Letters from the Advisor - April 2017

Published: April 19, 2017

Dear Arts & Sciences Faculty,

A lot has happened over the last month or so at ASSETT. I want to touch on a couple of things: digital learning and thinking, an emergent social network stemming from the Faculty Fellows program, and upcoming events for the summer.

Dr. John Sloop

Dr. John Sloop from Vanderbilt visited and delivered a lecture about digital learning at the Teaching with Technology Symposium on April 6, 2017. A claim that emerged from his talk was that we need a core curriculum in digital learning and thinking in part because the digital environment is changing how we communicate, learn, and think about issues. At the same time, digital learning, communicating, and thinking is rapidly spreading across networks of individuals working in higher education. While it may be true that our students think and learn differently than students of past decades because we are embedded in a digital world, it strikes me that before we embark on developing curriculum and teaching strategies designed to advance digital learning and thinking, it would be useful to compare and contrast digital learning and thinking from non-digital learning and thinking. If there are demonstrable and relevant differences, we should collectively articulate the big ideas, craft generative questions, and describe enduring understanding around digital learning and thinking. What is a big idea in digital learning and thinking? What are essential questions that we should be asking ourselves about digital learning and thinking? And finally, what does it look like when our students have become competent and confident digital learners and thinkers? If we don’t engage in scholarly debate around this issue, it’s possible that we risk getting on a bandwagon without sufficient perspective to steer towards a relevant destination. 

An estimate of a social network for the 14 fellows  and their colleagues involved in the faculty development of teaching.

An estimate of a social network for the 14 fellows and their colleagues involved in the faculty development of teaching.

Another ongoing project is the Faculty Fellows program. There are 15 Fellows (including myself) representing 14 different units with the College. Among the many emerging themes, the central focus has been developing community around teaching. To this end we have been recording the social network of interactions around teaching. The current cumulative network suggest that there is a rich, vibrant, and diverse community engaged in the active promotion of teaching and learning in the College. Meeting and talking with the Fellows is one of my highpoints of my career at CU. 

Finally, I encourage you to get involved with ASSETT’s summer programs. The Teaching and Learning Consultants have planned three fantastic learning opportunities so please save the dates. Join us for a week long exploration of technologies that you can use in and out of the classroom at Tech Camp. This event runs from May 15-19 in Norlin E113 from 10-11:30 am. If you’re interested in modifying your course for online, hybrid, or flipped delivery, come to one of our all-day workshops on May 31 or June 14. More details to come soon. And finally, we’re hosting our second annual book club from June 1-26. Like last year, we’ll host the first and last meeting in person, and all other conversations will be held virtually. We look forward to seeing you at our events!

Thanks to the Fellows and the ASSETT community for making CU such a fantastic place to work and learn.