Friday, September 28, 2007

Participating in a Faculty Learning Community

On campus professional development opportunities are not always readily available to library professionals in academics. Librarians may be faculty, non-tenured faculty, or staff, just to name a few possible ranks within the ivory tower. Librarians at Ashland are faculty (non-tenured) and as such may participate in various available professional development activities; this fall I have joined the Teaching with Technology Faculty Learning Community.

What is a Faculty Learning Community, or FLC? Beverly Heimann, Coordinator of Faculty Development at Ashland University, presented some background information on the concept of FLC's:

Developing Faculty and Professional Learning Communities (FLCs) to Transform Campus Culture for Learning

"A faculty learning community (FLC) is a group of trans-disciplinary faculty, graduate students and professional staff group of size 6-15 or more (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building. A participant in an FLC may select a focus course or project to try out innovations, assess resulting student learning, and prepare a course or project mini-portfolio to show the results; engage in biweekly seminars and some retreats; work with student associates; and present project results to the campus and at national conferences. Evidence shows that FLCs increase faculty interest in teaching and learning and provide safety and support for faculty to investigate, attempt, passes, and adopt new (to them) methods." (FLC: What are they, 9/28/07)

Ashland's Faculty Learning Community is topic-based, teaching with technology, and defined as:

"The Teaching with Technology Faculty Learning Community will be a cohortbased group of faculty who will be actively engaged in the exploration, discovery, and learning of how to best employ technology in teaching – whether it be in the traditional classroom or in virtual classrooms." (Faculty Learning Community, Ashland University)

There are currently two separate communities involved with teaching with technology, each has fifteen members (including the facilitators), pre-determined the topics to be discussed at an opening retreat held in August at the Shisler Center in Wooster, and scheduled six session dates to be held throughout the 2007-2008 academic year. My communities topics are:

  • Podcasting, Desktop Movies and TeacherTube/YouTube: Creating interactive videos and podcast of lectures, tutorials and informational sessions.
  • Blogs, Wikis & MySpace: Using popular free technologies to engage in reflective practice and develop critical writing skills.
  • PowerPoint and Beyond: Expanding the possibilities of the slide show.
  • SMART classroom technologies and it's assessment.
  • Creating web pages: Designing and uploading web pages on the Ashland server and free web servers (see also portfolios).
  • Enhancing the online experience with LMS and Web Conferencing.

In true learning community fashion, each member is responsible for leading and co-facilitating a session and highlighting hands-on learning during the meeting. Last week, September 28th, was the first official meeting and focused upon podcasting, video-casting, and tutorials with screen capturing software. By the end of the three hour session, each attendee had used a video camera, loaded the digital video onto computers, and had opportunity to edit and add voice to the video! A number of members were interested in creating movies out of existing presentations and we further explored saving PowerPoint presentations as individual photos (.jpeg and .gif) and importing them into Windows Movie Maker.

I started working with Camtasia, developing a tour of the "new" Instructional Resource Center Web Site to post on the IRC blog, with a secondary option of placing it on the "What's New" page. I am not quite finished as of yet, but hope to finish within the next week. Our next session is scheduled for November 2nd and I am looking forward to learning more about Wiki's and MySpace. Working as an adjunct instructor for the College of Education, increasing my technology skills is mandatory. As a librarian, many of these topics will be useful in the Library, Instructional Resource Center, and provide opportunity for increasing the usability of the Library web page.

Tags: Academic Librarian, Faculty Learning Communities, Teaching with Technology, Libraries & Technology

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