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Education professor receives accolades for innovative technology use

March 19, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. — Eighty percent of video game playing is failure — but you always get a second chance.

Tara Kingsley in a classroom

Applying that theory to her classroom has increased student engagement and success in Tara Kingsley’s Indiana University Kokomo courses — and earned her recognition for her teaching.

Kingsley, assistant professor of education, will be commended during IU’s annual Celebration of Distinguished Teaching, receiving the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Technology.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Kingsley, who teaches reading methods to future elementary educators. “It means I’m being acknowledged for being on the right path in this area. It has been a team effort. My campus has been supportive, my students have been receptive, and it allows me to build on my passion for teaching with technology in the classroom.”

Leah Nellis, dean of the School of Education, said Kingsley’s approach to teaching and student learning models high-impact instructional practices.

“Tara shares her own passion for both her content and the profession of teaching with her students, in a way that inspires them,” said Nellis. “Using various tools and strategies, she helps her students learn, and, more importantly, helps them develop into caring and effective teachers.”

Kingsley’s use of technology in the classroom is twofold — she uses it to teach her students, and to prepare them to use it in their own classrooms. However, she noted, technology is not the magic solution to all problems.

“I always stress that pedagogy comes first, and then technology,” Kingsley said. “It’s a tool. It represents a mind shift in how our students learn, but it’s not the magic bullet. Adding technology to your classroom is not going to magically fix everything.”

She first became interested in technology and teaching while earning her Ph.D., when she did a study about teaching children to read online.  She realized that technology is a way to engage students in learning, and “when I realized how it can transform the learning experience, I was hooked.”

As more and more schools incorporate one-to-one technology, Kingsley feels great responsibility to prepare her students to integrate technology into their teaching.

“Many college students are tech savvy in their personal lives, but being well-trained and using technology in the classroom is a different story,” she said. “I look at tools through the lens of using it with my students to teach my curriculum, and then I step back and look at it through the perspective of a future teacher. How can they use this in their classrooms?”

For example, she hosted an interview with Skype with the author of one of their textbooks, and then had her students consider what opportunities they could bring into their own classrooms with that tool. They also blog about children’s literature, and play online learning games.

Kingsley recently started running her gradebook like a game, with progress bars, badges, awards, and levels to earn for class work.

“I thought a lot about games, and engagement in them, and the freedom to fail,” she said. “Eighty percent of gamers are failing, but the more they fail, the more they want to go back and keep working. I wanted to reinforce that grit in my students. Instead of looking at failure as a problem, gaming makes it an opportunity for a second chance.”

Kingsley will be one of eight faculty members recognized April 13 at the 2018 Celebration of Distinguished Teaching dinner and awards program. The celebration marks Founders Day, a traditional event recalling IU’s founding in 1820. Three graduate students also will be honored.

In addition to Kingsley, IU President Michael A. McRobbie will present awards to recipients from IU Bloomington, IUPUI, and IU Northwest.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 03/19/2018