Technology Rich Interactive Learning Environment

Rob Garrick

Associate Professor
College of Applied Science and Technology
Pneumatics and Hydraulics
Undergraduate, Campus-based Course

Rob Garrick from RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology wanted to explore a better way to engage his students in active problem solving and make himself available to them when they needed it most. This led him to think about adopting a new teaching approach that would allow more personal attention while students worked on solving problems, and would enhance instructor-student and student-student interaction. Rob's solution was to design and foster a learning environment that would provide the right balance between lecture delivery, student group work, homework, and technology-facilitated interaction.

Teaching and Learning Goals

Rob looked at integrating technology with his pedagogical approach to create a holistic teaching and learning environment in his class. He believes that it is important to understand the appropriate uses of technology in the classroom, and how technology can enhance learning. With this view in mind, Rob implemented Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) as his teaching methodology. TPACK helped him create the right balance to engage students in his Pneumatics and Hydraulics class.

In addition to implementing the TPACK methodology, Rob implemented a “flipped" (or "inverted") classroom approach, recorded video lectures, and tablet computers. In the flipped classroom, students view recorded lectures outside of class, and spend classroom time working in groups on problem sets and practical applications of concepts, with Rob available to assist as needed. In the video lectures, Rob explains and works through concepts and complex equations to prepare students for the work they’ll do in the face-to-face class sessions.

TPACK [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Teaching Strategies

Rob implemented problem-based learning and an active student-centered approach using multi-projection screens, tablet computers, and collaborative software in RIT’s Teaching & Learning Technology (TLT) Studio. Students access the 10-minute, pre-recorded lectures (Garrick Module Sample) that Rob creates using Adobe Captivate, and delivers via the Content Tool in myCourses.

Before recording, Rob maps his lecture material into modules to ensure he addresses weekly learning objectives, and that the learning objectives match the practical application that will take place in the face-to-face sessions. To create his video lectures, Rob uses Teaching & Learning Services’ self-serve Studio G. PowerPoint lecture materials are imported into MS OneNote, allowing him to make digital annotations; he then uses Adobe Captivate to record his voice and the annotations throughout the video. Students can replay the lectures as many times as they wish.

The lecture files are provided to students in different video formats so students can access them from many different devices—cell phones, laptops, iPads, tablet PCs, or desktop computers. As an incentive for watching the pre-recorded lectures and preparing for in-class activities, students are quizzed and graded on the lecture material at the beginning of each class. During class, students work collaboratively on the more complex problems, giving them ample time to research, discuss, and suggest solutions. Students also use this time to ask questions so they resolve issues as they occur. This way, Rob gets to see first-hand how students approach problems and arrive at solutions, and has opportunities to gauge how, and to what extent, individual students might be struggling with certain concepts.

Experience and Results

For this approach to work, Rob had to prepare his students by explaining the flipped classroom concept so they would realize the need to view the lectures outside of class, and understand the benefits of hands-on activity during class.

Each quarter, Rob uses student feedback and his own experiences to improve the classes, and students have responded favorably. They come prepared for class activity, seem to grasp the material more readily, and data shows a drop in D, W, F rates. With a more interactive learning environment, Rob feels he has been able to establish a better rapport with his students, helping them discover multiple ways to solve problems and work effectively in teams.


This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. EEC-1137106.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.