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ACM Voices - Spring 2016

In the Spring 2016 issue of ACM Notes

Putting Technology in Service to Pedagogy

Guest columnist: Ed Finn, ACM Liaison for Technology in Teaching and Learning

Ed Finn

Ed Finn

My role as ACM Liaison for Technology in Teaching and Learning is to work with campuses on grant-funded initiatives and campus-specific issues related to instructional technologies, while also identifying and encouraging cross campus collaborations in the area of technology-enabled education.

To do that, I visit each ACM campus regularly and talk to a wide variety of people — deans, faculty, academic staff, technologists, IT professionals, library staff, internal working groups, and, on occasion, students. The diversity of conversations gives me a robust view of the instructional technology landscape on each campus.

While many of my discussions are in person, other avenues of communication are also very useful, so I have a Google site and blog and use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. It is important that the conversation continues after I leave a campus.

No amount of technology can make up for a lack of planning and clear pedagogy.

Early on while pursuing my master’s in adult education, I learned that technology must be in service to pedagogy, not the other way around. No amount of technology can make up for a lack of planning and clear pedagogy.

Understanding the role that technology plays in the transfer of knowledge and the creation of shared meaning is crucial to leveraging the advantages that technology can offer into teaching and learning.

In visiting with faculty and staff across the 14 ACM colleges, I have been struck by the personal investment of faculty and staff in each student. That investment certainly is demonstrated in newly-created learning spaces I’ve seen across the ACM campuses and the use of technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

Coe College’s Learning Commons and the Digital Scholarship Center at St. Olaf College (DiSCO) are good examples of the former. Regarding new and innovative uses of technology in service to pedagogy, I have enjoyed being part of various multi-campus conversations about drone policy, 3D printing technologies, and digital humanities, to name a few.

Check out more examples of innovative collaborative projects in online presentations illustrating innovative uses of technology funded through the Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) grant program and other campus collaborations.

Recently, I have presented to faculty on ACM campuses about the importance of instructional technologists and their role in integrating technology effectively into the classroom. This has expanded to include more customized presentations and online repositories of information.

Finally, I want to highlight a new and exciting project — ICF Online — that has grown out of the very successful Institute on College Futures (ICF). ICF Online will perpetuate the dissemination of content developed for the ICF seminars using adaptive learning technologies and providing resources for campuses to continue the conversation about college finances in the context of their specific institutions.

The ACM has partnered with Acrobatiq, an adaptive learning provider, to enable ACM member colleges to engage in experimentation and exploration of learning platforms that may not be as accessible for an individual institution.

I have long believed that technology can be a powerful tool in creating new ways of learning and shared meaning. It can enable students and faculty to expand their conversations beyond the traditional classroom. I look forward to working with colleagues across the ACM to help shine a light on innovation and collaboration throughout the consortium.

For more information: See Ed Finn's bio and contact him at

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This column was written for the Spring 2016 issue of the ACM Notes newsletter for faculty and administrators.

Copyright 2016