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Teaching with Tegrity

stone

Bethany Stone, assistant professor of biological sciences, records her lectures using Tegrity, a software program that allows her to post the lectures online. She is an award-winning teacher. Photo by Rob Hill

At 8 a.m. on a Friday in December, students in Bethany Stone’s Introduction to Botany class take their seats in the newly renovated lecture auditorium in Tate Hall. Stone admits it’s not an easy time to teach college students, but she has a few technological tricks that help them make the grade — or at least hold their attention.

Stone’s innovative approach to teaching undergraduates has earned her MU’s 2011 Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award. Using tricks from Tegrity to texting, Stone, an assistant professor of biological sciences and also a 2011 Kemper Award winner, sees technology as a way to reach an increasingly wired student body. Tegrity is a program that professors use to record their lectures and accompanying slides to upload to Blackboard for student use. 

“When a student can’t come to class, I prefer they still have access to the material,” she says. Even though ditching may be more tempting, “it’s still the 50 minutes of lecture.” Stone has a student who commutes from Kansas City to class in Columbia, and botany is his only class on Fridays. “It doesn’t make sense for him to come out here for just a lecture.”

Stone still gives exams the old-fashioned way with paper and No. 2 pencils; however, during lectures, students use cellphones to respond to questions via text using free software called Poll Everywhere. Students can ask questions during lectures via text through a different software program.

“Technology changes the pace of the class,” Stone says. “I can switch things up from minute to minute.”

In some of her other classes, Stone practices what she calls “flipping.” Before class, students watch a lecture online and she spends the 50-minute class period doing activities that reinforce the lecture. “I did some research in the genetic diseases class,” Stone says. “After I started flipping the coursework, exam scores went up dramatically.”