Prof(ile): Adam Barragato brings tech revolution to CMU

(Brooke Whitten | Grand Central Magazine)

As the age gap between professors and their students seems to grow year by year, it is refreshing when students walk into a classroom with a professor who is ready to jump on the technology bandwagon. However, professors using texting to communicate with their students, or having a Facebook account set up to directly answer questions from students in a pinch, is something that Central Michigan students don’t get the chance to indulge themselves with very often.

That being said, there are those few and far in between professors that make a valiant effort to reach out to their students using the one thing that they use the most in their daily lives, technology.

I recently had the opportunity to associate myself with one of those professors, Adam Barragato. At the young age of 27, he teaches COM 353, Small Group Communication and COM 357, Public Speaking. This is one professor that has the ability to go above and beyond to try to effectively communicate with his students by using technology not only during the class period, but also making himself available outside the classroom via things like texting and Facebook.

Barragato is taking it upon himself to bridge the technology gap between professors and students in order to make education a more positive, impactful experience for both the student and professor. The message he is trying to send to the community of both students and professors about technology is that it is a simplistic apparatus that conjoins the worlds of classic teaching styles and revolutionized takes on teaching that work for the students of today.

“For teachers it is very simple. Technology is a tool, and if it is used effectively it can make the classroom experience much more positive, but only if it is used in the appropriate way,” he said.   “It can be a great tool to engage students. For me, it’s like saying, ‘Hey I’m trying to connect with you!’ And I understand that there’s an age gap, but I am trying to close it.”

After getting the chance to sit down with Barragato and ask him why he thought technology was so important in the classroom I began to understand why he tries to use it on a daily basis, and why getting the word out to other less ready-to-adapt professors is one of his top priorities.

“I see technology as a visual stimulant, to get students awake and thinking, and as a way to connect with them,” Barragato said.  “It helps me to use that class time as a way to make class more exciting and not just a lecture. If I didn’t use technology I would just have them sit there, rather than using technology where it’s like a prompt that helps me bridge the gap between what they already know, and what they need to learn in the classroom.”

Not only does Barragato rely on things like email, text and Facebook to effectively communicate with his students outside the classroom, he also uses technology-based tools in his classroom everyday including: Wii Smartboard, Prezi, YouTube clips, videos, pictures, websites and blogs. He believes that using tools like this in the classroom will generate a much more positive atmosphere and relationship between a student and their professor.

Barragato is doing his best to try to spread the word about technology’s effectiveness in the classroom, but at the same time realizes that there are negative connotations between the tech-savvy world younger generations live in, and the professors left out of the loop.

“What I’m trying to do is change the attitude toward technology and on a one-on-one basis, persuade professors to see technology as a very beneficial tool in the classroom,” he said.

In order to gain support for his fight to bring about more technology in a bigger variety of classrooms, Barragato has presented to his Communications Department and shown them these different tools and how they can be effective in the classroom. He also had the opportunity to present his ideas at the Tech Summit this year. At these Tech Summits students and faculty come together to learn more about technology as a whole, but in Barragato’s case using it in the classroom.

“Unfortunately I haven’t really had the opportunity to reach the masses,” he said.  “I need some way to really get this message out because my goal is that we can work together in finding ways that we can make this tool as efficient as possible.”

As Adam Barragato continues on his journey to bring more technology to CMU, the take home message is that professors are trying to reach out and connect with their students, but we must meet them halfway. The use of technology in the classroom can generate a plethora of positive impacts on campus, but in order to motivate professors to want to use it, its benefits must be vocalized, which is exactly what Barragato is gallantly trying to accomplish.