BY JESSALYN KIRCHHOFF
Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies (TILT) is not only a useful tool for Fort Hays State University faculty, but it is also becoming a learning resource for FHSU students. TILT collaborates with offices across campus to “create and sustain an environment of empowering professional development, skilled confidential consulting, expert instructional design, and specialized educational technology for faculty and students.”
Within the TILT Department, there are a total of 13 employees. In the specific strand of Instructional Technologies, there are two instructional technologists, Magdalene Moy and Nathan Riedel, as well as two Blackboard Support Student Employees, Spencer Wittkorn and Lucas Mader.
Moy, an instructional technologist for TILT, said the objective of TILT is to provide educational insights for faculty, administrators, and students regarding the best practices for teaching and learning.
“Our overall objective is to curate, maintain, and promote our teaching and learning ecosystem, which includes all the educational tools at FHSU, FHSU Online, and our cross-border institutions,” Moy said. “As an Instructional Technologist, I also consult with faculty to help them choose the best ed-tech tool for their teaching context, and I provide synchronous and asynchronous training for these tools.”
TILT uses these tools to assist both faculty and staff, as well as students in their learning. Some examples of these tools are Blackboard, Zoom, YellowDig, Vidgrid, and InScribe.
Currently, in terms of professional development, TILT generally offers workshops and courses for FHSU faculty and staff. Moy says this is something that she would like to see shift in the near future.
One such digital tool that Moy would like to see integrated for FHSU students is FHSU’s Tiger-2-Tiger, an online platform for online student interaction.
“This student-centered forum is available to all of our FHSU students; however, our data on the platform shows that it is primarily used by our online students,” Moy said. “I would love for our on-campus clubs to start to adopt this tool for hybrid meetings, and help bridge our online and on-campus student populations.”
Another way Moy is hoping to reach students with the options TILT can offer is to speak to UNIV101 courses.
“I see this as a way for us to engage with the student population, but also as an opportunity to help students get familiar with Blackboard early in the student experience at FHSU,” she said.
Riedel, a fellow TILT Instructional Technologist said in addition to Moy’s objectives, TILT is focusing on technology that promotes Regular Substantive Interaction (RSI) and Social/Collaborative learning.
“RSI can be thought of as instructors promoting and encouraging students to engage with the content and one another,” Riedel said. “Social/Collaborative learning is when students work with one another to construct knowledge around the content. We have a variety of tools to facilitate both of these initiatives.”
Riedel said the TILT office is happy to help incorporate RSI tools in their classrooms.
“In simplified language, we just try to help faculty achieve their teaching goals, whether that be locating a specific technology or devising a teaching strategy, such as social learning,” he said.
TILT also hopes to incorporate future technologies, such as the quick adoption and roll-out of chatGPT. Although all of these advances and more are beyond useful to TILT, Moy would like to see faculty return to some basic technologies, specifically pencils and paper.
“We often think of digital tools when we think about technologies, but there are many innovative technologies that facilitate learning that are not digital,” Moy said. “That being said, digital technologies allow us to engage with our online students in more meaningful ways.”
Looking forward to the future of technology at FHSU, Mader, an IT student worker within Blackboard Support for TILT, is optimistic that TILT will continue to improve professors’ technological experiences within the classroom.
“I think that instructors will start to become more comfortable with their current technological resources, and will have opportunities to get exposed to new technologies,” Mader said.
Wittkorn, also an IT student worker within Blackboard Support for TILT, said TILT leads the pack within the new technologies that FHSU adopts for use in teaching, and that makes TILT an essential benefit to FHSU.
“FHSU will be a forefront leader in the online learning space due to TILT as we have a deep history of providing varying means of education,” Wittkorn said.
Even though TILT is focused mainly on the bright future in front of them, their basic services will remain up and running. Moy said TILT provides many behind-the-scenes services at Fort Hays State University, explaining that TILT oversees all the edtech tools available at FHSU.
“Our work is sometimes confused with TigerTech, but in general, we troubleshoot issues with any of our edtech tools,” Moy said. “The main service we provide is Blackboard Support and this is available to anyone at FHSU. We are responsible for finding exciting, useful new tools, as well as phasing out outdated, less functional tools.:
Moy said TILT also provides training for FHSU’s learning management system, Blackboard.
Speaking of behind-the-scenes, the student workers are the silent heroes behind the day-to-day operations of TILT.
“I offer general IT services within Blackboard Support which means I help with a lot of smaller issues that can occur within and around Blackboard,” Wittkorn said.
Mader recounts a similar experience to Wittkorn as a day in the life of a student worker who often works between classes.
“We, as a team, provide faculty and students with support for Blackboard and the educational technologies connected to it,” Mader said. “Us, as student workers, respond to chats, emails, phone calls, and tickets.”
According to Riedel, TILT provides a variety of services for both faculty and staff such as assisting faculty with locating and implementing digital learning tools in their courses, as well as help brain storm ideas for using that tool in their classrooms.
“From there, faculty can sign-up to design a course with one of our instructional designers,” he said. “Our instructional design team is incredibly knowledgeable regarding the learning process and can help guide faculty to an engaging design.”
Moy summarizes all that TILT does with one simple statement and is excited for the future of TILT.
“Our role is really to support our faculty so that they can provide the best learning experiences for our FHSU students,” she said. “We can’t wait to expand on the services we will be able to offer to students and what the time ahead holds for TILT.”
TILT offers training events and meetings exclusively for faculty and staff, but they have also created multiple online resources available on their webpage for students and can lend a helping hand if any students are encountering technology issues.
One of these student resources offered is basic technology support. Students can call TILT at 785-628-5275 or contact them by chat on their webpage https://www.fhsu.edu/learningtechnologies/Blackboard/.
Another resource that TILT created and maintains is the TigerLearn blog, which is open to the public and can be accessed by anyone at any time. The link to TigerLearn can be found here: https://tigerlearn.fhsu.edu/ .
Further or additional information on Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies (TILT), Blackboard Support, or TigerLearn, can be found on their webpage linked at https://www.fhsu.edu/learningtechnologies/ .