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How to teach millennials? Embrace technology

Concordia’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Festival will explore ways to meet the evolving needs of the modern student
January 21, 2015
By Sara DuBreuil

teaching-learning-lisa-lynch-620 Photo by Concordia University

The third annual Teaching and Learning Festival is all about finding new inspiration, new ideas and new ways to incorporate digital learning into the classroom.

“Teaching is like any skill; we need to learn how to do it, practice it, improve it, check in with a mentor that we are on the right track, and then try again,” says Catherine Bolton, vice-provost of Teaching and Learning. “The Teaching and Learning Festival is our on-the-spot training camp.”

The festival, which takes place from January 23 to February 13, will feature a keynote address from Dr. Jonathan White, a professor of surgery at the University of Alberta, along with workshops given by experts from Concordia on a variety of digital-learning topics.

One such expert is Philippe Caignon, the director of the Department of French Studies at Concordia and a 3M National Teaching Fellow. He will be giving a workshop called “Promoting Learning Through Creativity.” Caignon says that digital techniques are not meant to replace traditional learning but should be used to innovate and enrich teaching.

“Digital learning is the means through which professors can enhance their teaching strategies and adapt their pedagogy to the ever-changing needs of their students,” he says.

Adapting to change is something Dr. Nancy Acemian, a professor in the Department of Computer Software and Engineering Department, understands. Her workshop, “First Year Students and Lecture Capture,” will highlight how every generation learns differently and how digital learning allows teachers to design courses suited to today’s technologically savvy students.

“It is a win-win situation,” Acemian says. “Profs have more fun in class, students have more fun and are more engaged with the course content, which is the first step in learning.”

The keynote address

On January 23, White will deliver the festival’s keynote address, “Surgery 101: Finding Fun and Creativity in the Teaching of Surgery.” He’ll talk about his teaching career so far and will explain how professors can use fun, strange and unexpected methods to teach even the most serious subjects. 

An associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Alberta, White has won numerous awards for his innovation and leadership in education. Most recently, he became the first surgeon to be selected as a 3M National Teaching Fellow.

He’s also the founder of the podcast Surgery 101, a series he began in 2008 about basic surgery subjects. The podcasts have been downloaded more than 1.7 million times in 180 countries. Dr. White also runs a YouTube channel for Surgery 101, releasing videos that feature Muppets, Lego pieces and zombies. 

“I think anybody who is interested in teaching, who is interested in communicating, should have their own YouTube channel,” Dr. White says. “They should be making videos. Even if they’re short, crappy videos that nobody watches, they should be engaging with the technology and learning how to use it.”

Concordia’s 2015 Teaching and Learning Festival takes place from Friday, January 23 to Friday, February 13, 2015.

Dr. Jonathan White will speak on January 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in room 620 in the Faubourg Tower (1250 Guy Street).

Register or see the full schedule.


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