Digital Learning in the Classroom

February 1, 2019

More and more faculty are looking to embrace technology in their classes to create authentic, rigorous, and relevant learning experiences that prepare students to work in 21st century congregations and communities. In the fall semester, the Office of Digital Learning partnered with various faculty members, including Heath Carter, Nancy Duff, and Erin Raffety to support them in utilizing technology and creating digital assignments for their classes. 

Staff from the ODL visited these classes to share ideas and explain the technology and support available in the Digital Learning Lab (the creative and collaborative workspace on the third floor of the library). For example, Lindsey Trozzo and Kelsey Lambright visited Dr. Carter’s Social Christianity class to explain the final assignment. With support from their student team, they developed a clickable menu of digital assignment options that Dr. Carter said was phenomenal (here is an example of a similar menu used in one of Dr. Duff’s classes). “It definitely exceeded my expectations in terms of the level of help and support for what we were doing.” He added, “The thing I know when I assign these kinds of things is that students will always amaze you.” Some students from his course, for example, searched the library archives and found songs from the US Labor Movement (1846-1927), reproduced them, and developed a website to share the music and their academic research (check it out here!). 

Faculty and students reported that working with the Office of Digital Learning and the Digital Learning Lab was a positive experience that contributed to their teaching and learning. As for student learning, faculty that received ODL support felt that digital assignments achieved the level of rigor expected from a PTS final assignment and even exceeded expectations. Dr. Raffety spoke of four students who together created a podcast on immigrant churches in America. She said that because they were able to use technology “they had more confidence, and it definitely brought a higher level of creativity to the project. She said that her students doing digital assignments (like the whiteboard sketch video heremet the same learning objectives as those who wrote traditional papers. The creative medium allowed them to integrate what they had learned through the course material and apply it. 

For faculty who would like to try out a digital assignment but fear they aren’t knowledgeable enough or worry it would add to their workload, Carter plainly stated‘‘No, it wasn’t more work for me.” Raffety also said, I didn’t have to do anything with technology; the ODL did most of the work, but it’s enticing me to want to learn more.  

If you’d like to hear more about getting support from the Office of Digital Learning in creating authentic, engaging, and rigorous assignments please email learning@ptsem.edu. 

Anna Stamborski, MATS class of 2021