For years in his Exercise and Mental Health course (HMB473H1), Dr. Franco Taverna would reserve one class for an esteemed guest lecturer. His colleague, Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and an expert in medical education and public health would present a lesson on mood & anxiety disorders. Two years ago when Dr. Alsuwaidan moved to Kuwait to serve as Head of Mood & Anxiety Disorders and Inaugural Director of Education at the Kuwait Center for Mental Health, his absence would threaten to leave a noticeable gap to be filled in the course.
Or, it would have if it wasn’t for some unique technology integration to keep this engaging opportunity as a continuing option for the course. Dr. Taverna, a leader in the use of academic and collaborative technologies in his teaching decided to continue to invite this expert lecturer and have him present through UofT’s Collaborate webinar tool. In real time Dr. Alsuwaidan is able to speak on a topic and interact with the class from his office in Kuwait (in fact, in 2013 Dr. Alsuwaidan lectured live to his students in Kuwait while simultaneously lecturing to Dr. Taverna’s class in Toronto – to great success).
Projecting the Collaborate session, with streaming video and PowerPoint style lecture slides, onto the screen in front of the class and incorporating the audio to the classroom sound system offers the distance instructor presence in the room. The webinar offers the opportunity for Dr. Alsuwaidan to actively engage with the students and remain sensitive to their needs with pauses for questions and answers facilitated by Dr. Taverna to ensure they are following the lecture. The students are engaged from start to finish, listening to an expert speak passionately about the subject. This collaboration between Dr. Taverna and Dr. Alsuwaidan is another unique way that technology is being adapted and used to enhance teaching and learning through an online presence.