An AI Bot for the Teacher — with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

Artificial intelligence is the stuff of science fiction – if you are old enough, you will remember those Terminator movies a good few years ago, where mankind was systematically being wiped out by computers.

The truth is that AI, though not quite at Terminator level yet, is already a fact and something that most of us have encountered already. If you have ever used the virtual assistant on your phone or the Ask Google feature, you have used AI.

Some companies are using it as part of their sales and marketing strategies. An interesting example is Lowe’s Home Improvement that, instead of chatbots, uses actual robots into their physical stores. These robots are capable of helping customers locate products that they’re interested in, taking a lot of the guesswork out of the entire shopping experience.

Of course, there are a lot of different potential applications for AI that are very interesting. Imagine an AI teaching assistant, for example. They could help grade papers, fact check and assist with lesson planning, etc., all to make our harassed teachers’ lives a little easier.

Chatbots could be programmed as tutors to help kids better understand core topics if they are struggling with them, ensuring that they don’t hold the rest of the class up. And, for kids who have a real affinity with the subject, help them learn more about what they are interested in.

It could also help enhance long distance training.  Imagine if your students could get instant answers to basic questions through a simple chatbot. Sure, if they were still not getting it, they would come through to you – the chatbot cannot replace a real, live, teacher after all. But it could save you a lot of time and frustration.

Here, of course, we have only skimmed the surface of what artificial intelligence is capable of. Why not look through this infographic to see how different brands have been using this tech, and see what possible applications of it we might expect.

 

Brands that use AI to enhance marketing (infographic) 2018
From 16best.net with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

 

 

 

What online teachers have learned from teaching online — from insidehighered.com by Mark Lieberman
Online instructors offer wisdom they’ve gathered — what to do and what not to do — from years of experience teaching in the modality.

Excerpts:

When I first began teaching online, I noticed a disconnect between students and the course content. While I worked to make it relevant to their lives, I often saw students doing the work simply for the grade. Clearly something was not translating. In the last year, I’ve become more focused on helping students connect their passions to the course content. My courses still have objectives. However, I ask students when the semester starts to identify one to three goals and create a short video about what they want to achieve in the course. They reflect on these goals and can modify them at the midpoint and the end. During the semester, I ask students to consider what they are doing during the week to help them meet their goals. They don’t always need to share this information, but having this as a thread in the course helps them stay connected to the content and each other. Students are aware of what their colleagues’ goals are and often reach out and share ideas and resources in support. [Hall]


I also began to see that teaching online could support learner variability better than teaching in a classroom. I observed one student with dyslexia express herself eloquently in video, while her written expressions were fragmented. These experiences illuminated the value of Universal Design for Learning, opening a new world of opportunities for teaching online. [Brock]

I’ve been teaching online since 2008 and entirely online since 2013. When I first started teaching online, I was afraid to create new content or change the course in any way once the course launched. I thought the course curriculum and online environment had to stay “frozen” and intact or I would risk confusing students. Now, I create additional tutorials as needed, using screen-casting tools, videos and podcasts to add additional content to assist students. I have also since learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to online teaching and learning. Some students prefer basic content and straightforward assignments. Other students like to interact with the instructor through instant messaging, email and discussion boards. I started doing optional webinars for students who wanted more interaction and personalized learning, but I don’t require them. I find that the same group of online students in each course (who enjoy interaction) usually attend the webinars. The webinars are recorded for students who couldn’t attend or prefer the recording format.

Over all, I’ve learned to be more laid-back, multimodal (e.g., webinars, podcasts, etc.), proactive and flexible for my students.

Semingson

 

 

There need to be more active learning activities in an online course.

Greenlaw

 


In a typical class, students talk only to the instructor and each other. Resources, questions and information that are created and shared rarely transition to the next course. In true community, all students and instructors within a program could regularly access information and ideas in a shared space regardless of the content they are currently learning. [Hall]

There are numerous tools and strategies for interacting with students, like web-conferencing platforms, course audio and video tools, and collaborative tools that allow for synchronous or asynchronous interaction. There are simply more ways to communicate, to collaborate and to create. [Hobgood]

Insert from DSC:
Re: this last quote from Hobgood, I love this idea of creating an online-based community of practice — or community of inquiry — that spans across classes and semesters. Great call!

