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February 19, 2024

Faculty Spotlight: Education Professors Dr. Katie Heath and Maryanne Barrett Interviewed by RBJ on Teaching Technical Skills

Higher education turns to teaching technical skills, preparing students for the workplace

By Carrie Putnam

While educating today and tomorrow’s teachers, Roberts Wesleyan University elevates technology in intentional ways at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Maryanne Barrett headshot.

Barrett

“We want our students to make the most of technology, but also develop a critical lens,” said Maryanne Barrett, assistant professor of education at Roberts Wesleyan. “There’s so much happening and changing in the ways we communicate. And while it’s all really exciting, digital tools don’t replace good pedagogy.”

It’s also a focus at Roberts Wesleyan that technology is used in ethical, inclusive and accessible ways — something that was not always the case nationally during the COVID-19 pandemic when there was an emergency rush to technology in education.

Katie Heath headshot.

Heath

“In the end education really wasn’t accessible for all,” said Katie Heath, Ph.D., associate professor of education and director, of the Pathway to Teaching Program at Roberts Wesleyan. “We saw so many students with disabilities being left out of it and not receiving their accommodations or modifications or any related services that they needed.”

Heath uses technology to help improve accessibility and apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning — a teaching approach that strives to accommodate the needs and abilities of all learners. She also encourages her adjuncts in the Pathway to Teaching Program to use Google Classroom as a learning management system because there’s a strong chance students will use it in the field.

One of the many ways Barrett uses technology with her graduate teaching students is by focusing on different ways to communicate, such as through multi-modal writing.

“Some of the technology tools we use are Book Creator, Canva, and Adobe Express,” Barrett said. “Research is showing that multi-modal writing is a great way to support all diverse learners not only through engagement and motivation but by bridging what the students are bringing into the classroom to their academic writing.”

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