UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 11 | Sep. 5 , 2002

High-tech Teaching Advice: Lose the Overheads

Computer presentations bring lessons alive

By Michelle Cook

Pat Mirenda had no trouble lining up Dustin Hoffman to help her teach a course on autism. All it took to get the actor - who portrayed a man with autism in the movie Rain Man - to speak to her students was a click of her computer mouse.

Hoffman, along with well-known researchers and real-life people with autism will come to class this term in the form of computerized video clips that Mirenda, an associate professor in the Dept. of Educational & Counselling Psychology & Special Education, runs from her laptop. The video clips are part of a high-tech overhaul of a course she once taught using stacks of overhead slides and VHS tapes.

"There is no comparison between teaching with new technology and teaching with overheads," Mirenda says. "Everything I do in class is technology based now. For students it's a better learning experience because I can make things come to life in a way that was impossible with static media."

Mirenda began incorporating technology into her lessons shortly after arriving at UBC's Education faculty in 1996. After seeing a presentation given with PowerPoint, she quickly adopted the software to make better overheads. One day while looking through a colleague's PowerPoint files, her world was rocked.

"She had incorporated video into her presentations, and I said 'wow I'm not using this software to its full potential'," Mirenda recalls.

With help from the colleague, Mary Bryson, Mirenda learned how to import and edit video on her computer. Over the past year she has re-designed all her courses to include animated graphs, video clips, cartoons, sound bites, sound effects and other computer-generated lesson materials.

The high-tech courses make it easier and faster for Mirenda to execute activities, and to present more material in class. It has also freed her students from scribbling lots of lecture notes, and helped to make the concepts she teaches more 'real' for them.

Mirenda thinks the switch to high-tech has made her a better teacher, too. "It takes some of the burden off me. I'm not having to spend my time talking about basic things. The technology does that and then I can go into more depth on different topics," Mirenda says.

One of the challenges of high-tech teaching is gathering all the necessary tools, says Mirenda. She requires equipment such as LCD projectors and latops, a Mac computer, scanner, CD burner and an anaolog-to-digital video editing system.

Another hurdle has been learning to trust the technology. The first year she used PowerPoint, she continued to make overheads as a backup. She remembers her first time teaching without them as "nerve-wracking".

But those days are long gone, says Mirenda.

"My overheads are like artefacts now," she laughs. "I think the bar is being re-set. In the next 10 years, technology will be as de rigueur in class as overheads have been."

- - -  

Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.