The Great Lakes Colleges Association 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.
Today is the second day of mid-semester break and the campus is pretty quiet. It’s a good time to catch up on things.
This fall semester has been busy. It sure seemed like classroom equipment was misbehaving or completely failing more than usual. Sure, some of it is getting old. Two SmartBoards in our Education Department both decided to stop tracking at the same time. They’re both at least 6 years old and well out of warranty. We’ve also started tracking serial numbers in our classroom equipment inventory records–still a mostly manual process. I have two new student workers helping with that and other projects. We also have a new Technical Service Specialist who started at the beginning of this month. We still have one open position for a Systems Analyst.
I presented a faculty lunch seminar last month on blended/hybrid learning. It turns out that our President suggested at the faculty meeting the day before that we consider online classes. My boss and I began providing info to our Academic Policy Committee on what our peer institutions are already doing online. Then the Transcript picked up the story and everyone’s talking about it.
This week’s topic is blended content and assignments, another good reading. I liked the emphasis on integrating the online and face-to-face components of the course to make one, seamless experience for the students. There was a helpful discussion of learning activities with and without technology. I’d say the many apps and sites and services under the heading of Technique (How) only scratched the surface of what’s out there. In fact, Fargo.io, an outliner site/service, was mentioned on NPR on Monday.
In other, synchronicitous news, there was an article in Science Magazine reporting that lectures aren’t just boring–they’re ineffective. Active learning trumps passive learning any day. The more the brain is engaged in the process the better it learns.
And it was good timing that I also attended a Blackboard webinar on badges today. Lots of ways to make learning more engaging and active and rewarding! I’ve actually earned 12 badges so far in this MOOC, and one of them is displayed above. Badges may now be awarded in Blackboard too, and our OWU Blackboard is currently getting an upgrade to Service Pack 14 (all the way from SP 6!) Come fall, I’ll be doing a lot more to promote the use of Blackboard features to make courses more blended and more engaging.
“a) teaching by telling does not work for most students, b) students who are part of an interactive community are more likely to be successful, and c) knowledge is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct their own understanding.”
~ from the POGIL website. (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning)
This summer I have the pleasure of teaching two classes for the OWjL camp program here at OWU. Last week I taught HTML and CSS to 6th graders and this week it’s WordPress for 8th graders. It’s been fun to work with the kids, all of whom are eager to soak up knowledge and new skills.
OWjL is a week-long summer camp for gifted youth in 6th through 8th grades in the Central Ohio region. I’ve been involved with the program for several years, but always on the back-end, enabling their counselors to access our wireless network and or making sure they had the equipment they need.
Over this last academic year I’ve been developing a database for the OWjL Office staff to use to keep track of campers, classes, and instructors, getting them finally off of our old legacy system. So I decided to take the plunge and offer a class or two. It’s been fun and good practice, and the kids are great.
Working with our Buildings and Grounds Department this summer on a major project to renovate classrooms in one of our buildings, and meeting with them and contractors yesterday to discuss technology in a planned new fitness center, I got to thinking at how my role on campus is that of a generalist who must know much of all kinds of technologies. I not only advise faculty on integrating technology into their teaching–as most Instructional Technologists do–but also advise on what technology to purchase or put in a classroom. I am the primary system administrator for Blackboard and our Google Apps for Education domain, as well as the primary admin for our WordPress server. Among our User Support Team in Information Services I am the subject matter expert on all kinds of software, being a certified Microsoft Office Specialist. I also do all the technical training on campus for faculty, staff, and students. When it comes to technology I am pretty much a jack of all trades.
This tends to keep my job interesting and exciting. I get to do all kinds of things, from removing old equipment to introducing new faculty to our various systems. Sometimes I’m crawling under a desk to check a connection or climbing up on a desk to turn on a projector with a missing remote control. It always keeps me on my toes.
As the only Instructional Technologist on our campus, a member of a small Information Services Department, I’d say such dynamics are par for the course. And I thoroughly enjoy it.
(Although it can be overwhelming at times. So I’m looking forward to having student workers again to help me out.)