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OHIO faculty and staff participate in first initiative of The Interlink Alliance

11 members of the OHIO community will take part in the inaugural conference
Mar 16, 2010
By Colleen Kiphart

The Interlink Alliance, a coalition of eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Ohio University launched in 2008, will hold its inaugural Faculty Development Conference, ?Teaching the Millennial Student: Best Practices in Teaching and Learning,? March 19-20 at Spelman College in Atlanta.

The Interlink Alliance, a consortium of nine colleges and universities, was established to develop and promote faculty and student development, leadership development, research collaboration, faculty and student exchanges, as well as an African-American Male Initiative. Other goals of The Interlink Alliance include student pipeline issues, new teaching strategies, improve infrastructure and raise awareness of issues affecting higher education.

"Our institutions are focused on how to retain, educate, graduate and facilitate the success of our students, including those who continue to be underrepresented despite other efforts," President Roderick J. McDavis said. "To do that, we must provide our faculty with the tools, resources, and professional opportunities to be exceptional teachers and scholars."

In addition to Spelman College and Ohio University, members of The Interlink Alliance are Hampton University in Hampton, Va.; Wilberforce University and Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.; North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C.; South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C.; and Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va.

The alliance?s mission is to recruit, retain, and encourage talented individuals to achieve their full potential for the betterment of community and society.

Ohio University will be well-represented during the conference, with eight faculty and staff members presenting and three others sitting on panels.

Tyrone Carr, director of The Interlink Alliance, coordinated the conference.

?Dr. McDavis and the presidents of the member institutions strongly believe that we can do more together than we can do by ourselves,? he explained. ?This conference offers a great opportunity for faculty and staff at our institutions to learn from one another, network and collaborate on ideas.?

The coalition focuses on the best practices to instruct African-American students so that they can thrive in a college environment. One way to encourage educational growth among students is to better understand the settings where they learn. With that in mind, this year?s conference focuses on various methods of teaching the "millennial student" - a person born between 1977 and 1994.

Joseph Mazer, graduate student in communication studies who will assume an assistant professor position at Clemson University this fall, will be presenting at the conference and agreed that the topic is important to explore.

?Millennials have been labeled the most technologically literate student group in history and their presence in our classrooms has transformed how we go about teaching courses,? he said.

Mazer will be presenting with colleagues Elizabeth Graham, professor of communication studies, and Raymie McKerrow, the Charles E. Zumkehr Professor of Speech Communication. Their work focuses on engaging students through the use of online retailer Amazon?s Kindle e-reader and the popular social networking Web site, Facebook. 

All submitted proposals were peer-reviewed with committee members from each member institution of The Interlink Alliance. Laurie Hatch, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty Commons, represented the university on the committee. This process, according to McKerrow, adds value to the material to be discussed.

?It means that a quality assessment and a sense of a ?good fit,? with respect to the conference agenda, were in place,? he said.

Ohio University faculty will be presenting on topics as varied as the use of video games as a device for academic instruction, to the use of mobile technology in the classroom, and the creation and educational use of virtual worlds.

Mary Lou Malone, computer labs coordinator and director of Technology and Academic Support at the Southern campus, will present on the use of podcasting and utilization of the small Flip video camera in the classroom.

?I wanted a topic on something that I actually do - either in my classes or when assisting faculty with questions and/or new innovative ways to deliver their course content,? Malone said. ?I thought this topic might be useful.?

Usability will be a common theme for the conference, extending even to the keynote speaker, John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and former member of the Spelman College Board of Trustees.

?We wanted to have a prominent keynote speaker whose message would be relevant to our audience,? Carr said. ?We sought Dr. Wilson out, and we?re pleased he was able to attend and speak.?

Due to the emphasis on best practices in education, instructors from across many disciplines have expressed interest in participating in the conference and the objective of The Interlink Alliance.

?It?s a university-wide effort,? said Carr. ?Ohio University?s faculty response shows a commitment to the goals of The Interlink Alliance. The executive vice president and provost and the deans of colleges also have been very supportive of this important initiative.?


Published: Mar 16, 2010 8:27 AM


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