Technology Utilization among Graduate Assistants and Faculty

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Poster presented at the South Alabama Conference on Technology and Leadership on May 13, 2013. Authors: Lindsay Ann Parvin, Ashley Ryals, Dr. Paige Vitulli, and Dr. John Strange
  • 1. Technology Utilization amongGraduate Assistants and FacultyLindsay Ann Parvin, Ashley Ryals, Dr. Paige Vitulli, & Dr. John StrangeCollege of Education
  • 2. Literature Review
  • 3. Changing Face of EducationToday’s students are evolving in that they are able toaccess a wide array of material and are behaviorallydifferent from any other generation. Digital Natives have spent their lives surrounded bythe media of the Digital Age—first it was videogames, then cell phones, and finally Internet access.Such students are said to be “native speakers” ofthose digital languages.The challenge exists for instructors to make materialrelevant and engaging.Source: (Prensky, 2001).
  • 4. Shift in Technology “The modern academic workplace is characterizedby student diversity, new technologies, changingsocietal expectations, a shift in emphasis toward thelearner, expanding faculty work loads, and a newlabor market for faculty,” which indicates a major shiftin higher education. With the incorporation of virtual education intodegree programs, faculty will be expected to usetechnology-mediated teaching and learningstrategies. At many institutions, faculty areencouraged to participate in curricular developmentthat draws on delivery or learning options madeavailable through new technologies.Source: (Austin, 2002).
  • 5. “New” Technologies Web 2.0 encompasses web-based technologies that allow for a“read/write” approach to the web and enables the learner to be botha consumer and producer of content and services, therebyenhancing opportunities for collaboration and the generation of newknowledge (Buchan, 2007). Based on constructivist learning theory—that learning is made moreeffective when it is social, engaged, and relevant (relating tostudents’ concerns); provides formative assessment; and offerslearners multiple paths (Brown, 2007).Characteristics of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0Web 1.0 Web 2.0Publishing ParticipationContent management, presentation Content reappropriation (e.g., “mashups”)Individual, are scale web sites Blogs, wikisDirectories TaggingUsers observe, “listen to” web sites Users add value, co-createControl CooperationExample: Encyclopedia Britannica Example: WikipediaSource: (Brown, 2007. Retrieved from
  • 6. Collaboration among Faculty and GraduateAssistants Research has shown that faculty-graduate student (F-GS) relationships play an important role in shapinggraduate students’ research training, their professionalidentity, and career dedication, in addition to providingsocialization into academe. Mutual support and comprehensive relationships (thoseextending beyond the academic environment) are two ofthe most essential factors contributing to successfulgraduate student mentoring. The roles and responsibilities associated with F-GSrelationships have been documented to be broadlyperceived, as faculty can serve as advisors, instructors,employers, and/or agents of socialization.Source: (Lechuga, 2011).
  • 7. Current Practices Graduate assistants serve as mentors and post-training support to faculty. Attend introductory training sessions on technologycomponents to aid in the mentoring of faculty who alsoreceive training. Graduate assistants serve as mentors to facultythrough a program requiring their participation in atechnology course as a condition of theirassistanceship. Assistants are paired with professors on the basis of theirskills, experience, and schedules and undergo 40 hoursof training to support their mentoring relationship withfaculty members.Source: (Smith & O’Bannon, 1999).
  • 8. Data Collection
  • 9. USA Faculty Case Studies Four professors in the Department of Leadershipand Teacher Education (LTE) were interviewed forthe case studies. Dr. David Gray, Associate Professor Instructional Leadership and Planning Dr. Harold Dodge, Associate Professorand LTE Chairman Instructional Leadership and Planning Dr. Susan Santoli, Associate Professor Social Studies Education Dr. Rebecca Giles, Professor Early Childhood EducationSource: (
  • 10. USA Faculty Case Studies, cnt’d. Two professors remarked that time was an issue in their utilization of technology. One professor reported using social media, mainly for nonacademic purposes. Cited as most promising in the field of higher education, professors listed Macbooks, videostreaming sites (YouTube, TeacherTube, etc.), iPads, and laptops. When seeking help with technology, 3 professors reported going to other faculty and colleaguesfirst. The technology components with which the professors reported seeking the most help fromgraduate students included Sakai and PowerPoint. All 4 professors explained that the current relationship between graduate assistants and facultycould be improved upon. Cited as potential benefits from the relationships between faculty and graduate assistants, theprofessors reported graduate assistants as being more knowledgeable about technology. To be incorporated as part of a mentoring program for graduate assistants, two professors cited atraining experience. As factors and trends considered the driving force in educational technology adoption, theprofessors named greater accessibility, cost, and efficiency. As barriers to university adoption of new technology, the professors listed possible social mediamisuse and cost. Cited as their role in preparing graduate assistants for future career endeavors, the professorsmentioned helping students with research, writing, and networking. To improve upon the current faculty-graduate assistant relationship, the professors suggestedensuring faculty and assistants are abreast of each person’s interests, mentoring assistants withresearch, and making faculty aware of students’ competencies and strengths.
