Plenary Sessions


Opening Plenary Session

Friday, October 6, 2017 | 5:15–6:30 pm

Teaching, Learning, Technology, Memory, and Research—Oh My!

Peter E. Doolittle, director of the School of Education and professor of educational psychology, Virginia Tech

Technology is awesome! Technology is a distraction! If you're not teaching with technology, you're just not teaching! Teaching is a human enterprise in which technology simply gets in the way! That's a lot of exclamation points and the answer is, of course, it depends—technology is neither good nor bad, but using it makes it so (with apologies to Shakespeare). So, how do we leverage technology? Let's break teaching with technology down into a few essential research-based principles of learning, layer on a couple of fundamental considerations of working memory as the crucible of thought, and create usable pedagogical approaches that foster deep and flexible learning. Unfortunately, there is plenty of rhetoric and noise in today’s higher education system; it’s time to move forward proactively in creating instructional environments that focus on student learning and leverage technologies toward that end.

About the Presenter:

  Peter E. DoolittlePeter E. Doolittle

Peter Doolittle is currently the director of the School of Education and professor of educational psychology at Virginia Tech. His academic background includes 30 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate students using traditional, blended, and online formats across several subject areas at various institutions in the US and abroad. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, performed over 100 national and international keynote addresses, and has been awarded in excess of $2 million in external funding. In 2013, Doolittle gave a TED talk at TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland (How Working Memory Makes Sense of the World). His current research focus includes the investigation of the impact of working memory capacity on student learning in multimedia/digital learning environments.


Morning Plenary Session

Saturday, October 7, 2017 | 8:30–9:30 am

The Importance of Critical Thinking in this Post-Truth World

Julie Smith, instructor, Webster University

How do we teach our students to value truth in a world where what we believe is more important than what is true? The democratization of media production makes it possible to create anything online, but do our students recognize material created by the New York Times compared to material created by Joe down the street? Julie will share techniques that she uses in her classes to help students evaluate the authenticity, validity, and importance of online information. Critical thinking has never been more important. Our democracy depends on it.

About the Presenter:

  Julie Smith Julie Smith

Julie Smith has been teaching media literacy courses at Webster University in St. Louis since 2001. She is the author of Master the Media: How Teaching Media Literacy Can Save our Plugged-In World and the host of the Digital Truth podcast series. Julie travels nationally and internationally speaking on media literacy, social media, and classroom engagement.