William & Mary

3rd Annual Teaching & Technology Expo - Bigger and Better

The third annual Teaching & Technology Expo (aka the Expo) was held last Friday, March 27, in Brinkley Commons in Miller Hall. When the initial Expo kicked-off two years ago, the goal was simple: to aid professors in bringing technology into the classroom to improve learning. After a successful debut, the Expo took the stage again with a bolstered lineup of tables for a second year, and it has become bigger and better in its third year.

Karen Conner of the Mason School of Business leads the planning committee for the Teaching & Technology Expos.Prepping for the Expo

As the Communications Intern with the W&M Information Technology department, I had the opportunity to sit on this year’s planning committee, which was also comprised of representatives from the eLearning Community, the Mason School of Business, Swem Library, and Information Technology.

Starting in December, the committee’s initial agenda consisted of planning the logistics of the Expo. “Since the size of the Expo has increased substantially in previous years, we knew we needed to provide more space for presentation tables and attendees. So we decided to use the entire Brinkley Commons, instead of just two-thirds of the room as we had done in the past,” explains Karen Conner, Associate Director of eLearning, and the lead organizer of the Expo.  "And thanks to an increase in sponsorship, we could provide lunch to all those attending the Expo."  Furthermore, this year there were two (instead of one) grand door prizes, a Lenovo Yoga tablet and iPad Mini, on top of many other smaller door prizes. 

Logistical planning then gave way to content planning. Committee members first identified new and emerging technologies that were being used effectively on campus to highlight at the Expo. Then, they identified faculty and technical staff who were familiar with those technologies and recruited them to present. “We are truly grateful for the willingness of the presenters to share with their collegues how they use technology. That is the heart of the Teaching & Technology Expo, and it couldn’t be done without their participation,” says Conner.

New and notable topics at this year’s Expo included: Sphere 360, Box, Screen Sharing, Design Thinking, COLL 100, Lynda.com, and STEM Education. Presentation briefs along with a list of presentation topics can be found on the eLearning blog site

That's me (right) talking with Donglai Gong from VIMS about the underwater glider he uses for his research. Engaging Presentations

Along with my work with the planning committee, I attended the Expo in order to see the preparation of the committee and presenters in action. Although, being a student, I was not present for either of the previous two Expos, various conversations with presenters played an instrumental role in crafting an image of the Expo’s progress in my mind’s eye.

“This year’s Expo is much more hands-on,” lauded Bob Polley, a representative from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). “The Expo has always had a personal experience to it. This year, it is more so.” VIMS brought a large yellow underwater glider to the 2015 Expo. The glider can swim across oceans while measuring different aspects of the marine environment.

Indeed, I experienced the same personal feel to the Expo for the duration of my experience. While Brinkley Commons saw a steady flow of visitors, the intimate atmosphere never wavered. Multiple presenters accompanied each table, providing ample experts to explain emerging innovations and the application for them in the classroom. Every presenter with whom I spoke was eager to demonstrate the unique technology represented at his or her table.

April Lawrence from IT and the School of Education guides the robot to place the bomb (yarn) into a safe zone (the container).Another hands-on demonstration featured a robot formerly used to dispose of bombs. Gregory Marsh, a W&M STEM Education Alliance Partner, led the robotics presentation.  He created a game for Expo attendees to use the robot’s control panel to grab a “bomb” (which was a ball of yarn) and drop it in a designated safe zone. The robot is currently used to provide robotics training to 8th graders.

See both the VIMS glider and the bomb disposal robot along with various other presentation pictures in the 2015 Teaching & Technology Flickr album

A Bright Future

The Teaching and Technology Expo’s mission is to display technological advancements and how they are applied effectively in the classroom to improve student learning. Speaking with the presenters, I believe that the Expo exceeded that goal. “The reason I come to the Expo really is to just get these ideas that we are working on out there,” Jake Joseph of the School of Education explained to me after a presentation on his use of a 3-D Makerspace printer. “If professors who are not used to this type of technology are able to see how someone else is using it, they have less anxiety about finding their own use for it.”

Joseph shared a perspective that many presenters held. The Expo is designed to broaden the perspectives of the learning community as a whole. It serves as a free marketplace for ideas to be shared in order to create a more modern learning environment inside and outside of the classroom. “Participants on both sides of the table are excited to see where these technology advances may lead,” remarked Conner. “We’re happy to create this type of experience for the pedagogical leaders of our university, and we are excited to see the outcomes it may produce.”

{{youtube:large:left|9RebW6tJSNE, Experience the 2015 Teaching & Technology Expo from start to finish.  The event starts getting underway at about the 4 minute mark.}}