Tech faculty, students collaborate on international online education project

Two Louisiana Tech University faculty and three students were key collaborators on an international education project to provide online classes to students and teachers around the world. The collaboration involved a massive open online class (MOOC) for teaching visual design to students around the world.

The class was coordinated by the European-based ViLi Project and Tech instructors and students provided different course content including visual aids, interface designs, and video lectures.

MOOCs allow an unlimited number of students to freely access educational materials like readings and videos. They also often let students view real-time online lectures where they can ask questions and participate in discussions. The MOOC in which Tech faculty and students participated was for the class Visual Literacies, and the course covered five aspects of visual design and visual literacy:

  • static images
  • video
  • virtual reality
  • video conferencing
  • online visual identity

The course was taught by two instructors – one in the Greece and the other in the United Kingdom – with individuals from other nations providing materials for or giving real-time video guest lectures on specific topics during different weeks. For the project, Nicholas Bustamante, Gladys Lawson Rogers Endowed Professor and co-founder of Tech’s Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) program, designed a series of images used to introduce course topics. Additionally Bustamante worked with student Jade Noble to create a series of infographics to help users navigate the site and better understand the course structure.

Kirk St.Amant, Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair of Technical Communication, contributed a real-time guest lecture on the topic of “Cognition, Recognition, and Visual Design.” Additionally, Sarah Ilgenfritz, Noble, and Cinthia A. Rincón – three students in Tech’s VISTA program – were selected to create infographics used to teach basic aspects of visual design. The MOOC concluded in November 2018, and the participants are currently discussing other collaborative projects including a co-sponsored colloquium on visual communication and visual literacy that Tech might host in late 2019.

“This project allowed Tech students and faculty to highlight the opportunities the university has to offer to a greater global audience of students, teachers, and researchers,” St.Amant said. “The collaborations have also allowed Tech to enhance its international reputation as an institution of educational excellence where innovative approaches to teaching provide students with unique experiences to apply what they learn in a broader international setting. The benefits of such projects include preparing students to work for international organizations while remaining in and contributing to the local Louisiana economy.”

These projects also allow Louisiana Tech faculty to tap a large, international pool of teachers who can use online media to share their expertise with students and participate in classes – continuing Tech’s trend of being on the cutting edge of providing students with innovative and meaningful educational opportunities found nowhere else.