Two leaders central to the teaching mission of CU Boulder say resources are available to support faculty who want to submit proposals to the recently announced CU Next Award, which encourages innovation in teaching via multi-campus partnerships.
CU Boulder’s Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Daryl Maeda and Kirk Ambrose, founding director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), are encouraging faculty to apply with other CU campus partners for grants that range from $100,000 to $300,000 to, in Ambrose’s words, “encourage folks to dream big on this and take their pedagogy to the next level.”
This CU Next Award is sponsored by the CU system Office of Academic Affairs and seeks to promote cross-team collaboration among all four CU campuses by providing additional resources to individual faculty and small groups who want to reduce barriers to hardware, software, programming, vendor contracts and other resources that department funding cannot cover.
The initiative requires faculty from at least two campuses to collaborate beneath the umbrella of a campus commitment and to “open us up to opportunities we haven’t been able to explore in the past,” said Maeda. “Faculty can think broadly about technology, like virtual reality. They can use platforms to do things like adaptive learning that are intensive or expensive to adopt and evaluate.”
Maeda said the unique nature of the grant creates a testing ground for new ideas because it “demands the technology be adopted, used in a class, assessed and evaluated, then improved for another go around.”
Each grant, he said, will fund the use and evaluation of technology in three teachings of the same class, “which gives us a chance to learn as we go and innovate and improve our teaching in demonstrable ways.”
Maeda said the campus will make institutional commitments that could be financial or resource driven, such as “a department, school or college saying we’ll assign you to teach the class being innovated three times in a row, or we’ll approve a buyout from another course as you develop this one.”
Ambrose said CU Boulder is excited about the possibilities of the grants “for all disciplines—we are not predisposed toward STEM disciplines. We are excited to welcome people new to using technology and to partnering, and no one should feel intimidated if they have a nascent idea.”
CTL, along with offices such as the Office of Information Technology and the Office of Data Analytics, will support CU Boulder’s proposal development process, working together as “a kind of incubator,” according to Ambrose. To spark interest and engagement, CTL is sponsoring a kick-off event Jan. 28. This virtual event will bring together people from across the campus to spark ideas, share strategies and build collaborative efforts.
Moving ahead, Maeda will be the interface with the CU system in the proposal process, and will partner with Ambrose and other experts to develop a rubric to evaluate CU Boulder-generated proposals.
Maeda said the proposals, which are due on April 4, “will be screened by a Boulder campus committee and then advance to a system selection process.”
Besides the chance to apply new resources toward teaching, Ambrose said the grants support the development of new ideas—fostering multi-campus teaching partnerships that do for teaching what institutional research partnerships have historically done for research.
“Teaching is often cast on our campus as isolated and individualized—it’s just you alone with your class,” Ambrose said. “This is a great chance to move from this isolated teaching mode to work collaboratively across the system—fully embracing experimentation and innovation.”