Maxing out the TWT Certificate Experience

For several years now, I have been administering the Teaching with Technology Certificate program for graduate student instructors. It’s a great program which allows students to learn how to think about teaching and putting what they have learned into a portfolio. Ironically, the recent economy has been somewhat of a boon for the program since students can use the portfolio (and certification) not only to develop a reflective portfolio, but also to show future employers what they have learned in the classroom

I think most instructional designers would agree that building a teaching portfolio is a good idea for any grad student. It shows not only an instructor’s technical skills and teaching philosophy but also provides a mechanism to demonstrate mini-teaches (like the great explanation of the blood-brain barrier I read in one portfolio).

But the great thing about this program is that it is giving ETS some unique outreach opportunities. First, it should hopefully generate business for our tools including Blogs at Penn State, podcasting/video tools supported by Media Commons, Web 2.0 tools like wikis and even (yes) ANGEL and Clickers. As these tools are used thoughtfully, we can only hope that the student experience improves and that students may even see how these tools can be adopted for their own uses.

What may be more valuable though is that these portfolios can give us a reflection of how our instructors teach and the tools they use. For instance, I’ve found out that many English instructors teaching rhetoric have found YouTube very useful for providing examples of good and bad rhetoric. Similarly, I can see some which tools are important to math instructors (especially the ones for graphs and equations.) As I talk with more graduate students, I learn what their working environment is like. It’s amazing how much progress ITS makes in some areas and how little in others.

Finally I learn quite a bit about instructional design from the examples used. As much as I try to be instructional-tech savvy, I usually can’t match the nuance of tool usage that an instructor skilled in content, pedagogy and technology brings. The best use of Flickr to group photos came from a classics instructor. I learned of SlideShare (the online way to share PowerPoint) from a comparative literature grad student. These are the kinds of example I can share with instructors and know that they were really used in the classroom

A final benefit to us and the instructors is that we maintain an archive of completed portfolios. Hopefully future TWT candidates are using these as inspiration, just as I am.

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