Tech is quickly changing teaching and learning. Here are some strategies to help faculty stay on the cutting edge.
Faculty engagement in teaching and learning is more important now than ever.
Technology is changing things and the rate of change is only increasing. Today, there are more tools available to instructors that they can use to transform teaching for the better, and there’s increasing pressure on them to incorporate those tools into the learning process.
Technology is entrenched in students’ lives—they like it and want more of it. And when it comes to using new tech tools and resources in learning, their expectations are high.
According to a 2015 Educause ECAR survey:
- Approximately 60% of students said they wished faculty used a learning management system more.
- The same number wished faculty used laptops more in class.
- Over 50% of students said they wanted instructors to use more online collaboration tools.
- Just under 50% wanted to see faculty use more e-books or e-textbooks.
The Educause study demonstrates a disconnect between students’ technological expectations and what faculty are actually putting into practice in classrooms, lecture halls and, increasingly, online and blended learning environments.
If faculties don’t stay abreast of the latest tech-enabled tools, and if institutions don’t empower them to do so, they run the risk of losing students to institutions that do.
A fully engaged faculty uses all the tools available to it in the best way possible to optimize the teaching experience.
Here are some key strategies that institutions can use to keep faculty fully engaged:
Build awareness. A lot of people might not be comfortable with technology so they shy away from it. They feel like they don’t have time to teach themselves and don’t have time to explore on their own. Informing, educating and training faculty around new technologies is important.
Conduct faculty surveys and SWOT analyses. Use surveys to ask faculty for feedback on where they feel they are when it comes to using tech in the teaching experience. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) can help them to identify where they feel like they have strengths or where they feel like they have gaps and weaknesses so a plan can be tailored to optimize their experience.
Create a teaching and learning center. Having instructor-focused resources is important. Those resources could include teaching and learning resources like instructional design support or just basic technical support. Having somebody to speak to campus or institutional policies is also important. For K-12, those resources could include district-level support staff.
Standardize the teaching experience. Providing standardized course templates that teachers can build from can be helpful. It’s not about eliminating freedom from teaching, it’s about providing a starting point that lifts the burden around instructional design. This could also involve having an instructional designer or courseware developer sit with the teacher to help them build out a course based on the teacher’s knowledge.
Have generally accessible software. Just like there are many different types of learner, there are many different types of instructor. Learning platforms and content should be easily accessible to all instructors.
Here’s how Brightspace’s new Daylight experience presents information in the best way possible and lets instructors access their courses from any device:
Create shared resources. Discussion forums or e-portfolio artifacts are examples of how instructors can share things with one another and ask questions of peers to develop the faculty community. Community and collaboration help instructors stay engaged with each other.
Provide professional development opportunities. Helping faculty stay current with tech-related skills and tools is a continual need. If you’re using a learning environment, for example, educating or raising awareness with faculty around updates and new features and functionality as they’re released is very important.