 

Efforts to improve student access to online courses are key, but we also know that equity gaps get worse when minority students learn online. We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Relationships are at the core of meaningful college experiences and they’re particularly important to underserved students who are more likely to doubt their academic abilities. Underserved online students need the presence of an engaged instructor. If you teach online, your human presence matters. This has been my greatest takeaway from 15 years of teaching online and, perhaps, more striking is that this point still seems revolutionary to so many.

Pacansky-Brock

 

 

 

Addendum:
7 Steps to Better Online Teaching — from chronicle.com by Esther C. Kim

Excerpt:

Provide suggestions for a strong classroom climate. At the start of the semester, I offer ways for students to stay engaged in an online classroom environment, and I explain the importance of remaining on camera and on audio. Without a proper explanation, students mistakenly think that they can multitask during live class sessions. Among the tips I offer them:

  • Refrain from opening email, texting, or browsing the web.
  • Choose a space where you don’t encounter distractions, which could include family members, laundry, dirty dishes, or a busy street outside your window.
  • Avoid sitting on a comfortable couch or bed.
  • Pay close attention to peers’ comments and ask yourself if you agree or disagree, and why. Add to the dialogue by sharing your thoughts.
  • Avoid taking class from coffee shops or other public spaces. The background noise can create a distraction both for you and for the entire class. Also, internet connections may be inconsistent in public spaces.

Don’t use the chat box when you can speak instead. On my university’s platform, there’s a chat box in which students can type messages in real time. This could be a useful tool if used properly. But I often find it difficult to simultaneously read the chat box while listening to a student who’s speaking. The same goes for when I am speaking and someone is typing comments or questions in the chat box. If there’s a robust dialogue happening among a few of the students and others want to interject, they can place their comments in the chat box. Otherwise, I ask that they take advantage of the face-to-face online time by verbalizing their questions or comments.

From DSC:
Esther’s point on how difficult it is to both read/respond to the chat area while also trying to listen to someone else speaking is a great example of cognitive load — and it being overwhelmed with too much information to process at one time.

 

 

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning— by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Some of the key points and learning strategies they mention in the preface:

  • The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive
  • Spaced repetition of key ideas and the interleaving of different but related topics are two excellent teaching/learning strategies

 

“This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. The responsibility for learning rests with every individual.”

 

 

Some the key points and learning strategies they mention in the first chapter:

  • When they talk about learning they mean acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.
  • There are some immutable aspects of learning that we can probably all agree on:
    1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is till there later when we need it.
    2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives.
    3. Learning is an acquired skill and most effective strategies are counterintuitive
  • Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful
  • We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not
  • Rereading text and massed practice (i.e., cramming) of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they”re also among the least productive. Rereading and cramming give rise to feeling of fluency that are taken to be signs of mastery, but for true mastery or durability these strategies are largely a waste of time.
  • Retrieval practice — recalling facts or concepts or events from memory — is a more effective learning strategy than reviewing by rereading
    • Flashcards are a simple example
    • Retrieval strengthens the memory and interrupts forgetting
    • A single simple quiz after reading a text or hearing a lecture produces better learning and remembering that rereading the text of reviewing lecture notes.
  • Periodic practice arrest forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain.
  • Space out practice and interleave the practice of 2 or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.
  • Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.
  • Learning styles are not supported by the empirical research.
  • When you’re adept at extracting the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, you’re more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations. This skill is better acquired through interleaved and varied practice than massed practice.
  • In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.
  • All learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.

 

If you practice elaboration, there’s no known limit to how much you can learn. Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know. The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.***

 

“When learning is hard, you’re doing important work.”

 

“Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.”

