Starting a Center for Teaching and Learning

As I reflect on the last two years, I have very positive feelings about the launch of our campus center. We started in an unusual way, somewhat of a grassroots.  Some of this is captured in a recent paper that I co-authored in PODSPEAKS, a publication of the pod network. The paper is a collection of ideas, advice, and experiences across a group of faculty developers who have been involved in Starting a Center for Teaching and Learning.  In a future post, I would like to expand on this journey as a way to inspire others, and reflect more on the deeper elements of how a Center evolves and becomes part (or not) of a campus context/culture.

Inspiration Everywhere

Last week, I was inspired by many people and ideas at CSU Fresno! The faculty are engaged in transformative practice and the Center for Faculty Excellence team is engaged in faculty partnerships that both ultimately impact students’ learning.

This was a day of exciting energy around their Canvas launch, but more importantly around the exploration of opportunities that highlight what the new technology can be through a re-thinking of one’s teaching, sharing with colleagues, and possibilities to connect students with the world.

Table Mountain Rancheria Reading Room, Henry Madden Library

I was honored by the invitation to provide the Keynote Presentation, “Canvas and the World: Inspire, Innovate, Impact” for their annual Technology, Innovations, and Pedagogy Conference. The emphasis was on how we can use technology to open up student learning to the world. We looked through the lenses of inspire, innovate, and example to dive into examples of how Canvas and related technologies opened these doors to the world.  One example included an activity in my blended public speaking course where students use VoiceThread to “Share the Story of Your Name”. This one activity has created opportunity for students to practice their speaking skills in the digital environment, acknowledged the diverse perspectives and backgrounds in the course, and created long-term connections between students. Fresno faculty shared what Canvas Panda at Fresno Stateinspired them as teachers; what innovations they are engaged in/planning; and ultimately how their practice impacts students in meaningful ways. One faculty member shared their inspiration in the work that their students are doing. Another shared how they are using ePortfolios for students to curate content related to their learning. They are engaged in amazing work!

After the keynote, three faculty lightning talks focused on community and humanizing the learning experience. These faculty members shared their research on the their teaching, the innovative use of technologies, and the impactful ways in which their students were connecting to one another through learning. Dr. Tayeb shared how he used Canvas discussions for study guides and exam wrappers as a way to find out what students were focusing on before the exam and reflecting after the exam. He also shared his strategy using anonymous Canvas quizzing to find out where students are struggling, e.g., muddiest points. Dr. Anzoleaga discussed a variety of technology uses to engage her students, including her use of Canva for students to create a bio at the beginning of the term. Dr. Aguilera shared how he uses digital tools and pedagogies to support the “humanized” experience of his students.

I am inspired to try new things this coming semester! I feel fortunate to work with so many amazing colleagues who are engaged in findings ways to reach their students in meaningful ways.  In terms of Canvas, my brain is going every which way about the many ways in which it can be used as an opening to the world.