Technology: Renewing It And Using It

IN THE 21ST CENTURY, teaching and learning are intimately connected with information technology, which arguably has developed more rapidly than any other phenomenon in human history. Keeping up with developments and staying current with teaching and learning strategies are never-ending and expensive processes, since equipment and software become outdated every two or three years. This frequent renewal requires, in turn, ongoing training of faculty and students in the use of technology, a difficult enterprise when decisions about what to use and what to discard become more complicated each day. To keep pace with the growth and renewal in information technology as well as its attendant training needs, the College plans to endow a hardware and software replacement fund and a technology assistantship fund.

Professor Kevin Dunn draws liquid nitrogen to cool the magnetic resonance spectrometer.

THE CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT has been using the latest technology for as long as it has existed; Dr. Kevin M. Dunn continues this tradition in his ironically titled introductory chemistry course, "Caveman Chemistry." The course has its own website, containing the textbook, syllabus, links, and a discussion forum which, with nearly 3,000 submissions, has become a vital tool for teaching his class. "Many of the posts," he says, "are from former students, so current students can see what gave those earlier students problems and how they overcame those problems. Students can interact 24 hours a day. It doesn't matter if the building is locked or it's the middle of the night." Dunn is genuinely surprised how much he and the students use the on-line forum. "Before the Internet," he says, "I never imagined a forum would be important."

Giving Opportunities For
Faculty Enrichment

Technology Replacement Fund $1,500,000
Technology Assistants Fund $2,000,000
E-mail Lee King, Vice-President of Institutional Advancement for more information.

He and the other members of the department also use a computer-aided projector in the classrooms to show complex images. "We used to use tinker-toy-like tools to model molecules. Now we can quickly create them on the computer, turn them around, and get details about what we are seeing."

These computers and the software on them quickly become obsolete. "You have about four years before students look at a piece of technology like it's a dinosaur," Dunn says. "Students now are incredibly savvy. They can't remember a time when you could not surf the Internet."

Though students expect technology in the classroom, Dunn does not want it to overshadow what he is teaching. "I didn't put a forum on my website just to have a forum," he says; "I put it there because it helps the students learn about something real-something they can hold and smell-and it lets me teach at a higher level."