ESCALA…I Believe in You!

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the ESCALA Education Summer Retreat and begin my journey in the Certificate in College Teaching & Learning in Hispanic Serving Institutions program with a cohort of colleagues from my campus. The core of ESCALA focuses on faculty development through a self-reflective framework. This builds throughout the retreat, by adding both concepts and tools to map one’s personal journey in meeting the needs of all students.

While there were many takeaways from my experiences in Santa Fe, New Mexico (a beautiful, very cultural town) both professionally and personally, some key highlights include:

  • having the opportunity to spend more time with colleagues outside of campus
  • deepening my understanding of cultural influences in learning (and teaching!) and how everything we do is woven with these patterns including the hidden rules/expectations of each
  • exploring context of cultures (framework for looking at culture); high and low context differences in the ways in which we engage, communicate, learn, etc.
  • building trust with students

Telling my students
“I Believe in You”

ós I gather the various nuggets of my experience at ESCALA, I plan to not only change a few activities in my course (and a few approaches), but am going to merge this work into a formal study in my classroom this year that is looking at a specific intervention to find out whether or not it influences a sense of belonging for first-year freshmen. My goal is to align this study with my ESCALA Certificate Project, which will include looking at equity data in my course (pre and post intervention). Deepening my own awareness/assumptions/biases/cultural contexts will help me to be more thoughtful and intentional about understanding and supporting all learners and the cultural capital that they bring to the learning experience.

In my faculty developer role, I am interested in how our institution might build on the ESCALA work and tools to create a sustainable model on our campus. I hear from faculty colleagues that have participated in ESCALA, that this framework provides a structure that motivates them in completing their project.

Key resources:

  • Classroom Cultural Context Inventory” to create a personal connection to the high/low context framework that will help educators connect their own contexts to the contexts of their students
  • Laura Rendon’s Cultural Capital List

Varying approaches to course design

It’s been an extraordinary week (and even weeks before) of our Course Design Institute. We approached course design/redesign with a very different set of frameworks than the more traditional course design sessions. Knowing that it is not realistic to do a complete course design/redesign in one day or even one week, we took a blended approach (part face-to-face and part online) but began with framing the context of the Institute with a  map.

Goals. Two bubbles that read: Stated Course Design Institute Goal, Teaching Goals Inventory goals (1-2 goals). Factors. Three bubbles that read: Our students, Course Data, Student, Instructor, Content Logic. Actions. One bubble that reads: Content, Pedagogy, Technology . Equals Your Action Plan.

Your Goals + Factors + Actions = Your Action Plan

The map of our course (re)design journey began with each educator’s Goals, including what they stated in their proposal, followed by their Teaching Goals Inventory (Angelo & Cross) goals. Then, in session we explored the various factors that inform our choices;  what we know about our students, what we’ve learned about any trends in our course data (dive into historical course success data), and considerations around the three logics/perspectives (student, instructor, content and all the assumptions and questions around these). From there, we focused on how their content, pedagogical, and technological choices inform/influence all of these factors. Finally, their Goals + Factors + Actions = Your Course Re(design) Action Plan. As a framework to guide thinking and action, we designed a Course Design “Action Plan” Template (sample included).

We provided grounding in the face-to-face session and followed with one-week of online, asynchronous exploration into how their goals, factors, and actions can provide a solid approach to a customized course design/redesign. It’s been amazing! More detail to come

Have you ever?

Have you ever taken a risk on something knowing that it was probably a long shot? This thinking can be applied across a multitude of contexts, but I am thinking about this in relation to learning. In essence, no matter where we are and what we are in, we are forever learning (even when we don’t realize it in the moment, or can’t put our finger on it). I am fortunate enough to be in a constant state of learning in my professional role working in a Center for Teaching and Learning. Every day I take risks and put myself out there (or choose not to put myself out there) based on varying contexts and experiences. Just last week I took a risk by trying something new that was outside of my comfort zone, and although it felt scary, I knew that it helped me grow. Sometimes taking risks means waiting, sometimes it means jumping right in.  Think of time when you chose to wait as opposed to jumping right in — what did that feel like and what was the outcome?


The Intersection of Teaching, Learning, and Technology

Technology in teaching and learning can be everything from the pen and whiteboard we use to a free web tool, and everything in between. Enter the TPACK framework (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). TPACK, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, is a theoretical framework to support educators in making informed choices about how to support their content (and students’ learning!) in connection with the pedagogy and the technology.

