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Online Mountaineer: Inside the Online Classroom

What technology will I use in the WVU Online classroom?

September 30, 2021

Angie Milliren at her desk, working on her laptop.

It is vital for today’s students, whether studying online or not, to be able to use various kinds of technology to communicate with others.

As a matter of fact, as a WVU Online student, you will constantly be learning new technology, because it is necessary to engage with your instructor and your peers during class discussions and to complete assignments.

You will find that some of the coursework is “synchronous” learning – that which takes place at a scheduled time – and some is “asynchronous,” which allows you to access course materials, ask questions, and complete your work at any time that works best for you.

Most of your courses will be a mixture of both synchronous and asynchronous, but with both types of learning you will constantly be interacting with your professor and other classmates.

“I was not expecting this level of interaction, yet each course offered opportunities to engage with my peers through assignments over a variety of platforms,” says Kristen Blum, who was in WVU Online’s Literacy Education program. “There was a perfect mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

“In addition, the faculty do an amazing job of cultivating a supportive learning environment, utilizing technology effectively to engage students and to create challenging learning opportunities."

“This has prepared me to be a better teacher and I have now developed a ‘teacher toolbox’ that allows me to more effectively incorporate different aspects of technology into my own instruction and lesson development.”

“At WVU, I felt wonderfully ‘at home’ in an environment where people shared in my passion for technology.” - Angie Berna Milliren, Instructional Design and Technology

Likewise, student Allyson Varlas Whorton, also in Literacy Education, says that every course she has taken has had some sort of video chat, discussion board or collaboration.

“I am not camera-shy anymore,” she says. “Since I have had to chat with others and post recordings of myself, it is second nature to me now. I easily communicate my thoughts through discussion boards and emails. I also quickly understand and use new and unfamiliar technologies.”

Our students point out that one of the great things about taking WVU Online classes is that many sessions are recorded to watch and play back later, for deeper understanding.

Malori Meyer, a student in the Business Data Analytics M.S. program, says that, for her, this is a better way of learning. “If I was face-to-face in a class and taking notes, I wouldn’t absorb nearly as much of the material."

“In other words, the course material is easier, because you can re-watch the lessons.”

Do you think you will miss interacting with your classmates face-to-face? Think again! Our WVU Online students say this is not a problem for them.

“Of course, I enjoy socializing with people and not having interpersonal connection with my classmates was a challenge at first,” says Kimberly Locy, who studied Instructional Technology and Design. “But I soon realized that technology can be used to have those same conversations and interactions."

“It is important to realize that we live in a world that is quickly transitioning to virtual formats. Having courses that encourage students to interact via video conferencing and chat forums is the perfect preparation for our future workforce.”

Moreover, Kimberly says she enjoyed hearing from other students and the instructor in the weekly discussion boards.

“Class participation seemed more detailed in an online format, as compared to in-person. I also enjoyed group projects via Zoom.”

So, as a WVU Online student, what technology will you be using in your classes?

You will find that many of the programs are instructional tools that are part of WVU’s eCampus delivery system, while others are tools that faculty have selected to provide additional functionality for their courses.

The following are some of the technology tools you will use in your courses, as discussed by some of our WVU Online faculty:

Amy Root | Child Development and Family Studies

“In online classes, I try to mix the content with video (e.g., TED Talks), audio correspondence, and written correspondence. More recently, we're looking into ways to incorporate virtual assessments of children and virtual visits of facilities that support children and families (e.g., child-care facilities).”

Allison Dagen | Literacy Education

“I use a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools embedded in eCampus. For instance, my favorite is probably VoiceThread. Whether a content lecture, musings of some general feedback themes on an assignment or just a weekly overview, it is simple to use, engaging and the online students have reported feeling connected. Additionally, I advise students to use VT lectures in a mobile way - grab some headphones, walk, commute don't have to "see" the VT to learn from it.”

Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova | Software Engineering

Katerina in front of the Mountainlair.

“I use Blackboard Collaborate for live classes and synchronous interactions, pre-recorded lectures and discussion boards for asynchronous learning and interactions, and VoiceThread for interactive student presentations. My students also use tools and programming languages that support data analytics, such as Weka, Python, and R.”

