Christmas in June

Summer gifts, including an Apple TV commercial about a teenager behaving very unusually…

I just saw this Apple commercial on a website for a COPLAC Digital project. (I don’t watch TV, so I hadn’t seen it before.) I had the honor of attending the COPLAC DLA Summer Institute a few weeks ago as part of a GLCA exploratory team. The institute was great, and their project, based on the success of Century America and other courses, is a strong model of cross-institutional collaboration promoting student research on a glocal scale.

While the ad is cute, with delightful displays of emotion, I must say it’s not an accurate representation of the average teenager’s use of technology. I don’t know, Apple might have received similar criticism when it was originally aired. Most teenagers–and I’m a father of two, with two other children aged out of that bracket–aren’t surreptitiously recording family interactions when they appear to be completely absorbed in their mobile device. Most teenagers, indeed many adults and people of all ages, are actually completely oblivious to what’s going on around them when their attention is devoted to their mobile device. What’s portrayed in the video is highly unusual behavior, the exception, rather than the rule.

That said, the video is an excellent example of what technology can do and how it might be utilized in education. For that reason, it’s worth sharing.

GLCA launching a Consortial Center for Teaching and Learning

The Great Lakes Colleges Association GLCAlogo is launching an innovative take on a center for pedagogy, funded by the Teagle Foundation. It’ll be consortial: a community of faculty and staff with demonstrated commitment to improving teaching and learning across all of GLCA’s colleges. It will rely pretty heavily on the Web and web conferencing, along with in-person events.

This is great news for us, as OWU doesn’t currently have such a center–we have a modest Teaching & Learning website–and we lost our Faculty Development Coordinator–and that was only half of her title/role on campus–several years ago.

I’m excited because sometimes I feel like this, quoted from the grant proposal:

Too often effective teaching is regarded as less important than research and publication, even in our liberal arts colleges; affiliation with a consortial teaching and learning center will help to empower advocates for teaching on each campus who are often not regarded as “prophets in their own land.”

I wouldn’t call myself a prophet, but I’ve certainly felt the frustration expressed by colleagues in similar positions at other institutions that providing training and support for faculty is worse than herding cats.