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Lynn hires two new staffers to enhance its digital curriculum for all styles of learners
Published Sep. 25, 2013
Lynn University has brought on two new instructional designers to increase the interactivity and consistency of its curriculum for its online classes and courses that will be part of the school’s unique iPad initiative—the goal being to ensure digital learning at Lynn is a fully realized, multisensory experience for students.
Laurenne McAteer and Victoria Holcomb joined Lynn this September. McAteer has been an instructional designer and technical writer for more than 25 years in for-profit industries and the United States Air Force. Holcomb has 13 years of experience in higher education focusing on instructional design and instructional technology.
“We’re so happy to be here. Lynn University is a small university with big ideas,” McAteer said. “The work the school is doing in integrating technology into the learning process and focusing on student-centric instruction is amazing and we are excited about helping in this process.”
McAteer and Holcomb will focus on adding new levels of interactivity to Lynn’s nationally praised curriculum while also ensuring the redeveloped content has a consistent look and feel and abides by Lynn’s brand and industry best practices. They will work on two different but equally important areas, Lynn’s online class offerings (especially graduate and MBA classes) and in-class (brick and mortar) course work, much of it integrating with Lynn’s unique iPad initiative.
They will be adding hands-on interactivity to all online courses using tools such as Adobe Captivate and Raptivity to enhance the learning experience. All their work will be done with an eye to ensuring the redeveloped materials are optimized for the iPad. Their enhancements will include both audio and visual elements so the course work will appeal to different styles of learners, whether visual or audio oriented.
“Studies have shown that comprehension increases when you involve multiple senses,” McAteer said. “We’re working to make learning at Lynn a multisensory experience for our students.”
For example, McAteer and Holcomb discussed how they can make a static graphic of a sales funnel come alive for a student taking business. Instead of just looking at an image of the classic concept, they will be able to drag their fingers (on an iPad) or mouse (on a PC) over the object to see and hear how the levels change as you go down the funnel to get a hands-on understanding of the process and importance of the different funnel levels.
As part of the effort to ensure materials are more consistent and follow best practices, McAteer and Holcomb are meeting with individual faculty members to develop tools, answer questions, build assignments and build course structures. Their process starts with putting together guidelines for structure, starting with good internal branding practices and consistency. For example, in Blackboard, one of Lynn’s digital learning interface tools, the menu items should be in a standard order, something they are working on now.
The enhanced interaction they are creating will help online classes come alive and help keep the course as interactive as possible even if an instructor is not in the room with the student. It will also take full advantage of the unique capabilities of the hundreds of iPads in the hands of Lynn’s freshman class—the largest in 6 years—to provide a level of engagement with course material rarely seen in higher education.
Moving to tablet-based learning
“The iPad initiative is a huge step for Lynn and has set a high standard for others to follow,” Holcomb said. “The work we do here will further integrate student learning into the tablet environment through interactivity to enhance the quality content that has already been developed by faculty.”
The team points out that they don’t need to redesign course content per se for the iPad since the core content the student must learn will stay the same. They are focused on increasing the ability of the student to interact both visually and audibly and to take advantage of the 24/7 portable access to the curriculum and research capabilities—ensuring the devices are properly used to enhance the student’s experience.
As they point out, much of the freshman-level content has already been redeveloped by faculty for the express purpose of use in the Apple iTunes U environment and through apps available on the iPad. They will be fine-tuning this work since much of it was done by faculty members working somewhat independently of each other which created minor variations in style and structure that they will make more consistent across the curriculum.
The team sees Lynn as one of the industry leaders in moving toward the “Constructivist” model of higher education instruction—essentially a student-centric model that puts the curriculum in the students' hands to learn in the way that works for them, and the professor’s leadership role moves from disseminating facts and figures to someone who consults with the students as they make their way through class materials.
“Lynn is ahead of the general shift to student-centered learning in higher education,” Holcomb said. “It’s becoming a trend that more institutions are integrating into their approaches to education.”