Faculty come together for innovative teaching and learning
- Author: Aurelia Spaulding
- Author: Friday, March 20th, 2020
Pictured: Hannah Digges Elliott and Dr. Marko Dumančić.
Since the announcement to transition to alternate learning environments, more than 500 faculty have rethought how to teach students, and students are processing how they will learn now with all their classes online. At the heart of this transition lies the team at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and Dr. Marko Dumančić, CITL Director and Associate Professor of History.
“I thought to myself this will be a challenge but knowing how dedicated our faculty are to our students and how passionate the CITL team is about helping faculty, I know we can weather this and come out stronger,” Dumančić said.
Many faculty ended spring break early, and despite many personal challenges, have gone above and beyond in retooling their courses for online instruction, according to Dumančić. The Center for Innovative Teaching has attempted to make the transition as smooth as it can be under the circumstances for WKU’s faculty.
CITL continues to offer webinars on various online software and tools such as Zoom, Blackboard, and Mediasite. “We have engaged in one-on-one consultations with faculty on specific questions, and are holding regular ‘office hours’ with departments to problem-solve challenges faculty face in reaching and teaching all of WKU’s students,” Dumančić said.
According to Dumančić, CITL staff and WKU's faculty seek to ensure that all of WKU’s students have access to materials and instruction that will help them continue the semester and complete their coursework. For this reason, they are partnering with faculty to determine ways to help students advance academically regardless of their circumstance.
Some of those ways include student resources through TopperTech and Housing & Residence Life. “TopperTech is helping students without laptops with their loan program. Housing and Residence Life is accommodating students without internet access,” Dumančić explained.
“We understand that some students may not have access to high-speed internet or that their families might be affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19. This effort is thus just as much about creating equitable access to education as it is about innovative teaching approaches.”
The staff at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning see firsthand these approaches to teaching. “Faculty are coming up with alternative assignments for students in case they have spotty or low-speed internet. I think it’s a case of all university units and departments working in unison to pull off a major endeavor,” Dumančić expressed.
There are several online practices expected in many courses moving forward. Videoconferencing via Zoom will be used by faculty to teach curriculum along with meeting with students. Zoom also creates an opportunity for small group activities in many classes. Students can use Mediasite to produce content to share with faculty and other students. Art and Physics Departments may equip students with supplies for them to work from home.
Dr. Kristina Arnold, Department Head for Art, provided to press, “We know our students won’t have a woodshop or an etching press available, so we’re changing requirements so that they are able to use what they do have readily available. Faculty are busy prepping materials for students to pick up and take home with them so that they have access to things like silverpoint, carving tools, and clay. (This type of prep work would normally be done as part of the in-class learning process).”
“This transition has thus generated quite the creative process and by the end of the semester there will be plenty of new ideas we'll be able to share and perhaps continue to implement after this semester is over. As they say, necessity can be the mother of invention,” Dumančić said.
The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning focuses on collaborating with faculty to create courses in which all students learn at their best. In partnership with WKU's tremendous faculty, CITL's instructional designers help students graduate with the kind of educational experiences that will make them successful academically and professionally. For more information on CITL, visit wku.edu/citl. For information on Topper Tech resources for students, visit https://td.wku.edu/TDClient/Requests/ServiceDet?ID=225.