Edtech helps Northern Illinois University mimic face-to-face teaching

Promethean Interactive Display

Published: April 12th, 2021

Senior faculty fellow, Pi-Sui Hsu, has dedicated her career to higher education with a focus on technology integration in science teaching and learning. As an associate professor at Northern Illinois University, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, fellow faculty leveraged her expertise to improve virtual learning.

in 2021, Hsu mentored Eric Monsu Lee, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and helped him integrate teaching classes virtually, using the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment’s (ETRA) Promethean ActivPanel.

“ETRA is known as one of the pioneers on campus,” said Hsu. “When the pandemic came, Dr. Lee approached me and asked for my advice on how he should proceed with his classes.”

“After six weeks, the pandemic starts,” Lee said, “and all I was thinking about at the time was, ‘how do I keep this face-to-face momentum going?’ The first thing I thought about was, ‘Can I do something to mimic the face-to-face teaching?’ ”.

Knowing that his math-heavy classes involve numerous derivations related to the study of statics and dynamics, he wanted a way to teach synchronously while also allowing students to watch him work through the problems. That’s where the large ActivPanel interactive display comes in. The panel allowed him to project images directly from his laptop.

In spring of 2021, Lee continued to teach his courses virtually, he became more comfortable with the technology and saw how it contributed to positive results from his students. Promethean helped him deliver lessons on fluid dynamics, which involve “a lot of math” including ordinary differential equations. It also helped him deliver lessons on three-dimensional aspects of material sciences, something boosted by the technology’s touchscreen feature.

“I’m a person who likes to reach out to the students, even through the online format, because I want to know if they understand what I’m trying to convey in the class. With this Promethean Panel, it really does help,” said Lee.

As Hsu watched Lee thrive with the technology, she was thrilled to bridge a gap across campus and already thinking about how to spread that success through her own department, college, and beyond. She uses the panel to meet with her graduate students as they brainstorm ideas for research projects. Finally, she is ready to teach her own virtual classes with Promethean.

“I think it creates ‘teacher immediacy,’ the term we use in online education: When you are able to sketch or draw an outline, that helps students make sense of the concepts easier,” said Hsu. “I think it helps students build a connection, especially during the pandemic, because many students told me they really are missing the rapport with the instructor.”

Read the full article to learn more about Northern Illinois University’s virtual technology integrations.