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Using Fronter to inspire Students

When Ronny Steen finished his Ph.D. in Ecology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), he wanted to teach and inspire students. His dream has become a reality.   

"When my supervisor went on sabbatical one semester, I was given full responsibility for his course. It gave me the opportunity to try some new teaching methods, which the students seemed to appreciate," Steen said.  

Image: Ronny Steen doing fieldwork in Costa Rica, by Marte Marie Brynildsen.  

Think like a student 

Steen had to administer the course in Fronter and he wanted to create the best user experience possible.   

"As a student, I had used Fronter for many years. I experienced courses of varying quality within the platform, so I saw the potential for improvement. After learning basic editing in Fronter, I simplified the folder structure. I tried to see it from a student’s perspective," said Steen. 

When Steen was done updating his course in Fronter, it was easy for his students to find what they were searching for and it looked visually appealing.  

Listen to the students 

During his first lecture, Steen asked his students for feedback.   

"I asked if I was moving at a good pace and everybody nodded their heads. At the end of the day, when I asked them to complete an anonymous evaluation in Fronter, half the class said my lecture moved too fast," said Steen.   

That´s how he learned that asking his students for anonymous feedback using Fronter is especially important at the beginning of the semester, when students are most shy.  

Image: Screenshot of the results of one of Steen´s surveys.

Steen went on to create three surveys. One at the beginning of the course, so he could adjust at an early stage, one halfway through, to verify that his adjustments worked, and one at the end to summarize the semester.   

"The evaluation at the beginning of the course was the most valuable because it taught me what I needed to prioritize," said Steen.   

By using Fronter to gain feedback, Steen has become a better lecturer and his students are more engaged. 

Won Fronter award  

In 2014 Steen received the Fronter award at NMBU for his inspiring lectures. The jury said: 

"Ronny Steen livens up teaching with his innovative use of digital media. He takes his students on an exciting journey, where he uses Fronter and other digital media to activate and inspire them."   

Steen has enjoyed working as a lecturer and has been given the opportunity to teach the course again in the spring of 2017. He is looking forward to inspiring new students while exploring possibilities within Fronter and other great educational tools.   

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