Balancing Act

Eight staff members in the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) have found their schedules full this semester with the addition of teaching Stony Brook University courses.

By: Joslyn Matthews
Last Updated: March 22, 2017

by: Joslyn Matthews '15

Eight staff members in the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) have found their schedules full this semester with the addition of teaching Stony Brook University courses. All have varying levels of experience in the classroom and have devoted their time to educating students outside of the full-time positions they hold.

For some, this is their first time teaching at Stony Brook, like Senior Programmer Analyst Neeru Ailawadi from DoIT's University Information Systems team who began teaching Applied Health Informatics this semester. It's a course that teaches students how information technology may be applied to the health industry. Ailawadi has been in the programming industry for 17 years and she enjoys the work she does with her large undergraduate class of 85 students.

"It's my personal time that I've compromised a lot, but just because I get fun out of it, I'm enjoying it, so it doesn't seem like it's difficult to manage both," she said.

Ailawadi is able to apply many aspects of her job to the class. She says understanding the basics of the software and applications that are used everyday is an important skill in the health industry.

At the end of the semester her students will take what they have learned and build an application from scratch.

It was not Ailawadi's original intention to teach while working here, but when an email from the Health Sciences department circulated that professors were needed, she stepped up and applied. Through teaching, she expressed satisfaction in being able to give back to the community by sharing her knowledge of the industry she works in.

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Matthew Engel is a senior programmer analyst for finance and budget in DoIT's University Information Systems department and has been working at Stony Brook for the past 18 years. Although this semester is his first time teaching a course at the University, he has 10 years teaching experience at local colleges. Balancing his new position is no problem because of his past experience. Like Ailawadi, Engel applied when he received an email that the University was looking to fill teaching positions.

Engel teaches Database Design and Development for Health Informatics. It is a graduate course where students learn about rational database theory and development methodology with a focus on the aspects of a health information systems development life cycle.

In his classroom, Engel is able to share his detailed knowledge of the industry with students.

"One of the advantages of being an adjunct professor is that you bring real-life experiences to the classroom and students really appreciate that," said Engel.

One piece of advice he often shares with students is that they should never expect a project to run as smoothly as the textbook says. He says former students have come back to tell him how true that is.

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Patricia Aceves is the Director of the Teaching, Learning & Technology (TLT) Faculty Center, a department responsible for faculty development in the classroom. This semester, Aceves is teaching a freshman seminar called Introduction to Conflict Resolution that teaches students to recognize their particular triggers for conflict and how to resolve it with different methods.

Aceves sticks to Blackboard when it comes to assigning work to the class because it gives her the tools to organize the course. As a final project students will have to act out a conflict resolution scenario and post it as a video to Blackboard. Aceves' use of multimedia components means the future courses she teaches will benefit from this one. By having students make these videos, she will be able to demonstrate the concepts that she teaches in a more effective way by presenting them in later courses.

Because Aceves has prior teaching experience, it is easy for her to balance it with work.

"DoIT is very flexible and really supports its employees in teaching, especially within TLT because that's what we do," said Aceves. "We support faculty, so it's important that we also experience the role of a faculty member so we can relate more directly to them," said Aceves.

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Rich Stein has worked as an audio visual associate at Stony Brook for more than four years and has been teaching the New York State Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic program for three years. Stein enjoys teaching the course and has been a licensed EMT in New York for more than eight years. As an undergraduate student at Stony Brook, Stein followed through with his interest in the emergency response field and became an EMT while working on campus.

Although the course he teaches seems to have no relation to his job, Stein is able to apply much of what he does to the classroom.

"I've kind of brought what I help support here, in terms of the teaching technology, to the EMT program," he said.

Because Stein has had the chance to observe on multiple occasions how professors on campus make their classes interesting with the use of technologies such as clickers for student responses, he is now able to utilize such methods in his own teaching.

The class he teaches is six hours long, a length that could cause minds to wander if not properly engaged. With the mix of older and younger students in his rather large class of 70-80 students, Stein utilizes tools such as clickers and VoiceThread. According to Stein, by having students actively participate, it takes away the monotony of a six-hour lecture.

Stein pursued teaching because he had been involved in training department members for the agency he had previously volunteered for as an EMT, a job he said he found fulfilling and enlightening. Once that enjoyment in teaching was realized, Stein spoke with instructors in the Health Sciences Department who he had met as an AV technician and was welcomed as an instructor.

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Cole Camplese is the Vice President for Information Technology & CIO at Stony Brook and is teaching a new course called Disruptive Technologies this semester. The course focuses on how technology is shaping the world, specifically on college campuses, and utilizes a number of applications and technologies in creative ways. Twitter is used with a customized hashtag for the course and SB You hosts the class blog where students post assignments. Each student was provided with an iPad and is expected to use it to give consistent and regular feedback throughout the semester.

An interesting instance of crossing over between teaching and work occurred for Camplese when a student wrote a blog post about the quality of the Internet connection in certain learning spaces on campus, specifically in the Staller Center.

"How can we consider using iPads in the academic environment if the wireless network coverage is spotty in high usage areas?" wrote the student, Christopher Stratis.

After becoming aware of the problem, Camplese alerted his DoIT Data Network Services team who quickly began upgrading the Wi-Fi in Staller. Within a week, two rehearsal rooms had improved wireless connections and the networking team had scheduled conduit work to enhance the wireless experience in two theaters, prompting a "weekly create," (one of Camplese's assigned tasks to his students) by another student in the class who paid homage to DoIT's quick response.

"I'm very supportive of staff teaching," said Camplese. "It affords our employees the opportunity to not only grow as professionals through teaching, but it also allows them to have first-hand contact with what I consider to be our most important stakeholders, our students."

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DoIT Staffers Teaching During the Spring 2015 Semester

Patricia Aceves, Director TLT Faculty Center - HDV 102: Seminar on Conflict Resolution

Neeru Ailawadi, UIS Senior Programmer Analyst - HAN 466: Applied Health Informatics

Cole Camplese, Vice President for Information Technology & CIO - CDT 450: Disruptive Technologies

David Ecker, Director Research Technologies - EST 204: Modern Digital Technology Infrastructure / HON 101

Matthew Engel, UIS Senior Programmer Analyst - HHA 504: Database Design and Development for Health Informatics Professionals

Chuck Powell, Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning & Technology - ACH 102: Undergraduate College Seminar in Arts, Culture, and Humanities / LDS 102: Leadership and Service

Rich Stein, Audio Visual Associate - EMT-B

Nancy Wozniak, Learning Architect - LDS 102: Media Literacy and Cyber Communications

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