Autumn is conference season in the area of university teaching and teaching support. The annual conference of the Professional & Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD) was held on October 24 – 28, 2012 in Seattle, and the 32nd Annual Lilly Conference occurred on November 15 – 18 in Oxford, Ohio. As usual, most of the staff of UCAT attended POD and several of us also went to Lilly.
The POD meeting is the premier conference of teaching support professionals in North American, and UCAT staff members have been very involved for a long time. This year, we presented or co-presented two pre-conference workshops, and five concurrent sessions. Our former colleague Kathryn Plank is the President -elect of the association; Stephanie Rohdieck chairs the Graduate and Professional Development Committee, Teresa Johnson is active on the Professional Development Committee, Lindsay Bernhagen is an executive member of the Diversity Committee, and Alan Kalish is a former member of the Core Committee (Board of Directors).
There seem to be several themes in the sessions we attended across both conferences. We presented sessions on course design and supporting faculty in designing courses at both conferences. Others, including Dee Fink, author of Creating Significant Learning Experiences, and Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design, and a team from Kent State, Suffolk University, and the University of Virginia, presented on why design of learning experiences is crucial, as well as discussing how they help their colleagues learn and apply design skills.
Other very common theme was finding appropriate ways to use technology to support learning. MOOCs were often mentioned, but not much was actually said. “Flipping the Classroom” was also a common topic, and one that was more fruitfully discussed. While we have been advocating for using class time for more active learning for a long time, it seems that newly available technology for presenting content to students outside of class in a way that they will actually engage with it before coming to class is changing how we think about the relationship of in-class and out-of-class time. Watch for our upcoming Spring Semester newsletter for more on this topic!
While there were many other interesting conversations at these conferences, these two ideas on the importance of design and of expanding the means of delivery were the two that resonated most. Feel free to contact UCAT if you’d like to further discuss these or any other ideas about teaching.