A new Information Technology initiative called Tech Teams is helping Virginia Tech faculty and students stay on the cutting edge of technology. 

Tech Teams pulls together small groups of people from across the university to rapidly evaluate emerging technology with the potential to transform teaching and learning at the university. Tech Teams is open to anyone at the university interested in the next wave of teaching and learning technologies.

The way it works is simple: interested faculty, staff, or students submit a proposal to evaluate a particular technology, which can be anything from a piece of software, to a broad concept such as “student response systems.” Proposals are evaluated on an ongoing basis. 

When a project is approved, the submitter forms a team of evaluators, and the testing team has a window of time to explore, play, collaborate, and create with the new technology. At the conclusion of the testing phase, the team collects their experiences and opinions into a white paper on the new technology, which is then published on the Tech Teams blog.

The project is administered by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies, under the direction of Executive Director Dale Pike.

Three inaugural Tech Team projects have been completed, They evaluated the following:

  • Beam TelePresence Robots - mobile video conferencing devices mounted on a robotic base, which allows a host complete immersion in a remote location, and the ability to drive around in the environment, interacting with participants. 
  • Google Glass - a lightweight, modular smart device that is worn like a pair of glasses, and can be fitted with prescription lenses. Google Glass lets users take photos or video; view, capture; and respond to information; set calendars and schedules; and can be customized to suit the needs of the user.
  • Lecture Tools – a Web-based learning environment and student response system that increases engagement and participation in the classroom, and gives students study tools for use outside of class.

“The idea for Tech Teams came from our counterparts at Penn State, who found their ‘Hot Teams’ had generated some very positive outcomes, including new university-wide services, sharply increased participation, and better products overall,” said Claire Gilbert, associate director for strategy and analysis within Information Technology. “Bringing these kinds of opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and creativity to Virginia Tech is part of Information Technology’s and specifically [the Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies] mission. We hope anyone who is interested will get involved.”

Faculty, staff, or students who are interested in exploring a new technology; making connections with people from around the institution; and getting their hands on the newest technologies for teaching, learning, and collaboration are encouraged to join the Tech Teams initiative by emailing Claire Gilbert.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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