Sharing some faculty development ideas…because…it’s conference proposal rejection season for me. The latest I received today smarts especially – the third attempt to the same annual conference. Jilted again. *sigh*
I decided this time to share what I submitted anyway…here on my blog. I do think this sequenced faculty development experience is worth sharing. I’m putting it here – giving the ideas away as suggested by Seth Godin. Do or make of them what you will. I am licensing them as CC-BY. My one request is that if by some chance you find anything useful here and you want to use, remix, make better, that you hop over to the Google doc I created for my session and tell me. Leave a note. Say what you plan to use and how. Link back to your stuff, if you make stuff. (Our hashtag is always active: #qepfdi. Check it out).
Faculty selected to participate in our Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges Quality Enhancement Plan – the Student Technology Enrichment Program (STEP-UP) are required to participate in a week long immersion development experience where we guide them through a course redesign process with the intended outcome that they complete the week with at least a draft syllabus for their course redesigned as ‘technology intensive’.
We have developed a multi-modal approach to this experience where we model possible assignments and tools they might use in their own courses. An over-arching goal for their work is to move them beyond completing a task list towards engagement in a reflective course re-design process. We challenge them to discover and articulate the very essences of their course. They are further challenged to communicate their discoveries in new and different (sometimes uncomfortable, definitely unfamiliar) ways.
I am calling this a cross walk because faculty move from the main ideas they want to teach/consider in their courses, through and to a succinct digital presentation of ideas as a culminating outcome. Our approach to the course redesign process is loosely based on the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy proposed by Andrew Churches Using this framework allows us to structure each component of the redesign work around familiar key terms at the same time that we introduce very new technology tools. The suggestions the digital taxonomy offers helps to align possible new tools and approaches to course goals and ideas as they emerge step-by-step.
Step 1: Homework
The first step in thinking differently about their courses and how they might teach them is writing a syllabus… narratively as a 900 – 1200 word story. The assignment – Write the Story of Your Course – is given 2 weeks before our immersion week. In the assignment details, faculty are asked to address key elements in their course from what is important for students to learn through to how they will know students have learned what is intended. (Details of the assignment are provided over at the Google doc linked above). Faculty come to the development week with this writing complete. We also ask them to bring a digital and paper copy of the ‘real’ syllabus.
Step 2: Text Analysis
The next step is a guided textual analysis where faculty are asked to analyze their narratives by creating word clouds. We have allowed different tools for this task, but require that faculty start with using Voyant Tools. We expect that they create a sharable version of their word cloud to present and discuss with the group. Interesting insights emerge. For example, one of our faculty was quite surprised to note the most frequently used word in her narrative syllabus was the word ‘must‘. A very interesting dialogue ensued as others considered their own syllabi presented to them in this new form. At the same time, they gained experience with using word clouds for text analysis and we began to consider options and uses for this tool in their own courses. A further progression of this activity requires that faculty analyze both their syllabus story narrative and their traditional syllabus and compare them for new insights.
Step 3: Infographic
At this point in the cross-walk, faculty are assigned to use their syllabus narrative to create an infographic of essential elements they teased out as a result of their analysis of text (their own writing). Again, we are moving them through the exercises to discover essential elements; creating at the same time that we introduce technology elements for accomplishing the tasks. Again, we ask them to share/explain/discuss their outcomes and decisions as they create a graphic representation of their course.
Step 4: Syllabus Blackout poem
The syllabus blackout poetry exercise invites faculty to again consider the essences of their course by using a copy (digital or paper) to create a blackout poem. Faculty may elect to use a variety of art supplies to craft the paper blackout poem or explore digital tools and options as they prefer. The blackout poems are shared in dialogue with colleagues to explain design decisions and the final outcome – focusing on how the poem is an expression of their course.
This activity is immersive and requires a creation experience that is new and novel and unfamiliar, but that helps faculty to examine essential elements in their course in ways they may never have considered before.
Step 5: Story Board
From this point on in the work faculty are guided to create a 2-minute course video trailer based on what they have learned. Sample trailers are introduced and we spend a good deal of hand’s on workshop time exploring possible templates and layouts for their story boards and for creating the video artifact of their thinking and work. Faculty can use any video creation tool they prefer. We do make some suggestions of possibilities from plain vanilla to more robust options. We have folks with a variety of levels of technology skill, but we encourage them to push out of their comfort zone to These work products are shared, analyzed and discussed – again interrogating the process of designing and building at the same time that we work with different technology components. I’ve included a list of tools we have used over on the Google doc.
Step 6: Course Trailer
The immersion week ends with an exhibition and celebration of the finished course trailers and dialogue about creation decisions all along the way.
I hope any of my faculty colleagues who participated in these activities recently will comment to share their perspectives on the experience.
So there. You have my conference presentation here and now.