 

Learning is stronger when it matters.^^^

 

  • One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval — testing — to strengthen memory, and the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit.
  • The act of retrieving learning from memory has 2 profound benefits:
    1. It tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further study
    2. Recalling what you have learned causes your bring to reconsolidate the memory
  • To learn better and remember longer, [use]:
    • various forms of retrieval practice, such as low-stakes quizzing and self-testing
    • spacing out practice
    • interleaving the practice of different but related topics or skills
    • trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution
    • and distilling the underlying principles or rules that differentiate types of problems

 

One of the best habits a learner can instill in herself is regular self-quizzing to recalibrate her understanding of what she does and does not know. 

 

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014).
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

 

 

*** This quote reminds me of what turned Quin Schultze’ learning around. With Quin’s permission, the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36)

 

 

 

During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.

 

^^^ This quote explains why it is so important to answer the first question a learner asks when approaching a new lesson/topic/lecture/etc.:

  • Why is this topic relevant?
    i.e., why is this topic important and worthy of my time to learn it?

 

 

From DSC:
The simpler something is, the greater chance that it will be adopted. Think of HTML and how simple it was years ago for people to create and post their own web pages. I would argue that it was that level of simplicity that lead to the explosive growth of the World Wide Web. 

So when we look at what the term “flipped learning” or the “flipped classroom” is all about these days, I think we need to be careful that things don’t get too complex. Consider the growing complexity of the flipped classroom out at flr.flglobal.org/?p=417

Version 1.0 was easy to understand and therefore to implement. But Version 3.0 looks far less clear as to what we’re even talking about now. We need to find ways to keep it simple, if that’s possible. I realize that teaching and learning is messy, so I’m not sure it’s always possible to practice the KISS principle when we’re talking about pedagogies. But if we don’t try, we’ll have a harder time getting adoption in the future — because Instructional Designers, Teachers, Trainers, and Professors won’t even know what we’re talking about.

 

 

 

Robert Talbert gets at some of this too in his posting entitled, “Four challenges for flipped learning for the next five years.”  Below is an excerpt from that posting:

1. Build a standard operational definition of flipped learning.
One of the biggest challenges facing flipped learning is simply defining what it is. Several competing definitions, all with some overlap but also with nagging differences, are in use today, and this is making it all but impossible to conduct or interpret research on flipped learning or practice it with students. It’s to the point that if you hear an instructor say she uses “flipped learning”, you have to dig deeper to know what she really means.

So as the first challenge, and as a prerequisite to the others, I propose that somehow, we all come up with an operational definition of flipped learning that can serve as the standard for research and practice. I’ve already proposed my own. I’m not saying this should be the standard, but I think something like this could be the starting point. How will “we” decide on a standard, and who’s the “we”? I don’t know, but I think it will involve some group of people a high profile to lead the discussion and decide on one, and then start using it and labeling it as “the standard definition”.

Can other people use models of flipped learning, such as the in-class flipped model, that don’t conform to a standard definition? Sure. Who’s going to stop them? But we need a starting point

 

 

Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality in the Classroom — from chronicle.com by Adam Evans

Excerpt:

Armed with a lifelong affinity for video games and a $6,000 faculty teaching grant, I have spent the past 15 months working on a pilot project to illustrate the value of using virtual reality in the classroom. My goal is to convince fellow faculty members and administrators at Transylvania University, where I teach business administration, that VR can offer today’s tech-savvy students exciting opportunities to solve problems in new ways.

When I set up in-office demos for peers and students, they said they could not believe how immersive the technology felt. Expecting just another digital video game, they stepped into a dress rehearsal of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton or found themselves competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

There are major differences between virtual and augmented reality. The latter, which is less expensive to produce and already more prolific, is created by adding a digital element to the real world, such as a hologram one can view through a smartphone. Popular examples of this would be the Pokémon Go or the new Jurassic World Alive apps, which allow smartphone users to to find virtual characters that appear in physical locations. Users are still aware of the real space around them.

In contrast, virtual reality places the user inside a digitized world for a fully immersive experience. It generally costs more to design and typically requires more-expensive equipment, such as a full headset.

