In this critical time of transformation, traditional ways of teaching are in need of innovative strategies in which students feel engaged with their learning, especially in large lecture classrooms. Emergent technologies, such as student response systems and Facebook groups, offer unique opportunities for educators to facilitate learning so that their students contribute to their own knowledge acquisition. In this talk Dr. Johnell Bentz will share her experiences of redesigning a large lecture course to a blended model of education. Dr. Bentz believes that her definition of “blended” means taking the salient and successful features of a face-to-face and an online class and marrying them together for a robust, and dynamic learning experience. During her talk, Dr. Bentz will outline the process that is needed to design such an experiences, the benefits of a blended environment, and the challenges she faced including how traditional policies may create barriers to new ideas. Dr. Bentz will be joined by the College’s Learning Technologies staff who will help demonstrate the use of student response systems and other resources that can provide instructors with frequent and formative feedback while making a learning experience meaningful to the students.
Dr. Bentz is a faculty member in the Department of Special Education. She earned her PhD from Vanderbilt University in 1993. Her teaching and mentoring activities have ranged from undergraduate and graduate instruction in small seminars of 10-15 students to large lecture courses with more than 300 students. She has worked with preservice teachers in the special and elementary education programs, practicing special educators, and undergraduate students from across campus. Dr. Bentz also teaches classes in the Diversity and Equity online master’s program through the College of Education. Over the years Dr. Bentz has focused on enhancing her instruction through the use of instructional technology. As new technologies are introduced in the College of Education, she is among the first to investigate their application to her work. She has high expectations regarding the use of technology and finds that students rise to the challenge. Dr. Bentz serves as the electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) coordinator for the LBS-I (Learning Behavior Specialist-I) program, supporting students in the development and completion of their ePortfolios. Dr. Bentz teaches SPED 117: Culture of Disabilities, teaching nearly 1700 students over the last 18 years. This course focuses on teaching the value of persons with disabilities. She was awarded a grant from the Illinois Teaching Advancement Board in 2011 to convert SPED 117 from a typical face-to-face lecture course into a Blended Learning class that combines face-to-face and online resources. A major direction for her research ties closely with her teaching interests, the implementation or utilization of technology across various situations. Her research has included investigating the use of a computer-based, progress-monitoring tools to measure learning among migrant education students; the use of digital video teaching examples in university courses; utilizing videoconferencing as a method of supervising student teachers from a distance; and providing professional development for practicing teachers and implementing and evaluating that technology at the university level with College of Education preservice teachers.