The Instructional Design Team within Teaching & Learning Technologies (TLT) and University Libraries launched an exciting new faculty development program in the fall 2018 semester: the Teaching with Technology Certificate. This new program created an opportunity for faculty to take time out of their busy schedules to meet with other faculty and discuss innovative approaches to using technology to promote learning. Faculty were invited to apply in late spring 2018, and 15 of 65 applicants were selected from diverse backgrounds and departments to participate in the first cohort. Cohort faculty who attended 10 workshops, contributed to online Discussions, and gave one formal presentation at the end of semester Showcase of teaching innovations earned the "Certificate of Completion."
Who is behind the Teaching with Technology certificate program?
Instructional designers from Teaching & Learning Technologies, Lia Schraeder, Kathy Hanselman, and Wenzhen Li, are the creators and facilitators of this innovative program. Each of them brings years of university teaching experience, advanced degrees in instructional design, and additional certification in Quality Matters (a respected online learning organization).
The instructional designers regularly facilitated the weekly sessions but they also included faculty guest presenters when possible, including Chris Church in History and Pamela Sandstrom and Elena Provosudova in Biology. Topics of the weekly meetings allowed the facilitators and guests to share their expertise on topics that included course design for the flipped classroom and for inclusive instruction, effective use of online learning environments, active and collaborative learning with WebCampus tools and polling tools, deepening learning with digital projects and reflections, and assessment of learning with WebCampus tools and polling tools.
What is the vision driving the program?
The Instructional Design Team has an established history of helping Nevada faculty with the nuts and bolts of using WebCampus and other educational technology tools. When they initiated the Teaching with Technology Certificate in the fall 2018 semester, the team hoped to branch out into the area of faculty development and to better address faculty interest in discussion of why and how to integrate new technology to promote more effective teaching.
Schraeder said that because faculty often teach as they were taught, one goal of the program is to foster more of a research-based approach to teaching with technology.
"For example, we know from research that lectures are not always the best way to help students learn, though many faculty were themselves trained primarily by lecture," she said. "We help faculty find ways to use technology to make lectures more interesting but also to involve students in more active and collaborative forms of learning that are proven by research to be more effective."
Hanselman underscored the program's emphasis on student engagement by adding, "Our passion as facilitators is to help faculty present information in a way that grabs students' interest and gets them engaged with the material and with one another."
Li elaborated on why technology-focused instruction is also a top concern for the team.
"Sometimes faculty don't see the value of the technology tools in the classroom, but their students live in a technology-filled world," she said. "It is a fundamental part of their life. In order for our faculty to be relevant to students and help prepare them for the future, it is critical that technology is incorporated into instruction."
She was careful to clarify, however, the importance of intentional use of technology in teaching.
"We designed the program to help faculty set clear learning objectives and then to select the best technology tools to help support those established learning objectives, rather than using technology for technology sake," Li said.
Hanselman articulated one other important goal for the pilot program, which was to build a community of learning and inquiry among the faculty participants. "TLT designed the Teaching with
Technology program in the model of a ‘learning community,' where faculty could meet and engage with other faculty members to discuss how they actually use technology in the classroom and to share some of the challenges and successes they've experienced," Hanselman explained.
The benefits of the "learning community" and the program in general were confirmed by Jodie Barker, a faculty member from World Languages & Literature who completed the certificate in fall 2018.
"Everything about it was precious from the learning materials to the discussions, the presentations to the camaraderie. It was a once-in-a lifetime experience and I am grateful to have been a part of it."
What is the status of the program now?
Based on the success of the first cohort of the program, the team will continue the program this spring 2019 with a new group of faculty.
Li wrapped up the ongoing spirit of the program nicely, saying, "We know that faculty can't go it alone when trying to improve their teaching with technology. This is where the learning community and the TLT office is excited to provide needed support to faculty who are attempting to make changes in what they do to be more effective with their students."
All faculty who are teaching for credit courses are welcome to apply to the free of cost program. If you would like to learn more about the Teaching with Technology Certificate you can contact
Lia Schraeder via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 775-682-6798.
*McKenna Lambert, University Libraries marketing communications student assistant, contributed to this story.