Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

October 31, 2014

A classroom veteran tackling new technology

Professor of Philosophy, Lynn Hankinson Nelson, shares how she transitioned to a hybrid-online class set-up

“I encourage collagues to take a workshop. When I go, I learn, I get refreshed, I get invigorated.” Lynn Hankinson Nelson Professor, Philosophy

“I encourage colleagues to take a workshop. When I go, I learn, I get refreshed, I get invigorated.”

Lynn Hankinson Nelson
Professor, Philosophy


There’s a learning curve in setting up a hybrid course, says Lynn Hankinson Nelson, “especially for those of us my age, with 35 years of teaching experience. But the support is wonderful.” Nelson, who was a Teaching with Technology Fellow in summer 2013, credits the staff at the Center for Teaching and Learning, UW Information Technology, and UW Educational Outreach (UWEO), with helping her set up her first hybrid and online courses. “The UWEO Instructional Designer, Maggi Kramm, walks on water, as far as I’m concerned,” says Nelson. Here are Nelson’s suggestions for adding technology to teaching:

When creating a video, imagine you’re facing a class, not a camera: Nelson was nervous at the thought of filming a dozen videos for an upcoming UWEO online course. “I’m really camera shy,” she says. However, she says the process was easier than she’d feared, because Kramm and the UWEO videographer were so helpful and professional, telling her they could re-record any portion of a lecture and setting lights at a comfortable level. “What happened finally, with that kind of encouragement and the knowledge that I could do any lecture over, I just forgot I was speaking to a camera,” says Nelson. “I just made believe I was standing in front of 200 students, which doesn’t frighten me at all, and the muse took over.”

Take advantage of the Active Learning Classrooms in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library: The round tables facilitate discussion, says Nelson. So do the computer screens at each table. At the beginning of class, which Nelson opens with a mini-lecture, she sends her presentation to the screens at the tables. When the class breaks for small group discussion, “the recorder for each group can link his or her laptop to the screen and take notes that are visible to the whole table so the students can edit together. When the time comes to report out, I can send the presentation from each group to all the tables,” says Nelson, adding that groups can also choose to write their report on one of the room’s orange glass walls, which function as white boards. “There’s also a microphone at each table, which can be important for students who have softer voices.”

Philosophy of Science Spring 2014 C


“The Active Learning Classrooms are just fabulous,” says Lynn Hankinson Nelson, meeting in an ALC with students in her hybrid class, Philosophy of Science (PHIL 460). “The flexibility is great. I can roll my chair from one group to another, or I can say, ‘Roll to the middle of the room, we’re all going to work on something together.’” The course meets officially once a week and a subgroup of students also meets in the room informally for additional in-person discussions.

Learn More

Read the full Provost report on how to use technology in the classroom to engage students.