Heith Hennel, professor of information technology: lightboards to light the way to the future

This is the second in our series introducing this year’s endowed chairs. 

This year’s winner of Valencia Foundation’s Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Free Enterprise wants to build heith-hennel09lightboards for his students: “I am really interested in seeing how technology can be leveraged to increase business efficiency and produce better products, as well as making our daily lives easier to manage.”

Great, you say. What’s a lightboard?

Professor Hennel explains, “Imagine an invisible board between you and your students. You teach facing your students. They see you and somehow everything you write hangs in the air, magically inverted so it is readable from their perspective. You can even project and interact with content on the invisible board between you.

“In information technology, there is more and more pressure to flip learning. The lightboard is the cutting edge tool teachers can use to produce flipped content. In fact, it is so new that it can’t even be bought in stores; it has to be built. Currently, only a handful of universities have it.”

Hennel’s view is that “Valencia should be a leader in bringing this technology to community colleges.” He’d like to create a lightboard challenge—similar to the “Ice Bucket challenge”—to challenge teachers in other disciplines to create cutting-edge, flipped content for their classrooms and students.

He intends to partner with Valencia’s Circles of Innovation team to spread the word about the technology and invite others to create flipped content via a lightboard challenge. “As teachers use the device and record their own flipped content, they will be able to openly challenge colleagues and friends at the college to use the tool to create their own flipped learning content. The Circles of Innovation team has indicated that they would like to feature this work on the Circle of Innovation Website and possibly even do a Circles of Innovation session around the topic.”

Rio Teachers

Professor Hennel, in Rio de Janeiro.

The entire goal here is to ensure that our current courses in Information Technology are kept up to date.

Hennel explains, “As more and more schools and programs move to online, hybrid and flipped content, we need to stay ahead of the curve. This tool will help provide teaching in a new way that will better engage today’s learners. But this tool doesn’t only benefit students in IT; the challenge will open up the technology to teachers across the college and across disciplines.”

An enthusiastic UK basketball fan, Professor Hennel was born in Lexington, KY. He served in the US Navy from 1994 to 1999. His master’s degree is from the University of Maryland, and he also holds two graduate certificates from the University of Illinois in systems security and information assurance. His wife, Teresa, was his high school sweetheart and he has two children, Sydney, 5, and McKenzie, 8.

“I am really interested in internationalizing the curriculum across disciplines to see how we can create a great global experience for our students. I am also really interested in providing students with a chance to experience another culture while studying abroad.  I will be taking students to London this year.  In past years, I have taken students to Barcelona, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero and the Dominican Republic.”

Professor Hennel has been teaching at Valencia since August 2003.

 

 

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