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Dr. A. Wade Boykin

Dr. Spiridon Karavatas
September 2005

How can you teach physical therapy students to analyze human movement and identify clinical symptoms without access to patients? With a lot of imagination and a little technology, Dr. Spiridon Karavatas has solved this problem, especially in his kinesiology and cardiopulmonary courses. 

An Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Dr. Karavatas is no computer programmer or graphics designer. He simply takes advantage of what’s “out there”: He searches the World Wide Web and textbook CD-ROMs for videos and animations; scans hard-copy diagrams and pictures; utilizes PowerPoint and gait analysis software; and harnesses the University’s Blackboard course management system. By integrating such technology, he helps students visualize complex biomechanical concepts and human pathologies. Moreover, by posting course materials on Blackboard, he gives students more time to process the material at a comfortable pace without increasing class time. Posting on Blackboard not only promotes self-directed learning outside the classroom, but assists students who have disabilities since they can replay the presentations as much as needed. Karavatas’s high-tech approach also saves students and the University money because of decreased paper and photocopying costs.

Dr. A. Wade BoykinNo wonder students have responded so positively to the integration of technology in Karavatas’s courses. Students say that they find it easier to understand material presented via multiple modes of technology than solely via a textbook. They have also reported feeling more comfortable and competent in clinical settings. Most significant, their performance on practical and gait analysis exams has improved. Says Dr. Steven Chesbro, the chair of Karavatas’s department, “Since his inclusion of technology in the courses he teaches, a marked increase in scores has been noted, especially in the Kinesiology and Cardiopulmonary courses.”

Dr. Karavatas has not only committed time and effort to integrating technology in his own courses, but he has also upgraded two classrooms for departmental use. After installing computers, projectors, microphones, speakers, and Internet capability, he conducted a workshop to show his colleagues how to use the classroom technology to enhance their teaching. As Chesbro notes, Karavatas is truly a “trailblazer.”

 

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