Technology Integration: Faculty Spotlight
Dr. Sherry Truffin
Associate Professor of English
Director of Honors Program
“In his classic book on how new ideas spread via different media over time, Diffusion of Innovation, Journalism and Communication scholar Everett Rogers identified 5 segments of technology adoption: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Like most people, I am in the middle groups: not strongly averse to change, but not the first to invest time in learning a new technology. I keep myself very busy with lots of initiatives and projects, and I can be impatient with my own learning curve. I must be convinced that a new technology is worth my time and energy before I try it.
Having said this, I find a wide range of technologies valuable in my work. For example, I use Turnitin.com not only to check student work for plagiarism, but also to grade papers electronically. In addition to typing comments into the paper and using electronic rubrics, I record voice comments of up to 3 minutes on each paper. I want to connect with my students as people, and I feel that voice comments make the feedback more accessible and personal.
In class, I sometimes use a free ‘Poll Everywhere’ account to create and administer anonymous surveys. Students can participate in these surveys using their smart phones, and results appear on the screen in the front of the classroom. These polls can serve as great ice-breakers and discussion starters, and they can also give me feedback on what students do and do not understand. Students like the polls because anonymity affords them some safety and freedom. On very rare occasions, students have written odd or inappropriate responses to open-ended poll questions, but for the most part, the surveys improve student engagement, encourage meaningful reflection, and provide useful information.
I also believe that I should adopt new technologies as a way of modeling ‘lifelong learning’ for my students. I often find myself recommending to advisees in the English department that they pursue minors or develop skills that complement their liberal arts training and enhance their marketability for a wide range of careers. For example, I suggest that they take a minor in a Business field or in one of the Sciences. Along this line, I also suggest that they get comfortable with different technologies like WordPress. Having made this recommendation multiple times, I decided to create a WordPress site myself to find out how difficult or easy it was. I don’t update my site very often or write many blog posts, but I do upload course syllabi, provide useful links, and share information about myself on the site. I feel more comfortable recommending to students that they learn WordPress now that I have done so myself.
In the future, I plan to do more in my classes with software that encourages collaboration, like Blackboard and Google Docs. Right now, I use Blackboard primarily as a depository for handouts, links, etc., but I know that it can do more.”- Dr. Sherry R. Truffin