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Otterbein Associate Professor Kilbane transforms instruction for the 21st century

Otterbein Professor Kilbane transforms instruction for the 21st century

Which particular topic do you most enjoy teaching?

I most enjoy working with teachers and helping them understand how to transform instruction and other classroom practices for greater impact in the “Information Age.” The world is changing rapidly due to the 24/7 information access and technology serves as both the fuel and tool for reforming education. Education has historically been about acquiring knowledge. Today this is still important but it is increasingly important for teachers to help their students learn to apply information to live, work and engage with others. Today’s teachers must meet the needs of diverse learners, adapt instruction so that all students can meet rigorous and evolving standards, and create meaningful communities for students at school. To be successful, they need a new mind set (one of a problem-solver), an expanded skill set (one of a designer), and a powerful tool set (including new and existing instructional strategies, models and digital technologies). Using technology effectively is much more than learning to “push buttons,” it involves thoughtfully integrating it in ways that make learning more efficient, effective and engaging. All of my work revolves around this mission.


What is your research/scholarship/creative/service area of interest?

I am interested in solving educational problems. I have had the opportunity to focus on many and varied problems over my 25 years in an education career. Most involve the application of design principles to strategically integrate the powerful information and technology resources available today with the most important, valuable professional discoveries of the past, in order to equip educators for the schools of the future. I have written extensively about differentiated instruction, digital portfolios, case methods, technology integration and other topics in professional education.


What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on numerous, meaningful projects. Several of those involve local education partners. One involves the implementation of a “Straight A” grant written by Otterbein Department of Education Chair Kristin Bourdage in partnership with the Canal Winchester Public School system. This grant also involves education faculty member Dee Knoblauch. Over four years, we will be working with teachers across this school district to help them learn how to cultivate their students’ abilities to practice 21st century skills known as the”4Cs- Creativity, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication.”


Another involves Vince Detillio, who is the director of secondary curriculum from the Olentangy School District. Together we have designed and are facilitating a course on critical thinking instruction with a cohort of teachers across this school district. This project involves disseminating powerful approaches to instruction I wrote with Natalie Milman, a colleague at The George Washington University, called “Teaching Models: Designing Instruction for 21st Century Learners.”


I’ve also offered numerous workshops through the Central Ohio Educational Services Center, which brings teachers from around the state to Otterbein's campus for in-depth professional development on numerous topics related to 21st century teaching and learning.


How do you involve students in your academic endeavors or mentor students in their own academic endeavors?

I am currently mentoring fourth-year student Zoe Nietert as she completes her honors thesis on a powerful pedagogy called “project-based learning” and its application in secondary math classrooms. Zoe was introduced to project-based learning in a course she took with me called EDUC 2100- Introduction to Educational Technology. Later she decided to make project-based learning —which I used in my design of this course — as the focus of her honors thesis. It has been exciting to see her develop her knowledge on this topic. It has been even more so seeing her develop a rubric that teachers can use to evaluate the quality of the many project-based learning resources they might find shared on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers. In her project, Zoe has learned how the scholarly process works and also created a product which will improve her own practice others in her profession.  


Why should every person you meet want to know more about your area of expertise?

Lifelong learning has always been an important but is even more so in the 21st century. Whether we're learning to read and write, parent children, buy a car or perform our jobs we must continue learning. Technology can help us, but only when we know how best to use it.  


If you were not an educator, what would be your dream job?

If I weren’t an educator solving educational problems, I would like to design solutions that address other types of problems. I might be a medical professional helping people to heal long-term, chronic health problems with nutritional and lifestyle changes. Or I might address problems of global warming, unemployment, food insecurity and personal health by developing initiatives that involve urban farming like the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. 


What are your hobbies outside the classroom?

Outside the classroom, I enjoy reading, cooking, fixing things in my 100-year-old house and gardening. I have been involved in preserving Irish heritage. I have bred and shown dogs from a rare, historic Irish breed called the Glen of Imaal Terrier, producing numerous AKC Grand Champions and three National Champions, as well as many loving and spirited companion pets.

Learn more about Otterbein's Department of Education.