA.”

What Keen has learned from attending DELTA’s workshops allows him to more efficiently manage his large general microbiology courses, which generally run between 200 and 300 students per semester. With the experience he gained from Moodle workshops, Keen has greatly improved his efficiency using Moodle’s grade book and quizzes. Through Moodle, his students can easily access their grades in real time. Keen has implemented exams and quizzes online, which has eliminated the need to organize, print, grade and return hundreds of paper microbiology tests.

Keen also learned to use Blackboard Collaborate through one of DELTA’s workshops, which was taught remotely through Collaborate itself. He found DELTA’s instructional method—teaching end users a new technology by completely immersing them in it—to be extremely effective. Now, Keen uses Collaborate to host question sessions for his students prior to exams. Previously, question sessions were held on campus in classrooms reserved on the evening prior to the exam. These classroom sessions restricted the number of participating students and restricted access to many due to time and travel conflicts. Implementing Collaborate sessions provides Keen with a more accessible and inclusive real-time method to address students’ questions online the night before an exam.

Stacy Gant, director of DELTA’s ISS team, said the workshop and seminar series is continuously evolving to best serve our faculty’s needs.

“We are constantly adding to our workshops—improving our classes by updating content to reflect new features and adding new seminars each semester to reflect emerging technologies and hot topics in higher education,” Gant said.

In addition to attending DELTA workshops and seminars, Keen frequently consults DELTA for support through the LearnTech Help Desk. When setting up the Moodle grade book for his courses, Keen requested an instructional consultation with a DELTA staff member to resolve his questions. Keen believes the support he has received from ISS has enhanced his effectiveness as a large course instructor.

“I’m a lot luckier than my colleagues who teach at smaller colleges,” Keen said. “They just don’t have this kind of support service for learning management software. I would have never experienced or learned many of these online learning management technologies without the support I’ve received from LearnTech and DELTA at NC State.”

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For more DELTA stories like this one, explore the DELTA Annual Report 2012-2013.