 

 

10 very cool augmented reality apps (that aren’t design or shopping tools) — from androidpolice.com by Taylor Kerns

Excerpt:

Augmented reality is having a moment on Android. Thanks to ARCore, which now works on more than a dozen device models—Google says that’s more than 100 million individual devices—we’ve seen a ton of new applications that insert virtual objects into our real surroundings. A lot of them are shopping and interior design apps, which makes sense—AR’s ability to make items appear in your home is a great way to see what a couch looks like in your living room without actually lugging it in there. But AR can do so much more. Here are 10 augmented reality apps that are useful, fascinating, or just plain cool.

 

 

 

The Wild and Amazing World of Augmented Reality — from askatechteacher.com by Jacqui Murray

Excerpt:

10 Ways to Use AR in the Classroom
I collected the best ways to use AR in the classroom from colleagues and edtech websites (like Edutopia) to provide a good overview of the depth and breadth of education now being addressed with AR-infused projects:

  • Book Reviews: Students record themselves giving a brief review of a novel that they just finished, and then attach digital information to a book. Afterward, anyone can scan the cover of the book and instantly access the review.
  • Classroom tour: Make a class picture image trigger a virtual tour of a classroom augmented reality
  • Faculty Photos: Display faculty photos where visitors can scan the image of an instructor and see it come to life with their background
  • Homework Mini-Lessons: Students scan homework to reveal information to help them solve a problem
  • Lab Safety: Put triggers around a science laboratory that students can scan to learn safety procedures
  • Parent Involvement: Record parents encouraging their child and attach a trigger image to the child’s desk
  • Requests: Trigger to a Google Form to request time with the teacher, librarian, or another professional
  • Sign Language Flashcards: Create flashcards that contain a video overlay showing how to sign a word or phrase
  • Word Walls: Students record themselves defining vocabulary words. Classmates scan them to get definitions and sentences using the word
  • Yearbooks: So many ways, just know AR will energize any yearbook

AR is the next great disruptive force in education. If your goal is to create lifelong learners inspired by knowledge, AR, in its infancy, holds the seeds for meeting that goal.

 

 

YouAR Out Of Stealth With AR Cloud Breakthrough — from forbes.com by Charlie Fink

Excerpt:

YouAR, of Portland, OR, is coming out of stealth with a product that addresses some of the most vexing problems in AR, including convergent cross-platform computer vision (real-time interaction between ARKit and ARCore devices), interactivity of multiple AR apps in the same location across devices, real-time scene mapping, geometric occlusion of digital objects, localization of devices beyond GPS (the AR Cloud), and the bundle drop of digital assets into remote locations. Together, this represents a heretofore unheard of stack of AR and computer vision features we have yet to see in AR, and could revolutionize the development of new apps.

 

 

 

12 Good Augmented Reality Apps to Use in Your Instruction — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

Augmented reality technologies are transforming the way we live, learn and interact with each other. They are creating limitless learning possibilities and are empowering learners with  the required know-how to get immersed in meaningful learning experiences. We have already reviewed several educational AR tools and apps and have also shared this collection of excellent TED talks on the educational potential of AR technologies. Drawing on these resources together with EdSurge list, we have prepared for you this updated collection of some of the best AR apps to use in your instruction. You may want to go through them and see which ones work  for you.

 

 

eXtended Reality (XR): How AR, VR, and MR are Extending Learning Opportunities | Resource list from educause

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Case for Inclusive Teaching — from chronicle.com by Kevin Gannon

Excerpt:

Inclusive teaching is not condescending or fake. Rather, it’s a realization that traditional pedagogical methods — traditionally applied — have not served all of our students well. It’s a commitment to put actual substance behind our cheerful declarations that all students deserve access to higher education. Mumbling about “snowflakes” accomplishes nothing but further entrenching ineffective and unskillful practices. The beauty of inclusive pedagogy is that, rather than making special accommodations that would decrease equity, it actually benefits all students, not just those at whose needs it was originally aimed.

