Reflect—Collaborate—Plan: Supporting a Culture of Innovation through Online Communities of Practice
Concurrent Session 4
As institutional leaders launch student success initiatives and technology-enhanced solutions, they must not overlook one of their most impactful change agents: the faculty. How can institutional leaders support sustainable, measurable faculty development as a critical part of implementation? This session will explore an innovative approach to online faculty development, by empowering national communities of practice.
- Recognize the role of faculty development and intentional, evidence-based teaching as a part of the student success ecosphere and an essential driver of removing barriers to innovation
- Outline priorities and challenges for supporting both full-time and part-time faculty in sustained faculty development initiatives that result in changes of teaching behaviors
- Discuss how an online model of professional development promotes faculty access, engagement, and sustained teaching practice improvement intended to create change
- Explore reflective practice as a robust process rooted in scientific inquiry that is enhanced using a national, online learning community
With myriad initiatives aimed at addressing challenges around student success, institutions must not overlook one of their most impactful change agents: the faculty. As institutional leaders look to implement technology-enhanced solutions to impact both student success and broader institutional initiatives, they must simultaneously consider how they will support faculty development as a critical part of the implementation. And, while meeting benchmarks on completion is an important metric, student success is more than completion. Student success is about helping students connect with, understand, and apply content and information. What happens in the learning environment is critical to student success – particularly for underrepresented student populations. Therefore, supporting an institutional culture of intentional teaching and classroom innovation is vital, even if historically difficult to measure and achieve at scale.
How can we further the conversation and adopt online solutions to allow for a sustainable approach that values faculty experience while supporting change? How do we solve for the challenge of providing data to help not only faculty make informed decision about the efficacy of their teaching practices, but also administrators to see the value of devoting resources to faculty development? How are we leveraging technology to effectively provide a space for critical conversations about teaching and learning and their connection to faculty goals and institutional initiatives? There is no doubt that faculty are key to improving student success, yet not enough attention is given to supporting faculty, both full-time and part-time, and in providing tools to enhance their instructional approaches. In addition, faculty are too-often called out as a barrier to innovation, yet they are often not offered meaningful opportunities for practice improvement, reflection, and collaboration with peers.
A relatively new model of personalized and cohort-based online professional development, stemming from a multi-year, foundation-funded, national research project, is showing great gains as an essential resource. The model, as documented in the book, Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters!, (2015) focuses on using innovative technology to empower an online community of practice, individual reflection, and direct application of evidence-based instructional practices. This work, which started with a focus on developmental education in community colleges, is now gaining traction across various institution types as a scalable way to support instructional innovation and provide access to all faculty by leveraging an online educational development model.
This session will explore the methodology and solution that offers a supported, online community of practice. By creating space for faculty to meaningfully engage in national conversations on evidence-based instructional practice, we will share how this approach creates sustained pathway for innovation to occur, while generating data for faculty and the institution to help drive change and demonstrate how teaching practices are linked to institutional goals. Faculty begin to see how to use evidenced-based practice in concert with the integration of digital tools and other institutional initiatives, thereby impacting the effectiveness of not only teaching, but also implementation. We will dig into the design thinking principles that inform the model and the technology that supports it. We will also showcase institutional implementation of this work through the lens of a faculty participant’s and facilitator’s experience and outline how this model could be integrated into existing faculty development programming and how it can be used to generate data to support institutional effectiveness, strategic planning, and accreditation. Participants will have the chance to engage in a reflection activity and will participate in a storytelling exercise to explore their own perceptions of reflective practice, communities of practice, and appreciative inquiry as a way to enhance teaching innovation to impact student success.