Campus tour: Discovering hidden gems for teaching

11/28/2012

Student poster design for Berkowitz Gallery Student poster design for Berkowitz Gallery

Sometimes we don’t see the resources around us.

That was the message for faculty members during a recent tour of some of the campus’s “hidden gems,” including the Community Involvement and Volunteerism Center (CIViC), Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, Campus Media Services and the Berkowitz Gallery.

“We have resources available to faculty throughout campus that can be used to enhance teaching,” said Tiffany Marra, program director in the Office of the Provost. “We put together this campus tour of hidden gems to encourage faculty to tap into these resources.”

Elizabeth Fomin and Pat Smith are two members of the UM-Dearborn community who already have taken advantage of these gems.

Fomin, CASL online program manager, first discovered Berkowitz Gallery when she taught graphic design courses.

“It’s such a valuable resource to have on campus; it’s a remarkable collection,” she said.

Fomin used the Gallery, which is located in Mardigian Library, to strengthen the learning experience for her students. Her beginning design students took photos and then created posters for exhibits, while advanced students created web animations from digital photos.

“There’s so much cross application possible with an art gallery,” she said. “I can imagine there’s value for faculty members teaching art, literature, history, languages.”

Meanwhile, Smith, professor of social sciences, uses another resource available in Mardigian Library—Campus Media Services. She first learned about some of the tools available through Campus Media Services when she signed on to teach an online economics course.

“My first thought with teaching online was, ‘How can I teach economics without drawing graphs?’” she said.

But Greg Taylor, television engineer senior, trained her to use Camtasia, a product that allows Smith to record narrated PowerPoint presentations, complete with the ability to draw graphs as she teaches.

Now Smith uses Camtasia for her traditional on-campus classes as well, developing short how-to videos that she puts on CTools.

“Students can’t use the videos as a substitute for coming to class,” she said. “But if they’ve forgotten a detail or need a quick refresher, the videos can be helpful.”

Smith’s suggestion for Camtasia is one that could be applied to any of the hidden gems on campus—whether faculty members are looking to help CIViC create a database for the student food pantry or partner with Voice/Vision to learn best practices for research.

“Tailor the product to what you’re comfortable with,” Smith said, “and to what students will latch on to.”