Faculty Experiences - Stephen Jacobsen

Stephen Jacobsen - photoSTEPHEN JACOBSEN

Electrical Engineering

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?


Independent learning
Review materials


Class web site
Online lectures
Virtual Office Hours (VOH)

Enhancing Student Learning

In 1997, I embarked upon the idea that technology was not as accessible and applicable to the students I was teaching as it could be. For a large undergraduate class such as EE103, Applied Numerical Computing, that I teach, I tried to create an outlet for students to contact me on a regular basis.

I decided to use Chemistry's Virtual Office Hours (VOH) so students could ask me questions at any time they so chose and I could respond to them frequently. Most importantly, I created a set of synchronized audio/visual lectures that students could access remotely at any time. My students could concentrate on the in-class lectures, knowing that they could review those lectures, and the associated complicated material, at any time. I noticed a considerable increase in the quality of students' questions and I attribute that increase to the asynchronous access to actual lecture material.
The reactions from students were very strong. The first couple of times I implemented this format students told me they wished all lectures could be like this. As time goes by, they have gotten use to it so they are looking for the next best thing to come along. I do not think the format I am using is the norm in engineering classes. I do not know about the rest of campus either.

I think given the advances in technology and the way we can deliver information--especially technical information that may not be comprehended in lectures in real time--we need to de-emphasize the professor as performer and just deliver the appropriate information to students. So my personal opinion is that we should, especially at a University like UCLA, provide students with as much information in the course as possible so that their self-learning is enhanced. In our department, we have been decided to provide every course with a class web site. We do not want these class web sites to be trivial. We need to put resources into the technology to the extent that we can use class web sites to enhance student learning.

Oral Interview: June 11, 2003