From its inception, the University of South Carolina Upstate has been committed to creating an environment for student success. Essential to this effort has been the resolve of faculty and staff to ensuring that every step is taken to provide the necessary avenues by which students could learn.
In 2012, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) became one such avenue. “Preparing Students for a Future with Technology” was identified as the focus and included three strategies to involve students in higher levels of engagement with technology, including specially redesigned Technology Intensive (TI) courses:
- Faculty Development: STEP-UP Faculty Development Institute
- Development of Technology Intensive Courses
- Creating a Technology Fluent Campus
For two years now, faculty members from various disciplines have participated in QEP’s Student Technology Enrichment Program (STEP-UP). Currently, 35 are involved in the program with an overall objective of enhancing their respective courses as “technology intensive.”
Their innovative approaches are the drivers of the project and designed to elevate students’ basic technology skills beyond technical expertise to strengthen cognitive skills grounded in threshold concepts central to discipline-specific use of technology.
“The world we live in is now motivated and driven heavily by digital communication and the perpetuation of digital products,” said Tasha Thomas, senior English instructor and Spartanburg Writing Project director. “I feel it is our responsibility in training students for jobs of the future to give them as much experience as possible with these formats, so with QEP, I have integrated a variety of technology tools that enhance the teaching of reading, research and writing.”
Of course, while utilizing technology to learn and share knowledge is an avenue that should be explored, Thomas is equally passionate about maintaining focus on basic skills with regard to critical thinking, information literacy and written communication.
“I want my students to be good digital citizens, to feel comfortable troubleshooting…and to easily adjust to changing standards and expectations in the workplace,” said Thomas. “My hope is that both the traditional literacy skills I pass on, as well as the new literacies I share through technology will enable them to accomplish all this and more.”
The QEP, a significant component of the University’s SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) reaccreditation process, continues to demonstrate the value of defining digital literacy to enrich students’ engagement with technology.
For more information about QEP, visit www.uscupstate.edu/qep.
Story by Meg Hunt, photos by Les Duggins.