Heather Mitchell-Buck, Hood assistant professor of English, has been named an Apple Distinguished Educator for bringing innovative technology and techniques to her classroom.
In spring of 2012 Prof. Mitchell-Buck taught one of Hood’s first iPad pilot courses, Vampires in Folklore, Fiction, and Film, and she has been challenging students to make the most of digital resources and be more active in their learning ever since.
Distinguished educators are education leaders recognized for being innovative with Apple technology in and out of the classroom, through the exploration of new ideas and opportunities, working with each other and with Apple. There are more than 2,000 ADEs worldwide who gather every year at ADE Institutes and education events around the world, as well as online in the ADE community, to collaborate on solutions to the global challenges facing education.
“The most recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers tells us that to be successful, graduating seniors need to be able to make decisions and solve problems, communicate effectively and work well with others, make plans and prioritize and have good technology skills,” Mitchell-Buck said. “The iPad has helped my students be successful in all of these areas.”
Mitchell-Buck has redesigned projects and even entire courses to include more digital and online resources such as e-books, apps, the college’s course management system, blogs and online class projects. She also encourages students to continue discussions outside class time using their devices and social media platforms such as Twitter.
Her students enhance their work and research by creating multimedia projects on their tablets that include images, sound, text and video. “All of my syllabi now include at least two multimedia projects that were much more challenging, if not impossible, before my students had iPads,” she said.
“Many students think of reading books and watching films as passive activities, but the iPad has helped me encourage my students to make their encounters with texts more active,” Mitchell-Buck noted. She has encouraged her students to take advantage of the highlighting and note features in e-book apps that make it easy for students to annotate their readings and join in class discussions.
This year, in her History of the English Language course, students made videos using iMovie to present their Middle English pronunciation. Students in Mitchell-Buck’s Exploring Utopia class created travel brochures and videos to showcase their own versions of Utopia.
Mitchell-Buck said that, although some say that today’s college students are “digital natives,” she believes that good technology skills should be practiced in the classroom. “Using technology well—so that it is an effective and an efficient tool—is a skill,” she said. “Like writing, public speaking or calculus, it’s something that must be taught not just in terms of how to do it but also why it’s important.”