The L&S Web and Data staff spotlight is on Kathy Pinkowsky, Instructional Technologist for the College of Letters and Science. Her role includes many of the same responsibilities that fall under UWM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), but her support and services are available exclusively for those in L&S.
Kathy began her work at UWM with the team formerly known as LSITO in October, 2018. She brought extensive experience to UWM in a variety of disciplines that fall under the instructional technology umbrella. Her most recent employment was serving Alverno College for almost 10 years as manager of a department similar to UWM’s CETL. While at Alverno, she was a top-level LMS administrator and technical writer, software trainer, curriculum designer, as well as creator and conductor of many tech workshops and bootcamps. These instructional events helped instructors facilitate learning through hybrid and online classes.
She holds a Masters in Instructional Technology with a particular focus in curriculum design and supporting technology for digital learning environments. She has also continued her education in the areas of usability, accessibility, and information design.
Kathy answered the questions below related to the teaching and learning environment, as well as her vision for using technology in teaching in the College of Letters and Science.
What is something difficult that people in higher education sometimes experience and for which you can offer solutions?
I believe some people are unaware of the technology solutions available to them, and others are aware but unsure about how to use technology to benefit their learning outcomes. Whether an instructor just needs to understand specific technical features in Canvas, or whether they are looking for ways to integrate technology at a higher level, I discuss with them what their learning outcomes are, and we proceed from there. Their need might be something as simple as creating a video lecture with quiz questions integrated into the video, or it might be as large as creating an online course. Either way, the instructor and I work together to develop a successful outcome.
What is something positive that people in Letters and Science enjoy that you would like to build upon?
UWM’s transition to Canvas is going to allow a deeper level of integration of higher ed textbook publishers’ software. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) allows grades and links to Pearson assignments to be passed through from Pearson, for example, to Canvas. This integration and other efficiencies built into the system free up faculty to focus on other aspects of teaching and to spend less time on the administrative tasks. The opportunity for increased attention to learning outcomes and student success provides an environment that will hopefully lead to improved student retention and enhanced student learning.
What do you enjoy about working at UWM?
The collegiality here is wonderful. I see in the L&S instructors a real dedication to teaching and focus on student success. And at every level, the willingness to innovate through technology and curriculum design creates a passion for continual improvement in teaching. That energizes me to see people who I work with have that kind of enthusiasm.
What are the values that drive you?
I want to meet people where they are—different demographics and ability levels. I can work with instructors one-on-one to consult with them and mentor them in the use of technology in teaching. I also create support materials to help reduce anxieties around using technology. And once their tech anxiety is reduced, they are freer to create assignments and teach in a way that can also reduce the anxiety for the students. Once a student’s anxiety is reduced, critical thinking can more easily take place, which will help the student achieve the course objectives.
Using technology, courses and assignments can be taken to new levels, transforming and enhancing the experience for the student and instructor alike. When educational technology is effectively integrated into face to face, hybrid, or online curriculum, the technology should be almost invisible, allowing the learning objectives to become the focus, benefitting both the student and the instructor.
If you want to make an appointment with Kathy or find more information, please visit the Instructional Technology page.