The University of Wisconsin–Madison routinely ranks high in national and international categories and a lot of that is due to our world class faculty and instructional staff. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks the University at 14th in the nation for Best Undergraduate Teaching. Our instructors spend years becoming experts in their respective fields so they can help prepare the next generation of Badgers to achieve great things. But when it comes to technology, instructors may not always have the time or experience to give their students the tech skills they need to succeed. Fortunately, that’s what Software Training for Students (STS) does best.
Our Custom Technology Workshops help instructors bring technology into their existing courses, on their schedule, at no cost. Whether it’s making a video essay in iMovie, recording a podcast in Audacity or building a class website in WordPress, our student trainers help other students gain real-world tech skills with custom workshops tailored to a specific course.
We asked longtime STS partner Pat Hastings from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication about her experiences with Custom Technology Workshop:
How has your collaboration with STS helped you as an instructor, improved your curriculum or been valuable for your students?
It’s easy to set up a session, the instructors are well trained, and they make the session easy to understand. Even those students who are technology-phobic come through just fine. It also takes the burden off of the instructor when technology changes and a new piece of software is necessary to carry out a class project. In my case, I deal with software all the time and it’s a welcome feeling to know that there is help if I don’t know software as well as I would or could.
What are the biggest technological challenges you face as an instructor?
A big one is that my field [journalism and mass communication] adds and changes technology all of the time. I teach classes that make use of several kinds of software, and when there is an update, or one technology suddenly outshines another, I have to refresh. That’s fine, but the treadmill never slows. Sometimes, software is no longer supported by the university and I have to figure out something else, and that takes time. But when I am in the classroom, students assume I already know it thoroughly. With STS, that’s not a problem.
What surprised you about your work with STS?
The only thing that surprised me (and I am grateful for it) is that my students seem to catch on better with STS. I think that’s not only because the staff are thorough, but there are usually two instructors in a classroom, so when there are questions, we don’t get too far behind. In the past, doing a training by myself was frustrating because when you had to stop and help one person, it would bring the whole class to a screaming halt.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for instructors who may want to bring technology/STS training into their courses?
I would tell instructors to jump in. If a session makes the class better, or gives students additional tools to create good work, then it’s a no brainer. It’s easy. I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t do it. I really appreciate everything STS has done. It’s a fabulous resource that I hope never goes away.
Instructors interested in setting up a Custom Technology Workshop can fill out our Custom Workshop Request Form or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team is also happy to meet with you to brainstorm ways STS could help bring tech skills into your classroom.