With more than 1,500 faculty members at Towson there is bound to be a demand for technology in the classroom. That’s where CIAT, the Center for Instructional Advancement and Technology, steps in. CIAT is a department within OTS dedicated to helping faculty incorporate technology into the classroom, including providing web support and training for new applications. La Tonya Dyer, an instructional designer/trainer, is one of the key players working in CIAT to make this happen.
La Tonya has worked in the technology field at various USM institutions since 2001. While working on her master’s degree she took an elective on instructional design and fell in love with the field, so much so that she cancelled her plans to become a database administrator and decided to pursue a master’s in instructional design instead. In late 2007 La Tonya joined the Towson University community, bringing her skills and passion for instructional design to campus.
In her role at Towson La Tonya has a wide range of responsibilities. La Tonya provides faculty training on different technologies and acts as an instructional design consultant, guiding faculty through the process of improving their courses and integrating technology into the classroom. She also researches new and emerging technologies and often develops pilot programs to test them on campus. In addition to all of this, La Tonya manages the digital media classrooms where faculty can go to record lectures for online or face-to-face classes. She is also responsible for administering and managing Towson’s WebEx accounts which allow faculty and students to attend online meetings with both audio and video as well as PowerPoint and documents.
While La Tonya’s job may seem tech-heavy, in reality it is very much driven by personal interaction. This is part of the reason La Tonya was drawn to the field—she saw it as an opportunity to combine three of her loves: technology, people and education.
“I really enjoy working with faculty members and empowering them with the skills, knowledge and information they need to improve their classes,” La Tonya said.
La Tonya and CIAT strive to ensure that all faculty members are educated on the myriad of ways to use technology in the classroom. This is done using online advertisements, Daily Digest messages, workshops, brochures and events like Towson Spark. Towson Spark provides an opportunity for collaboration among faculty members from different colleges and disciplines. During the event faculty members host five-minute presentations to share how they use technology with their students. While the information and technology is out there, often times La Tonya is faced with the challenge of working with a faculty member who doesn’t have much experience using it.
“I try not to overwhelm them with technology,” La Tonya said. “I tell them that developing these methods didn’t happen overnight and neither will integrating the technology into their lessons.”
That is one of the aspects of her job that La Tonya enjoys the most though: turning skeptics into believers and providing support to faculty innovators. Every day she looks forward to getting new requests and working with clients who have different personalities, backgrounds and knowledge bases.
“Overall, it all boils down to the challenge of interacting with different faculty members and meeting their needs and I often find that I learn just as much from them as they learn from me,” La Tonya said.
For more information on CIAT and the services they offer go to www.towson.edu/CIAT