So what is inclusive pedagogy? It is a mind-set, a teaching-and-learning worldview, more than a discrete set of techniques. But that mind-set does value specific practices which, research suggests, are effective for a mix of students. More specifically:

It values course design. Inclusive teaching asks us to critically examine not just the way we teach on a day-to-day basis, but the prep work and organization we do before the course begins. Does our course design — including assigned readings, assessments, and daily activities — reflect a diverse array of identities and perspectives? Am I having my students read a bunch of monographs, all authored by white males, for example? And if I am, what am I telling students about how knowledge is produced in my field, and more important, about who is producing it?

Even such quotidian practices as in-class videos or case studies ought to be examined. What types of people do my students see when they watch a video featuring an expert in my discipline? Do the experts look like my students? In my teaching, am I mostly relying on one pedagogical method, where I might be able to connect with a wider array of students by differentiating the types of instruction I use? What assumptions am I making about my students’ prior experiences and educational opportunities when I ask questions in class or design my exams?

It values discernment.

It values a sense of belonging.

 

 

 

 

Record numbers of college students are seeking treatment for depression and anxiety — but schools can’t keep up — from impactlab.net by Thomas Frey

Excerpt:

Spigner is one of a rapidly growing number of college students seeking mental health treatment on campuses facing an unprecedented demand for counseling services. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30% on average, while enrollment grew by less than 6%, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found in a 2015 report. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm, the center found. In spring 2017, nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.)

But most counseling centers are working with limited resources. The average university has one professional counselor for every 1,737 students — fewer than the minimum of one therapist for every 1,000 to 1,500 students recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services. Some counselors say they are experiencing “battle fatigue” and are overwhelmed by the increase in students asking for help. “It’s a very different job than it was 10 years ago,” says Lisa Adams Somerlot, president of the American College Counseling Association and director of counseling at the University of West Georgia.

As colleges try to meet the growing demand, some students are slipping through the cracks due to long waits for treatment and a lasting stigma associated with mental health issues. Even if students ask for and receive help, not all cases can be treated on campus. Many private-sector treatment programs are stepping in to fill that gap, at least for families who can afford steep fees that may rise above $10,000 and may not be covered by health insurance. But especially in rural areas, where options for off-campus care are limited, universities are feeling pressure to do more.

 

 

 

A Microlearning Framework — from jvsp.io and Pablo Navarro
This infographic is based on the experience of different clients from different industries in different training programs.

 

From DSC:
I thought this was a solid infographic and should prove to be useful for Instructional Designers, Faculty Members, and/or for Corporate Trainers as well. 

I might also consider adding a “Gotcha!” piece first — even before the welcome piece — in order to get the learner’s attention and to immediately answer the WHY question. WHY is this topic important and relevant to me? When topics are relevant to people, they care and engage a whole lot more with the content that’s about to be presented to them. Ideally, such a piece would stir some curiosity as well.

 

 

 

 

Why Professors Doubt Education Research — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpts:

You found that professors really care about their teaching, and yet they are skeptical of education research. It sounds like a lot of people ended up teaching the way that they had been taught, or the way that they felt good as a student in classes they had had.

That’s right. People sometimes ignore the research precisely because they care about teaching. Different faculty arrive at the point where they’re teaching college students from wildly different experiences of their own. Some have wanted since they were small children to be professors at a university, and some fell into it later in a career.

For faculty who think that research is a good way to learn how to teach, they will devour the literature on learning sciences. They’ll reach out to experts across a number of disciplines and within their own discipline to try and learn what the best way to teach is

For faculty who believe that teaching is an art, that it is just something that you develop with experience and time, that you can’t learn from a book, you need to learn by doing more or learn from your students, no amount of exposure to learning science research is going to disrupt their sense that this is something they learn by doing, or that they need to follow their gut on.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change someone’s mind to either adopt or consider more of this evidence-based research?

People can always change their perspective. If you’re trying to communicate the value of a technology or an approach, or even of learning science or education research as a field, you have to start with the person you’re speaking to. They may come to that conversation with a sense of, “I know that people get PhDs in education. People get PhDs in curriculum design, and I’ve never even taken a class where we’ve talked about curriculum design. I would like to know what they know.”

