I was working over the weekend on my presentation for the upcoming NJEDge.Net Conference 6.0 (November18-20). My session is titled "The Ripple Effect: Faculty Redesign Through Course Redesign" and I guess the title hints a bit at where the presentation goes. I might have called it "The Shell Game," because part of the idea is sleight-of-hand.
The Writing Initiative at Passaic County Community College which I direct has as its primary goal improving writing. The means to do that is by redesigning more than twenty courses across disciplines as writing-intensive. But, when the grant was written, an embedded component of the project was also to increase the use of technology by the faculty and students both participating in those writing intensive courses and in the larger college community.
There's a good chance that there has been some type of faculty-development, technology-infusion effort at your school at least once in the past decade. Many of them are not very successful. There are lots of different reasons for that and my session won't try to determine why, but what I have observed is that in some cases the technology was never accepted by faculty as necessary to what they were teaching.
Our approach has become (and it has changed during our first two years) trying to make sure the horse is in front of the cart. Though we, by necessity, still need to offer some formal faculty development for our Initiative technology, we are trying to keep a lot of that less formal.
We have a lot of technology in the writing courses for students and faculty - collaboratively creating digital content that is shared with other instructors, online assessments, lecture capture, streaming video, e-portfolios, e-tutoring, online scheduling, and promoting the use of the college portal and learning management systems. We have courses that are online, blended, and face-to-face. There's so much technology that we were often questioned (particularly by faculty) in the first two years of the grant if we weren't losing sight of the writing.
Now, as we start year 3 of the five-year grant, we can definitely point to one successful aspect of our efforts: the ripple effect in the adoption of the grant-funded technologies beyond the writing-intensive courses and instructors.
My session will report on the successes and challenges of these efforts including the data collected by my team and PCCC's Institutional Research department about the initial effects the Initiative is having on student success, learning outcomes and retention.
It pleased me to read the EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges report for 2009. In trying to set the agenda and collaborate with colleagues around real solutions and innovative directions, the community came up with their Top Five Challenges in teaching and learning with technology. Our Initiative addresses all five.
1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation. 2. Developing 21st century literacies (information, digital, and visual) among students and faculty. 3. Reaching and engaging today's learner. 4. Encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with IT. 5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning with technology in an era of budget cuts.
"Faculty Redesign" is not something you really hear being discussed on campuses as much as course redesign, but that's what I am talking interested in seeing happen on our campus. Both are best done as a process, rather than some thing we do because we have new tools to use.
The first 3 challenges in the list above are more explicit in our grant. The last two may ultimately be the most important.
If you want to know more about the EDUCAUSE Challenges and participate, check out their project wiki where they are trying to build a network of solutions and join the Challenges Ning Network.