“This page left intentionally blank” was a joke a colleague used to use to describe a presentation or event void useable content. As I took our class this week, I wondered if I could be clever enough to invent a phrase that connotes the opposite. Yikes! … on day three of our week together I sat dumbfounded wondering if my head could take in just one more thing followed by a sense of fear that I wouldn’t be able to implement even a small fraction of the capability and opportunity presented.
A little over 24 hours later, I’m pleased to report I’m already practicing my new-found skills as evidenced by work I’ve completed just today including including
- writing this ready-to-share review in Google Docs,
- passed on a 78 MB file successfully to a colleague via Google Drive,
- reviewed a company 10Q and operations summary for improvement strategies for other colleagues via a Jing screencast and annotation.
Overall I’m in a far-better place confidence-wise and re-energized to practice and employee these new-found strategies as soon as possible in my teaching.
Some specifics about the week that I found most helpful:
- A morning session (and prior reading) on proven methods for improving the classroom experience shared and critiqued amongst peers with professional education scholars as guides.
- Subsequent 1-2 hour introductions and practice around most of the new tools and topics related in engaging students in ways previously unimagined:
- collaborative document creation and sharing
- MOOC model comparisons
- remote and impromptu review and development facilitation via Hangouts, et al.
By way of introduction, I come recently to academia after a 30 year career in management consulting and large-firm operations. In those 30 years, I’ve seen a steady decline in the investment in employee development. While obviously pleased to be involved in a productive learning process again, this experience left little to want.
That said, one opportunity for the future sessions might be to spend deliberate effort in linking best pedagogical technique with select technical scenarios to solidify (in our minds) how these tools are and can be much more than just technological advancements. While always good to leave a certain amount to creative minds, in an age where there may be “too many” technology alternatives, it might be helpful to suggest a couple of paths through the morass while we’re learning the mechanics of using the tools.
In closing, let me offer support for a program to extend the learning here through a path to “teaching scholarship” … a professional designation, sponsored by the Provost, for in-service practitioners at the University where classes of colleagues would practice and share in equal parts of pedagogy development, technology use, practice and overall critique in each-other’s development over time. The result would be a steady stream of cross-university teaching leaders ready to bring the best to our students and colleagues alike. What can’t be understated in this proposal is the value of working with the same cross-discipline set of colleagues over a long period of time, something I perceive doesn’t exist today.
My thanks to the Provost for the office’s forward-thinking in sponsoring the Institute and thanks to Mary Ann, Michael, Cory and colleagues from across the campus for their work and care in bringing the content together.