Faculty Experiences - David Halle

David Halle - photoDAVID HALLE


Interview Topics

What matters most to you in your teaching?

How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?

How have your students responded to your use of technology?

What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?


Work with real data

Research projects

Virtual tour



Chat sessions

Class web site

GIS mapping

PowerPoint (software)


Building Skills to Continue Learning

The most important thing in teaching is choosing an interesting topic. You must communicate to students things of interest. Within the classroom you must try to engage them so that beyond the class they will have skills to continue the topic themselves. In class, I try to put on the most informative, entertaining lecture I can. I try to have an interesting research project for my students.

Ever since the 1950s with the advent of television, the traditional lecture has been at a disadvantage compared to the television experiences that people have come to expect. The strength of a lecture is it's sense of intimacy and one's ability to ad lib. The weakness of the traditional lecture is that it is technologically unsophisticated. In the last 10 years with the development of PowerPoint, the web, and GIS [Geographic Information Systems],for example, lectures are able to combine the strengths of technology with the traditional advantages. So we have more means to deliver information to our intended audience.

Technology for me is a bundle of items. Over the past 10 years, the use of multimedia devices have changed greatly. I started out using PowerPoint tools and was able to increase the items to include in lecture videos and music and so forth. Then I was able to use GIS Mapping as a side project. With the development of the web, I started a project looking at Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Currently, we are able to use the web to show pictures and have experts give commentary. I'm hoping that students can add their own tools to the GIS Mapping we use. For example, we have a research book on New York and Los Angeles and through the web we can constantly update the data. So this is a tremendous strength: the web site keeps the research from becoming outdated.

I think students on the whole are very pleased with the uses of technology in the class. Students like the PowerPoint lectures. How do I know? I guess the best way to tell is through the student evaluations, and they comment enthusiastically about the technology. I guess there is a way to torture students with technology, for example, by trying to give them too much information. Provided you can get over those hurdles and you use it appropriately, I think the advantages of using technology are self-evident.

I use the class web site in several ways. I provide supplemental materials for students to read by going to the web site. I'm not just talking about text but other ways like touring the New York art gallery. They can go on a virtual tour. They can view maps and video. In the social science department, class web sites are set up with chat rooms for discussion and commentary.

It's a continuing process to learn the technology. It's an investment of time, but it's worth it. For example, you can constantly reuse your work and it can be updated and fine-tuned easily for future use. Before, that process wasn't so easy to do when I was doing traditional lectures. It makes teaching quite enjoyable. In the end it's less work and you feel that you are closer to your students.

Oral Interview, 2003