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How a Professional Practice Professor Uses eLearning to Teach Professionalism

CEAS Assistant Professor Todd Foley found that more active learning solutions in co-op courses facilitate the experience-based learning essential to the field of professional practice.

Date: 1/13/2016
By: Cassie Lipp
Other Contact: Tara Spacy
Other Contact Phone: (513) 558-7584
Todd Foley

Todd Foley had never taught a class of more than 25 students before he began teaching Introduction to Co-op and Mid-Curricular Co-op for Engineering courses at the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science. To get started, he turned to tools from the eLearning backpack project.

Meeting the goals of the co-op courses can be challenging, especially with only one hour of class each week and students with varying levels of experience all in one large lecture room. Foley looked for a way to make the course as personalized as possible for the students.

“How do you create a learning environment that is conducive to all types of learning?” Foley asked. “I use technology to level the playing field.”

Foley said he has made the most use of the Swivl, recording lectures for students to watch outside of class time. This has helped him implement active learning solutions during the times the class meets. After students had watched the week’s lectures at home, they could then work together in smaller groups once they got to class. This allowed students to learn through experience, which is an essential element to a co-op course.

The UC Division of Professional Practice has a hard time not implementing active learning solutions into courses, Foley said. This is because the division is all about experiential learning, so simply telling students what professionalism in their field is would be a hypocritical style of teaching. 

“Active learning is a great way of describing experiential learning outside of the classroom,” Foley said. “Active learning is that experience in the classroom that you can’t get just sitting and listening to someone talk.”

Foley said technology facilitates student collaboration on projects and getting all students and instructors in on a conversation. It also helps keep students engaged throughout lessons, such as Blackboard Discussion Boards, midpoint quizzes in video lectures and course evaluations.

Foley’s toolkit has also allowed him to extend lessons to students with an anytime-anywhere approach. While students may not make use of the information in lessons during the time they are taught, course videos and other technology allows students to easily go back and reference earlier lessons in the course. Foley uploads course videos to YouTube as well, giving students the opportunity to reference the course material after the semester is over.

For example, although students may not be interviewing for co-op positions during the same time period that interviewing lessons are being taught in the co-op course, they can reference the course material later when they do have job interviews.

While technology has helped Foley create a flipped classroom approach for co-op courses, he also said it has the potential to help non-traditional students as well, who may not be able to make it to campus regularly.

Foley won a $250 honorarium from the Provost for his work in demonstrating eLearning excellence. To nominate a faculty member to be an eLearning Champion, Include the instructor’s name, course title and description of their innovative use of Canopy technology in an email to