Having the right resources in place to support faculty in higher education has many benefits. It can both help faculty foster personal growth and develop connections with their peers and make their teaching experience better overall.
With faculty burnout on the rise in higher ed, it’s even more important for faculty to have places to turn if they start to feel their passion for teaching diminishing.
One of the ways faculty can build a system of support is through community groups, like professional development groups, faculty learning communities (FLCs) or online communities of peers. In this blog post, we’ll highlight a few different offerings in these groups.
Professional Development Groups
One area of focus for FLCs is professional development groups, which bring together faculty, staff and admin in higher education for professional betterment. Depending on how educators would like to grow professionally, a variety of opportunities exist to meet demands. Some professional development groups include:
Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network — Since 1976, the POD Network has been focused on “improving teaching and learning in higher education,” and supporting its members through content and conferences to provide consultative and networking opportunities.
National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NFCDD) — Members of the NCFDD benefit from educationally based content like courses, webinars, workshops, podcasts and more. This group aims to help educators improve their research and work-life balance.
Higher Education Resources Services (HERS) — The HERS: Women in Higher Education Leadership Program focuses on progressing the careers of those identifying as women with a focus on leadership. HERS accomplishes this goal by providing participants with valuable programs, services and research.
Faculty Learning Communities
To help broaden their understanding or scope of knowledge, instructors can join a faculty learning community. Often supported at an institutional level, these communities provide a space for smaller groups of faculty to explore a specific topic over the course of a term or academic year.
Guidelines can vary from institution to institution, but most FLCs must be applied for and approved by the institution, are led by a chair to help guide the group and can consist of members from faculty in different departments as well as graduate or doctoral students. The following are examples of institutions that have FLCs:
Grand Valley State University — This Michigan-based institution has supported FLCs for over 10 years. This year, some topics these groups will cover include becoming a student-ready college, the real world of college and emotional labor.
University of Richmond — The FLCs at this institution promote collaboration across programs and departments. Examples of past FLCs include Asian and Asian American studies, intellectual activism and academia, and disability culture, pedagogy and theory.
Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute — This institution in Maryland has a focus on music. Some of the FLCs explored this year include teaching and learning online, technology in piano instruction and connecting theory through leading voices.
Taking advantage of the online realm is another way faculty can connect with peers and like-minded individuals. Online community groups vary in topic and can provide resources to faculty who may be struggling with adapting to new technology, or a place to connect with others and have a bit of fun. Some examples of online communities in higher education are:
Online Learning Consortium (OLC) — This group consists of a community of professionals in higher education who are striving to provide quality and engaging online learning. The OLC hosts a variety of workshops, webinars and certificate programs alongside two in-person conferences.
- Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) — This group has a focus on promoting competency-based learning in postsecondary education. Members gain access to research findings, discounts on workshops, seminars and events, and access to a network of like-minded peers.
WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies — The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) connects people across the higher education landscape to progress the policy, practice and advocacy of digital learning. Members get access to resources, an online community, events and more.
Finding Support for Faculty
To ensure faculty continue to pursue their passion for teaching, it’s important to make sure they feel supported. Carving out the time and resources to keep faculty engaged with their research and developing new skills will help them prosper.
Professional development and faculty learning groups are a great way for instructors to feel connected with their peers and grow their careers.
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Kari is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L who focuses on the world of corporate learning. She enjoys using her research, reporting, writing and multimedia skills to tell impactful stories.
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