"Technology can be a tool but is not the end.”
Martin Zahn is a life-long student of biology. Still eagerly learning the science of life today, he can recall his interest in the natural world going back to when he was just seven years old, catching spiders and praying mantises, then observing their behavior for weeks. As an undergraduate, Zahn was exposed to new biology subjects that captured his attention, as did teaching, which he gained experience in as a lab assistant as part of his scholarship program. Inspired by his advisor, Zahn knew he wanted to continue his studies to become a college professor. He began graduate work, but the prospect of the Draft interfered, so he joined the Air Force instead. Zahn’s Air Force career did not end his aspirations of becoming a teacher. His first teaching job was for the University of Maryland, Far East Division, while he was in service overseas. He taught biology classes at the Air Force Academy for four years then as an adjunct instructor for eight years in Alaska. Retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years in the military, Zahn began a new career at Thomas Nelson in 1993.
Zahn has always found multiple biology topics interesting, so he appreciates the opportunity to teach a variety of biology classes at Thomas Nelson including General Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Microbiology. In the classroom, he uses a combination of lectures, online materials and case studies, while occasionally using TED Talks videos to show his students more current viewpoints on natural science.
Using new technology in the classroom is important to Zahn. For more than 15 years, he has been involved with Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Education (MERLOT), a project that reviews the merits of online teaching and learning materials, so educators can find new materials that meet the needs of their classes. His commitment to the use of technology was likely a factor in his receiving the Virginia Community College System Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008. However, Zahn believes technology is not the only answer, which is why he still emphasizes lecture. “Technology can be a tool, but it is not the end,” he says.