Hot Topics, Obstacles, and Strategies for Professional Development Units in Higher Education

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Have you ever wondered what other institutions’ professional development units were up to? Join members of the OLC-ATD research team as they share results from a recent mixed-methods study that explored hot topics and obstacles to success for centers of teaching and learning across institutional types in the United States.   


Dr. Nicole Weber is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Foundations Department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she also coordinates the Instructional Design and Learning Technology (IDLT) master’s degree program. Prior to her current position, she served as the Associate Vice President (AVP) of Learning with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), working closely with staff and global partners to advance professional learning opportunities, continuous improvement efforts, and research in support of quality digital, blended, and online learning. Before joining OLC, she was the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she led online and blended faculty development efforts, technology training for the digital learning ecosystem, and emerging technology exploration and evaluation, collaborating across the institution to support student learning and success. With a depth of experience leading global, national, and campus initiatives that support continuous improvement of digital, blended, and online learning, Dr. Weber has presented widely at conferences in the field, as well as published various blogs, reports, playbooks, and articles sharing her work. Dr. Weber holds a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education specializing in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis on designing engaging digital learning environments. Her research interests focus on the impact of technology on the learning environment and research-driven practices for effective digital, blended, and online learning, support, and leadership.
Dr. Eric Loepp is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches courses in American government, political behavior, and research methods. His disciplinary research focuses on candidate evaluations and electoral decision-making, particularly in primary elections. He also studies pedagogy, with an emphasis on data- and technology-enhanced teaching techniques. This work has been recognized with distinctions including the American Political Science Association’s CQ Press Award for Teaching Innovation and the Cisco/Presidio Teaching with Technology Innovator Award, and has been featured in such journals as Electoral Studies, the Journal of Political Science Education, the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, & Parties, Research & Politics, American Politics Research, and PS: Political Science & Politics.
H. Ray Keith currently serves as the Associate Director of Teaching and Learning at Achieving the Dream. He is a core member of Teaching & Learning team and will guide and accelerate evidence-based change at ATD institutions. In this role he is responsible for managing programs and projects designed to build institutional capacity supporting intentional integration, professional development, and engagement of full-time and part-time faculty in fostering inclusive, student-focused college cultures. Ray brings 25 years of professional experience in higher education, K–12, and nonprofit community-based organizations. At the core of his work is diversity, equity, and inclusion, while improving educational outcomes for students of color through practices that validate and affirm their cultures, identities, and lived experiences. His expertise includes leading institutional transformation, strategic planning, and advancing student success. As the associate dean of instructional intervention and support at a community college in Colorado, his department provided professional development and learning through a multi-pronged approach grounded in evidence/research-based and culturally responsive teaching and learning. Ray led the development of the college’s Center for Teaching and Learning in addition to establishing institutional initiatives and programs designed to eliminate equity gaps for the diverse student body at the college. Prior to joining higher education, he worked in K–12 as a high school administrator and college counselor. As the founder and CEO of E&A Educational Consulting he leads comprehensive instructional professional development and learning services to higher education and secondary educational institutions Ray has established a Community of Practice framework, Equity by Design Teaching Academies, a Department Chair Equity Academy, and an Equity by Design Leadership Academy at colleges in Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota. His research emphases are equity, inclusion, and social justice, culturally responsive pedagogy, persistence and retention, and academic success for historically marginalized and racialized populations. Mr. Keith holds a master's degree in Higher Education from the University of Denver and a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma City University.

Extended Abstract

With support from Every Learner Everywhere, the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and Achieving the Dream have partnered to study the organization, programming, and integration of high-impact professional learning practices in centers of teaching and learning and related professional learning support structures in institutions of higher education. This session will provide a sneak peek into how we designed the study to better understand the current state of professional development in higher education, as well as a few of our most interesting results and accompanying strategies instructional support professionals can leverage to advance work on their campuses before our publication officially releases in the new year!