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NSU's Lowenthal uses mobile devices to aid instruction

Dr. Jeff Lowenthal, assistant professor of management at Northeastern State University, is using modern technology to teach entrepreneurial skills to his students.

Through podcasts and the Blackboard Academic Suite used by NSU, Lowenthal's students can access lessons and classwork on mobile devices.

Lowenthal creates assignment instructions by podcasting or posting 3-8 minute video clips. Examples can be viewed by searching "JeffL266" on YouTube. He said his goal is to converge classwork with the technology familiar to many students.

"Students can work within Blackboard and view their assignments and the supporting podcasts," said Lowenthal. "The accessibility makes it easier for the students to learn the material."

Blackboard can be used to allow students to turn in and receive assignments, take online tests, enroll in online courses or view grades. Institutions also use it for on-campus communication, including announcements of events to faculty and staff, employee training videos or documents, information exchange among campus organizations and access to library resources. The software is in use by more than 3,700 educational institutions worldwide.

"I can place additional learning materials on Blackboard for students to access, such as PowerPoint presentations," said Lowenthal.

Lowenthal films his videos on a small "green screen" configuration in his office which allows him to place his likeness over backgrounds of his choosing. He edits his clips in Macintosh applications.

As an entrepreneurship professor Lowenthal teaches his students to recognize good ideas and models in business, and he taught by example by entering the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, an annual business plan competition in Tulsa organized by SpiritBank and Tulsa Community College. His self-funded venture, Convergence Learning Systems, creates learning programs for mobile devices that could be used by universities and businesses.

"I am simply taking some of my modules that I have developed and converting them for the business community," he said. "It is the marketing of these podcasts and the process of producing them that was my entry for the Spirit Award."

Lowenthal and his students have earned a good name in the Spirit Award contest, having entered three of the four years it has been held.

"Either I or one of my student teams has made the final 25 – typically out of over 120 submissions – those three years," he said "My recent submission and 'making the cut' are critical to the school's and my program's reputation. I not only teach the material but also am an active practitioner of the subject matter."

Lowenthal said participation in entrepreneurship hones his abilities as an instructor of the skill, and he noted that he is one of many Northeastern faculty who strive to accumulate off-campus knowledge.

"Here at NSU we don't just teach theory, we provide hands-on experiences to help the student learn and assimilate the content," he said. "And whom better to work with our students than professors who have strong theoretical foundations along with live and current real-world experiences?" 

Published: 8/18/2010 2:03:05 PM

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