Read more on this T&L Tip on The Intersection of Teaching, Learning & Technology

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.

Creating Community

For those of you who know me or follow me regularly on social media, you know how much “community” is part of everything I do and the very essence of who I am.  This last week, I wrote a brief teaching and learning tip on Creating Community in Our Learning Spaces that hit home for me in various ways. I think about this in the practices of my classroom spaces, outside classroom spaces, in my workspace, and in the relationships that I engage in both professionally and personally. Community can take on many different meanings across many contexts. For me, community is the beginning of so much more that follows.  Where and how do you create community?

"community" cc by by Kamaljith

The Last Day…

What do you do on the last day of class? Is it time for ‘business’ and getting the last tasks done? Or is there opportunity for critical reflection and closure?

reflection on water

Making the Last Day Meaningful is focused around the idea that the last day is just as important as the first day of class. Being intentional and thoughtful about what this learning space includes is key to students’ learning and experience. Would love to hear your ideas about what you do on the last day of class…

Rock Your First Day of Class!

In writing this tip, I kept reflecting on various ‘first’ days that I experienced, both as an educator and a student. So much is happening on this first day! Everything from excitement, to fear, to curiosity.  As I leave my office and head to the first day of class in a new semester, I often have emotions that feel just like the first time that I taught the class. I am nervous but excited. As a student, I get these very same feelings.

How can we tap into these feelings and really set the stage for the learning experience? Check out some brief tips: Rock Your First Day of Class!

Connecting Librarian-and-Instructional Designer

Through ID2ID Peer Mentoring

By Jennie Goforth, Librarian at UNC Chapel Hill and Kim Vincent-Layton, Lead Instructional Designer at CSU Humboldt

This post is our culminating reflection of participation in the 2017-18 Cross-institutional ID2ID Peer Mentoring Program for Instructional Designers co-sponsored by Penn State University and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI).

Zoom session

Kim and Jennie in a Zoom session

As we embarked on this amazing adventure, we gathered valuable tips and resources from our respective fields, practices, and institutions. Our focus on the topic of librarian and instructional designer collaboration was a natural fit, as Jennie is a librarian and Kim is an instructional designer. We were both interested in spending time reading and thinking about how these two professions are and should be working together to further the teaching and learning happening in higher education.

One of the resources that provided a framework for conversation was our common  reading, Librarians and Instructional Designers: Book cover for Librarians and Instructional Designers by Eshleman, et. alCollaboration and Innovation (Eshleman, Moniz, Mann & Eshleman, 2016). This book identified some key aspects to help identify changes in higher education with respect to the roles of librarians and instructional designers particularly with our digital world, as well as where new synergy has and can be created in collaboration across the practice. Following are brief insights of our insights and examples from our fields, along with potential collective opportunities that move beyond collaboration and into deeper impact on student learning.

Collaboration between Instructional Designers (ID) and Librarians (LIB)

  • Brainstorming diverse ways to reemphasize or re-ignite teaching, learning, and design particularly with the surge of the digital world, e.g., co-developing and facilitating workshops for faculty (digital scholarship and learning design) and students (course design, copyright, and research).
    • In the past, UNC has done popular joint workshops with our Center for Faculty Excellence, but these have fallen by the wayside. Reviving these workshops could be beneficial to our faculty, especially given our new expertise and focus on multimedia assignments.
    • At HSU, we’ve recently created a new Center for Teaching and Learning that is grounded in collaborative partnerships based on student learning. These partnerships have begun to cultivate a culture of collaborative creation and facilitation of learning opportunities across functional groups.
  • Intentionally looking for ways to lead and strengthen the quality of teaching and learning by helping the learners understand how our global society impacts learning.
  • Efficient and effective communication by combining efforts and messages, e.g., with the ever increase in digital communication this combined effort could reduce the number of messages that faculty receive about similar information. With careful planning, coordinated messages could give faculty better and more focused information about how both groups can help with their teaching — minimizing noise and maximizing comprehension!
  • Creating communities of learners, e.g., Writing Group Community that includes Learning Center specialists, instructional designers, librarians, and English Department faculty to create a holistic approach to writing support for faculty and students in a variety of contexts
    • At UNC, Jennie is part of a community of practice focused on library instruction and teaching. Wouldn’t it be great to invite IDs to some of our meetings, to further librarians’ understanding of what IDs do as well as to brainstorm further collaborations?
    • At HSU, Kim is launching a Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Program that is cross-disciplinary and inclusive of faculty and staff. This spring, the first PLC is a ‘train-the-trainers’ model to support faculty and staff in creating PLC curriculum in a learning community environment.