Then there are people who will say, “I’ve been teaching since I was a graduate student. My students are very happy with the teaching. I feel pretty good about my teaching. I understand that you have a PhD in curriculum design, but I don’t really need that.”

You need to approach those two different faculty members differently, understanding that there are some people who are interested in hearing about evidence-based practices, and just pointing them towards the resources is great.

Excerpt from the question:
What about your own teaching? I’m curious. Are you someone that tries different techniques that are based on research?

There is so much literature, and there are so many right ways, and there are so many recommendations that incorporating all of them into your practice at the same time is literally impossible. Many of them are contradictory. You have to choose a suite that you’re adhering to, because you can’t do the others if you’re doing these. Trying to embody best practices while teaching is really complex. It’s a skillset that you develop. You develop with time, and instruction, and you can master, but you’re always going to have to continue to perfect it.

 

 

Also see:

Personalized Faculty Development: Engaging Networks, Empowering Individuals — from er.educause.edu by Jill Leafstedt

Excerpts:

During the meeting, I chose to spend my time focused solely on sessions in the Faculty Development and Engagement track. My goal: return to my home campus energized and ready to tackle the age-old problem of how to move faculty from being content experts into dynamic educators.

Luckily for me, I was not the only one looking for this inspiration. The faculty development sessions were packed with people trying to answer questions such as, “Why don’t faculty want help?” or “Why don’t faculty attend my workshops?” On the whole, the sessions reaffirmed my belief that faculty development does not happen in a workshop, nor does it happen through training. Improving teaching is a long, messy, reflective process that must be approached from multiple angles with many entry points.

Sound challenging? It is, but there is reason to be hopeful; our colleagues are working hard to find and share answers. Two themes came through loud and clear from the sessions I attended. First, meet faculty where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you ready to learn; go to them and start where they are. Second, build networks for ongoing learning.

 

From DSC:
Both of the above articles present a HUGE issue in terms of improving the level of teaching and learning. Both articles seem to be saying that anyone interested in really improving the teaching and learning that’s going on needs to meet with each individual faculty member in order to meet them where they are at. When you have hundreds of faculty members plus an over-flowing job plate that’s asking you to wear numerous hats, that’s a very tall order indeed.

 

 

 

 

Who’s Teaching the Teachers? — from chronicle.com by Elizabeth Alsop

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Last fall, the academic career coach Jennifer Polk conducted an informal Twitter poll: How many of you, she asked her followers, received any meaningful pedagogical training during graduate school?

Replies ranged from the encouraging to the mostly dispiriting, with one doctoral candidate noting that the only training the program had offered took the form of “trial by fire.” Just 19 percent of the 2,248 respondents said they had received at least “decent” training — a number that, however unscientific, is also symptomatic.

This statistic reflects something that many of us could confirm firsthand: Teaching remains undervalued in the context of doctoral training and the profession at large. The result, by this anecdotal reckoning, is that less than one-fifth of aspiring college teachers are effectively taught how to teach.

The American Association of University Professors estimates that over 70 percent of all faculty positions are non-tenure-track, so these are teaching, not research, appointments.

Ennobling as such rhetorical constructs may be, they obscure not only the very real labor of teaching, but the fact that teaching is teachable: something that results not from divine, Dead Poets Society-like bursts of inspiration, but, as in other career fields, from study, apprenticeship, and practice. There are any number of books — including Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, John Bean’s Engaging Ideas, and Cathy Davidson’s The New Education — that offer excellent advice for college instructors.

It’s also worth noting that the resistance to addressing pedagogy in graduate education may be practical, as well as philosophical: Teaching someone to teach is hard. Like writing, teaching is a craft, learned not just in a single class, practicum, or workshop. Rather, it’s a recursive process, developed through trial and error — and yes, by “fire” — but also through conversation with others: a mentor, a cohort, your peers.

 

 

 

 

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