Kristin Moilanen | Child Development and Family Studies

“My classes are mostly asynchronous, so I tend to use technologies that work well when students complete each unit of the course according to their own schedules. I’ve made lots of videos for my courses, but mainly use class discussion boards and individual assignments. I use Blackboard Collaborate for one-on-one meetings and to livestream my face-to-face courses on occasion. I also use it to bring distant guest lecturers “to class” from thousands of miles away.”

Michael Walsh | Business and Economics: Marketing

Michael Walsh posing with a bicycle.

“I have used a variety of applications to support students learning, including video (live and recorded) and live chat, as well as computer-based learning and simulations.”

Suzanne Kitchen | Business and Economics: General Business

“In my online classes, we utilize many different tools, including personal e-journals for self-reflection, self-correcting quizzes, intricate discussion boards for debates and conversations, and Blackboard Collaborate for group presentations.”

Ugur Kale | Instructional Design and Technology

“Wordpress, eCampus, Scratch programming, PowerPoint, MS applications, Google products, and Final Cut Pro.”

Ajay Aluri | Business and Economics: Hospitality and Tourism Management

Ajay speaking in front of an audience.

“My students and I have used, developed, and tested emerging technologies and applications such as smart mobile apps, augmented reality, Internet of Things (IoTs), robotics, and virtual reality. Apart from using these technologies, we integrate real-life data and use social media applications in our classes to help real-life businesses. The WVU Hospitality Innovation and Technology (HIT) Lab is a platform for both industry and academia to come together to solve the problems of the hospitality and tourism industry.”

William Beasley | Instructional Design and Technology

“Computers, hand-held devices, synchronous video, asynchronous online delivery, social media – I use pretty much whatever is available at any given time. I began using Perusall recently to allow students to annotate some of our class readings as a group before we discussed them in Zoom, and I’ve been really pleased with the way this encourages dialogue and tends to improve the quality of our synchronous discussions.”

Aimee Morewood | Literacy Education

“I have used a variety of technology in my courses. I often joke with my students about how I am always trying new technology tools in my classes. For example, I have used a variety of eCampus tools (both current ones and some that are no longer available). I have also use tools in the Google suite, Zoom, GoToTraining, Voxer, Epic!, Storylineonline, Flipgrid, Seesaw, and ClassDojo. I find the tools that support my students’ learning. Using different technology tools helps me to guide student learning so that they are able to be successful at meeting the course learning objectives.”

Ashley Martucci | Child Development and Family Studies

“VoiceThread has been a great tool for us. Pre-service teachers now video their teaching, upload it in VoiceThread and then I can provide on-the-spot feedback. After that, when we conduct our post-conference, we can watch the portion of the lesson that they (or I) want to review. It allows for a higher level of reflection than trying to recall what happened in a lesson.”

Brad Price | Business Data Analytics

Brad Price in a classroom.

“We can't discuss analytics, data science, machine learning, and all of the interesting stuff we work on if we don't utilize the technology. First, we engage with all the amazing tools we have available to facilitate online learning at WVU. Then we use more field-specific technology. In my statistics classes, students learn to program in R, and some Python. In addition, students learn technologies that allow them to deal with massive data sets that organizations have, such as Spark. And, as real-time data processing becomes a reality, we add things such as Kafka which allows us to deploy machine learning models so decision makers can have insights as their data evolves.”


In conclusion, our WVU Online faculty say that the most important thing is that the technology they use in their courses makes their teaching more effective.

“We need to realize that online learning doesn’t mean less engagement,” Michael Walsh says. “Online courses allow for a variety of materials that can provide more voices and more resources to explain concepts as fully as possible.”

Ugur Kale says he advocates meaningful as opposed to frequent use of technologies.

“The goal is not to use the technology for the sake of using it, but to find meaningful ways to incorporate it in our practices. I believe technologies should be used to help us teach in ways that are more effective and to help students learn the content better.”

Suzanne Kitchen taking a selfie in her classroom.

Similarly, Suzanne Kitchen believes technology helps her to remove barriers to learning and to create a psychologically safe learning environment for students.

“I have found that technology can make the learning process for students a simple and natural process, as opposed to a process filled with anxiety or self-doubt.”


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