Challenges with ID and LIB collaboration

  • Grasping a clear understanding of the role of librarians and the role of IDs and how to best collaborate for collective impact
  • Both professions deal with identity challenges. The traditional view of librarians as people who just know about books, and misconceptions about the ubiquitous nature and changing descriptions of instructional designers both make it difficult for faculty and other university staff to understand exactly what we do and what services we provide. This negatively impacts our ability to make positive relationships with faculty members.
  • Potential territorialism of the fields, e.g., “the invisible wall”, in searching for synergy, overlap, confusion both internally (among teams/units/organizational structure) and externally (clients)
  • Limited time and resources to do more than complete current day-to-day responsibilities
  • While similar in many ways, the two professions also have some major differences.
    • Similarities
      • Focus on service, both to faculty members and students.
      • Focus on learners and crafting learning experiences.
      • Major responsibility is to support faculty members in the classroom, though often not teaching courses themselves.
      • Rapid changes in both professions, due to technological advances and the changing nature of higher education.
    • Differences
      • Librarianship is perhaps a more traditional and established field (though often misunderstood in the modern era). Instructional design as a profession is relatively recent.
      • Instructional Designers often focus more on learning technologies and how they fit into the campus infrastructure.

Value of face-to-face sessions

What we found valuable in our peer relationship in this program were the ongoing synchronous Zoom sessions that allowed us to get to know each other and get an understanding of our institutions, structure, and practice. We reflected that although asynchronous reading and thinking helped with our workflow, the synchronous format created a space for building a relationship, something noted as critical in learning.

ELI Key Issues

In our mid-point reflection, we noted Faculty Development as one of main foci of conversation in the respective work we engaged in.  Noted by the ELI 2017 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning as one of the top transformative areas in higher education, these The New Science of Learning Book Coverfaculty development efforts provided a platform for sharing resources and ideas about how to most effectively support 21st Century learning through digital skills as a real-world practice. Shared resources:

What we’ve noted since our first reflection, is the extension of our work in two other ELI Top Key Issues that include Academic transformation and Evolution of the Profession.

  • Academic transformation includes the rapid increase in digital scholarship and the role of librarians and instructional designers in facilitating this transformative work while also addressing the quality and effectiveness of this information. While Eshleman, Moniz, Mann, & Eshleman (2016) note a huge shift in changes for the librarian’s role, this also shifts the instructional designer’s role in work with faculty on course design. The traditional role of the librarian as a person who buys books and keeps them in order on the shelves has evolved greatly over the last several decades. Libraries now have functional specialists in all types of technologies that can help scholars throughout the research lifecycle — from finding the best information in all different types of media to publishing and preserving that research.
  • Evolution of the Profession was a topic that we spoke about often. The world of higher education is changing rapidly for people in all types of roles in colleges and universities. There is (and must continue to be) a constant drive to innovate, to make our institutions more efficient, to focus and adapt more readily to our students’ and researchers’ evolving needs, and to show our value to the teaching and learning happening at our institutions. These factors have greatly influenced the work that we both do. It was also interesting to discuss how these changes are being reflected at our two very different campus environments.


We have both found the ID2ID program to be valuable. Our biweekly Zoom meetings were filled with lively and interesting discussion!

Jennie: I felt that my understanding of what instructional designers do was greatly increased through my conversations with Kim. This new understanding will be invaluable as I work more closely with IDs at my own institution — I have many ideas about how they and the library can effectively collaborate.

Kim: I really value the relationship that Jennie and I developed that not only provided a safe space for conversation about the changing roles of IDs and librarians, but also ideas for cultivating this on my campus. I also feel like I have made a strong connection with a colleague that I can reach out to for ideas and resources.


Doyle, T., & Zakrajsek, T. (2013). The new science of learning: how to learn in harmony with your brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Eshleman, J., Moniz, R., Mann, K., & Eshleman, K. (2016). Librarians and instructional designers: collaboration and innovation. Chicago: ALA Editions.