Meet Ameya Sawadkar!

Image shows Ameya Sawadkar.

We’re excited to welcome Ameya Sawadkar to the CTL team! Ameya is joining the Center’s learning and technology initiatives. Read more about Ameya below and stop by the Center to meet him in person.

What is your new role at CTL, and what are you most excited to work on?

I’ll be working as a Learning and Technology Specialist and consulting with faculty about best practices in using educational technology in various classroom environments. So far, I’ve attended a workshop in the area and had a few conversations about technology use with people. I am excited about understanding the technology ecosystem at Tech, how faculty perceive and approach technology, and working on projects involving pedagogical use of AI, VR, and other emerging learning tech!

How did you become interested in learning and technology? What do you enjoy about it?

I grew up with video games and gradually developed an almost academic interest in how they facilitate learning and social interaction. Learning Management Systems were new in the education system in India, and I got an early opportunity to help instructors manage their Moodle (!) courses which served as my gateway to learning technology. One thing led to another, and after completing my master’s program, I found myself teaching at the same institute, reviewing research on gamification and Richard Bartle’s work on player motivations and types (Bartle, R. “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDS.” 1996. I wrote a proposal to integrate this work into teaching, supported by a student survey on their motivations, leveraging the LMS, and some UDL principles to design a new (and more engaging!) course on Introduction to Market Research Methods. However, at the time, my understanding of the experience was rather ambiguously in the ‘I think I like teaching’ category. Few years later, I was working as the Graduate Assistant for Learning Technologies with the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, applying all I knew to my workshops and teaching and simultaneously integrating technology where it would make everyone’s lives easier. Here, I was formally introduced to the nuances of teaching and learning and the nuanced work around learning technology in education. Now I am in an exciting space where technology is integrated into the institution. I have a background in computer engineering, communication management, and qualitative methodologies; I find all of it comes together beautifully in this space and function! Being able to apply my complete skillset makes learning technologies work enjoyable for me – asking the right questions to (help me and the person I am working with) understand what we are trying to solve, what might be some tech-facilitated solutions, and helping implement them.

Do you have a resource on teaching with technology that you’d like to share with instructors at Tech?

I actually have more than one! Considering the contemporary excitement around AI, I have always pushed consultees to explore the frameworks and technology that goes behind artificial intelligence. I think it is easier to make decisions around integrating AI applications and technology into your teaching environment if you know how it works. Here are links to a couple of beginner level (and more, once you feel up for it), low-stakes, free, and non-time-consuming courses on the topic (and I have more recommendations if you have more specific requirements!):

1. Google’s introduction to generative AI course
2. Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence for Beginners (with a post lecture quizzes and some labs)

In addition to these, Microsoft has an excellent resource called Microsoft Inclusive Design which I have found immensely useful for designing digital materials of all kinds. The website has simple explanations as well as guidebooks for ‘Introduction to Inclusive Design’, ‘Inclusive Design for Cognition’, and a tiny one on how they think about designing inclusive AI. At the bottom of the page, you will find case studies, activity cards, recommendations for inclusive hardware, and other very useful things!

Is there a fun fact about yourself you’d like to share?

To this day, I carry my childhood enthusiasm for anime, video games, and certain books. While I haven’t set up my office yet, you can expect to see prominent figurines, references, and 3D printed models from some of these popping up as I work on the decor! My connection with these goes far beyond their value as fiction, I often return to many of my favorites for inspiration and refilling my creativity meter. Don’t be surprised when any of these are launched your way if we are in a conversation like ‘what are you watching currently?’ or ‘do you have any recommendations for things to watch?’!

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