CN 101: Biology Meets Educational Technology

Kathy Marrs is changing the way the world learns.

        As an Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of biology, Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and Director of the Urban Center for the Advancement of Stem Education (UCASE), Dr. Marrs is quite a busy faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). But one thing she does make time for, specifically during her K101 lectures, is her use of CN.
       Dr. Marrs uses CN as a chance for students to gain bonus points in her class. She has created a course for her biology students that have allowed them to interact online and answer questions to questions she posts from her lectures. After a brief presentation on the basics of creating a CN account, several students approached the CN CyberLab team offering feedback on their experiences so far and wanted more information on how the mobile app worked, as well as how to use the site’s basic functions. The CyberLab’s presentation, given to students last Friday, also offered a brief overview of the IUPUI Conexus, a group network dedicated to the school’s campus that will include updates on campus events, student life, opportunities for students to sell or buy textbooks, and other purposes. The creation of the IUPUI Conexus will allow students to stay active on CN even after their course ends and continue to use it outside of their classroom as a social network, as they would Facebook or Twitter.
      According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Megan O’Neil highlights the importance of non-traditional teaching methods and how online education has not only been proven effective in terms of conceptual understanding and curriculum, but also its cost efficiency as student loan debt factors continue to become obstacles on the road to higher education. A big advocate for furthering education, O’Neil quoted President Barack Obama at a speech at Knox College in Galesburg, IL last Thursday: “We’re testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree, or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earn credits in less time.” CN is one way schools are staying updated on the best ways of receiving a quality education to as many students as possible by staying free and accessible to people across the globe. 

     Dr. Marrs has found her students have really enjoyed using CN to interact with her K101 course in a way that is easy for her to teach and beneficial for their grade in the course. And remember: you can make CN more than just an academic social network at your school or university! Create a conexus that allows students to connect in modern and easy ways that touches on student involvement and campus life. Active users gain so much more as they continue to connect with others around them and eventually with CN members around the world.

     IUPUI is exploring possibilities in the field of educational technology that are being proven effective. What doors has CN opened for you at your school?

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