Digital Learning Days provide faculty with instructional technology tools

Hosted by Teaching and Learning Technologies, Digital Learning Days is a series of summer workshops designed to help faculty grow confidence in their use of various technologies in the classroom.

Elon University is renowned for how its faculty connect with students, with the university ranked No. 1 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report for undergraduate teaching excellence. The university has achieved this status through various innovative and intentional methods to ensure faculty stay at the forefront of teaching the next generation of global citizens.

One of those methods is Digital Learning Days hosted by Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT). The first Digital Learning Day was held in 2020 to help faculty become comfortable with online instruction. Digital Learning Days returned this year with a focus on creating a more comprehensive understanding of technology. Digital Learning Days assist faculty with designing courses, encouraging classroom collaboration, gaining hands-on experience with different technologies and connecting with fellow faculty.

“The most important goal for us for Digital Learning Days was to build a sense of community and confidence among faculty members around technology,” said Dhvani Toprani, an instructional technologist with TLT.

The three-day workshops were offered twice in the summer and faculty were given a $300 stipend for participation. The first two days were virtual with synchronous sessions hosted by TLT and included technology demonstrations. The third day was held at the downtown Maker Hub where faculty worked in groups to complete a crafting project and presented their takeaways from the three days.

The list of technologies the 27 faculty participants gained additional experience with includes Moodle, Zoom and Adobe Creative Cloud, among others.

Several students attended the sessions as the faculty explained their teaching methods and asked the students how they could improve their instruction.

“I think that brought a lot of depth and merit to the experience,” said Kate Moss, an instructional technologist with TLT who lead the workshop.

Toprani, with Senior Instructional Technologist Dan Reis, Instructional Technologist Kendra Nanton and Assistant Director of TLT Scott Hildebrand also led sessions.

TLT’s mission is to provide the “hardware, software, infrastructure, training and consultative support” to the Elon community to use innovative technological tools for student-centered pedagogy. The faculty involved in the Digital Learning Days have expressed just how much the experience has improved their instruction.

The future of education is constantly evolving and as more tools to improve instruction become readily available, Elon faculty are looking to implement those strategies. Adjunct Instructor in Public Health Studies Kimberly Alexander said, “It was great to have a cohort from across the university with diverse perspectives. I appreciate the resources and support Elon provides and will definitely look for more TLT opportunities to enhance my teaching.”