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Columbia Community Explores Education and Technology at NME 2013

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Last week was CCNMTL’s 6th biennial New Media in Education Conference, a premier event for the Center that we look forward to every two years as a way to have critical discussions with the Columbia community about the latest developments in education and technology. This year the groundswell of popular interest in educational technology, particularly Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), made the conference seem particularly timely. Over 200 faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, and guests attended, filling conference registration to capacity.

The theme of the NME 2013 was “Bits to Breakthroughs,” a title that refers to how small ideas and changes in pedagogy facilitated by technology and new media can significantly enhance teaching and learning. The day was opened with a welcome from Columbia Provost John H. Coatsworth. Next, Laurie Burruss gave a plenary on how educators can foster student innovationby incorporating questioning, experimentation, observation, association, and sharing into curriculums.

Conference sessions tackled topics like digital humanities, assessment and evaluation, new models of digital publishing, and technology tools for research. Sree Sreenivasan, who was recently appointed Columbia’s first Chief Digital Officer, gave the afternoon plenary on the University’s strategy for online learning, digital media, and social media.

In addition to larger presentation- or panel-centered sessions, the NME 2013 had three breakout sessions to facilitate focused, small-group interactions. In “Breaking Through”, faculty brought a challenge they are currently facing in their teaching and worked with CCNMTL educational technologists to brainstorm solutions. “Technology for Any Teaching Style,” presented by CCNMTL’s Michael Cennamo and Tucker Harding, explored how different kinds of educational technology can enhance an instructor’s effectiveness regardless of teaching style. At the “Leaders Forum” deans and other upper-level administrators from departments across Columbia’s campuses shared their experiences addressing curricular and faculty-development challenges.

“Our conference organizers, led by Courtney Lockemer, CCNMTL’s outreach manager, did a wonderful job of gathering a fabulous set of presenters and panelists,” commented Maurice Matiz, vice executive director at CCNMTL. “The sessions were lively, expansive and informative. Of course, this led to a full house, which helped raise the energy and enthusiasm among the participants. Numerous times I heard attendees torn over which session to attend. The event met all our expectations and more.”

An EdTech Showcase featured tables by NME 2013 sponsors Apple, Mendeley, Echo360, lynda.com, and iClicker, as well as several Columbia organizations that support digital projects in teaching and research.

Videos of conference sessions will be available on CCNMTL’s YouTube channel in mid-February.