“The most challenging aspect is making sure teachers have the tools they need when teaching.” This was the sentiment of Leslie Bowman, the Alexandria Campus new supervisor of the Instructional, Support, and Development (IS&D) wing of the Learning and Technology Resources Division. Bowman has been an educator for 15 years as both an elementary school library specialist and as a technology specialist. NOVA is her first position in higher education, but it is a natural transition because she is used to working with faculty to train them on emerging technologies.
“I was a Fairfax County public school teacher, so I was familiar with NOVA and the wonderful resources available to our students,” said Bowman. “I’m excited to be part of that. It’s even better than I had heard.”
Having been associated with a local K-12 system has its advantages, as she has personal insight on aligning technologies found in high school classrooms with those found in college classrooms.
“Students in Fairfax County are used to having teachers use SmartBoards, laptops, student response systems (clickers), and BlackBoard,” she said. “I’m looking forward to bringing more multimedia and social networking. I’m also excited for the new WordPress websites that will make it easy for faculty [to design their NOVA webpages].”
WordPress is an open-source webpage and blog design software that allows webpages to be more interactive and user-friendly from a designer’s perspective. It is being deployed throughout the College to improve the quality of faculty webpages.
But in a constantly-evolving information age, one large struggle for those in the technology field is discerning what is a “tool” and what is a “toy.” Bowman is interested in integrating relevant tools into classroom instruction. She is working with faculty to integrate Google Docs, Penultimate (a handwritingrecognition software), and iPads into teaching curricula. She is involved in the faculty iPad learning community. This initiative is a pilot program where participating faculty members are using iPad applications (both free and paid) in the classroom. These faculty members meet regularly with each other to share best practices and to discuss the successfulness of the applications relative to teaching and learning.
“My passion is engaging students and their learning. If it takes a technology tool to do that, let’s use it. The staff at IS&D look forward to working with faculty to support them in their use of instructional technologies that will increase student engagement, support active learning strategies, foster communication and collaboration, and develop students’ skills for their future careers. We want to create lifetime learners. Faculty and staff are students, too. We’re all in this together.”