Education with a Bang

BY ERIN POWERS // DEC. 5, 2011 //

With technology changing faster than ever, it can be hard to keep up. According to many students, one of the biggest hurdles to academic success is not the assignments themselves, but learning the technology needed to bring their work to life.

A new online video training system aims to lower that bar.

This fall, Curry students and faculty were given access to Atomic Learning, an online system available through the Curry portal that offers a plethora of brief video tutorials for various software applications. The system includes tutorials for Blackboard, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, all Adobe design programs, and many, many other programs. Each lesson are three minutes or less and include step-by-step instructions that are helpful to different types of learners. Moreover, it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“I often tell my students that I’m not always available at 3 a.m. to answer technical questions, but Atomic is,” said Heather Shaw, a professor in the Fine Arts department and co-chairman of the faculty Educational Technology Committee, which brought the program to Curry. “The tutorials are short and easy to digest. I also encourage students to pause the tutorials and try to replicate the process, or take notes to remember specific shortcuts or processes they are learning.”

According to Shaw, Atomic Learning is a helpful way for faculty to incorporate more technology into their courses. But the program isn’t just for students; it can be a great tool for professors as well, she said. The college recently upgraded to Microsoft Office 2011 and Atomic Learning provides several tutorials for the program.

Shaw said professors are slowly getting the word out to students. Some of the students who have used the system gave it good reviews. Danielle Freeman, a junior psychology major, for example, said watching just a few short videos on programs like Excel and the new Word helped her create cleaner class projects. In return, she said she earned a better grade.

“The students who do the assigned tutorials are comfortable with the software and that, combined with in-class tutorials, makes the learning ‘stick,’” Shaw said. “I can focus less on teaching software and spend more time guiding students toward developing intellectual and conceptual ideas.”

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