  • 11. USA Graduate Assistant Survey Survey wasdisseminated tograduate students inthe College ofEducation; the 7respondentsrepresent thegraduate programs incounseling andexercise science,with a mean age of27.5 years. Majority werefemales (71.4%)enrolled in graduateschool at USA for 3-4semesters (42.9%)who have beenworking as graduateassistants for 1-2semesters, assignedto 1-2 professors(57.1%).Source: (
  • 12. USA Graduate Assistant Survey, cnt’d. Meeting the demands of the shift in technology has not been seen as difficult. (5participants) There does not exist an established, effective mentoring program between graduateassistants and faculty (4 participants), with shortage of time and guidance beingdeterring factors. Technologies listed as promising in the field of higher education included onlineacademic journals, smart phones, eBooks, tablets, and project management programs(Dropbox, Basecamp, etc.). Technological tools reported in use within the department that are expected to remainin use within five years included SMART boards (interactive white boards), handhelddevices, Dropbox, Sakai (course management software), email, word processingsoftware, presentation software, computers, and printers. Technology components cited as those with which faculty most often seek helpincluded Sakai (course management program), Facetime, Microsoft Office Suite,online academic journal research. Benefits listed as perceived in the relationships between faculty and graduateassistants included more comfort to the difficulties in technical usage, technologyintegration, and sharing of new information. To improve upon the collaboration between faculty and graduate assistants,participants cited additional time/patience, regular meetings, rotating mentorships, andadditional interaction/communication.
  • 13. Discussion
  • 14. Recommendations To more appropriately use Information and Communication Technology (ICT)tools in higher education, such tools must be infused into daily activities forteaching and learning, e.g. as more than for administrative and researchpurposes. Faculty must be helped to see the perceived ease of use and usefulness ofICT tools in their teaching practices, as faculty who are not confident in theirability or competence to handle ICT tools are reluctant to integrate them intotheir teaching practices. Organization support, leadership, effective training, and developmentprograms emerge as factors of faculty willingness to adopt various ICT toolsinto their instruction. Organization support: Administration should support and encouraged the facultyby removing barriers to technology adoption. Leadership: Leaders must think about keeping universities and faculty well-informed and trained in the effective use of technology for educational purposes. Training and development: Involve all stakeholders (including students); extendresources to the continuous process of professional development. Resources: Provide faculty with relevant and current technological tools and bestpractices; instructional design support personnel and timely assistance; andfunding to support faculty adoption of ICT tools.Source: (Keengwe, Kidd, & Kyei-Blankson, 2008).
  • 15. Conclusion There needs to be further research into what otheruniversities are doing to help ease the strain oftoday’s shift in technology. Our current survey for graduate assistants is stillopen, and a survey for faculty adapted from the casestudy questions and graduate assistant survey hasbeen created to study the needs of both professorsand graduate assistants. By opening the surveys to faculty and graduate assistantsat other universities, more definitive ways to help fosterthe collaboration process between faculty and graduateassistants can be developed in the utilization of today’snew technology.
  • 16. Additional Materials Please, take our facultysurvey: Follow our journey on theblog: The iSchool Initiative:Source: ( the QR codes with your smart phone or device to bedirected to the links.
  • 17. References
  • 18.  Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the next generation of faculty: GraduateSchool as Socialization to the academic career. The Journal of HigherEducation, 73 (1). Brown, M. (2007). Mashing up the once and future CMS. Educase Review,42(2). Buchan, J. (2007). Web 2.0: The dawning of the Interaction Age. Retrievedfrom Keengwe, J. Kidd, T., & Kyei-Blankson, L. (2008). Faculty and technology:Implications for faculty training and technology leadership. Journal ofScience and Educational Technology, 18, p. 23-28. doi: 10.1007/s10956-008-9126-2 Lechuga, V. M. (2011). Faculty-graduate student mentoring relationships:Mentors’ perceived roles and responsibilities. Higher Education, 62, p. 757-771. doi: 10.1007/s10734-011-9416-0 Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5). Smith, S. J. & O’Bannon, B. (1999). Faculty members infusing technologyacross teacher education: A mentorship model. Teacher Education andSpecial Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of theCouncil for Exceptional Children, 22(123). doi:10.1177/088840649902200206
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