PT Chair Friel Innovates, Wins Coveted Award

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Each year prior to the start of classes, the staff and faculty of NYIT (including both domestic and global campuses) holds their Convocation. The event serves as a kick-off to the new academic year, in which the President makes an address, promotions and new hires are announced and awards are given. On Thursday August 30th staff and faculty alike packed the Riland Auditorium for the event.

Among the anticipated events was the award ceremony in which those nominated by their peers and students are selected by a committee of faculty and staff members, chaired by Associate Provost Spencer Turkel to receive the honors. One of the main awards given on that day was the President’s Technology Award for Excellence in the Teaching and Learning Process for Full-Time Faculty, the winner of the award was Department of Physical Therapy Chairperson Karen Friel in association with professor Veronica Southard.

Friel and Southard were given the award for a project they piloted using a fleet of Apple Ipad 2’s; the devices, preloaded with applications pertaining to physical therapy, were given to students and used to supplement information provided in the classroom. Students expressed their pleasure with how the devices enhanced their ability to retrieve information improving engagement and interaction. The employment of video demonstrations, material sharing, improvement in note taking, and enhanced oversight using Skype or Facetime during their clinical work were all significant contributors to the positive outcome.

In a field where technological advances are more engrained in the landscape than others, this project stood apart in that it dealt with the education process rather than the clinical. That is, in a field heavily predicated on the use of technology to help physical therapist treat patients, that same technology in this instance was being used to teach students how to be physical therapists.           Dr. Friel acknowledged that the goal of her department and this project were to bring those two sides closer together. “This is what is needed in the clinical setting on a daily basis, and so we need to start that type of thinking during the educational years.” she said. Speaking to the positive outcomes and responses from students, Friel attributed that more broadly to an atmosphere in which students not only memorize material but “manipulate, analyze and apply it.”

Creating this atmosphere took tremendous effort on the part of Dr. Friel and Professor Southard. Dr. Friel says she dealt mostly with the “pedagogical design” or the use of the apps for the classroom whereas Professor Southard focused on the “outcomes and ways to measure changes in pedagogy” or the research arm of the project. Together they were able to churn out a product more in tune with the way students are learning today.

That is another reason that this award is warranted, because it can’t work in just any environment. As Dr. Friel puts it “the instructor needs to be totally invested” otherwise students will realize the technology’s ineffectiveness causing it to “sit in the corner and gather dust.”

With help from Professor Southard, Dr. Friel accomplished all of the above and thus earned this year’s award fornExcellence in the Teaching and Learning Process for Full-Time Faculty. In regards to the award she says “It was an honor and a surprise” and that it means a lot because when she started at NYIT fifteen years ago “technological ignorance” would have prevented her from taking on such a project. Since then, through hard work and educating herself, she finds herself here, able to help the students she describes as “not happy with mediocre” and whom “want to be the best”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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