In its first year of operation, the recently launched Collaborative for Learning and Teaching has already provided physical space and a context to promote pedagogical innovation among the Trinity faculty. The Collaborative is the primary site for faculty members to talk about their teaching and to engage in peer-to-peer professional development to support student learning. By hosting workshops, awarding course design grants, and promoting the cross-fertilization of ideas across the disciplines, the Collaborative is poised to significantly contribute to the quality of teaching and learning on campus in the years to come.
Academic Technology (AT) will support and integrate multimedia resources for the Trinity community. AT staff members will engage with faculty in various academic programs to understand pedagogical goals and the role that technology should play as campus facilities are continually upgraded and new spaces are designed. In collaboration with faculty librarians, AT staff will provide training and support to faculty who use smart classrooms and other forms of technology in their teaching.
Since its launch in 2013, the Collaborative for Learning and Teaching has become a nexus for faculty development at Trinity University. Adding to a robust line-up of programs including interactive workshops, book clubs, writing groups, and course revision grants, during the 2018-19 academic year, the Collaborative sponsored its first Faculty Learning Community (FLC), a faculty-driven seminar with colleagues from across disciplines.
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the inaugural FLC focused on digital literacy, one of the signature features of Trinity’s Pathways curriculum. “The group met regularly throughout the academic year with the goal of achieving a concrete ‘deliverable,’ which, for many faculty, took the form of an assignment that they could incorporate into one of their existing or future courses,” says Thomas E. Jenkins, professor of classical studies and director of the Collaborative. “In fact, some faculty participants have already begun to develop entire course revisions based on what they learned in the FLC,” added Jenkins.
Focusing on digital literacy allowed faculty to consider the ethical and effective deployment of technology to further the acquisition of knowledge, in any discipline. The participants—more than 30 across the year—devised the group’s list of readings, invited speakers, and selected topics for workshops, including Graphical Information Systems (GIS), virtual reality (VR), digital text annotation, and more. The Collaborative provided a digital ‘toolbox’ for all readings, resources, and assignments.
Patrick Keating, professor of communication and a participant in the FLC praised the experience. “We got to experience several cutting edge digital technologies first hand, including virtual reality goggles that allowed us to step inside other worlds,” Keating says. “I imagined how to use this in my film studies courses and to hear how my colleagues were adapting the technology to their courses.”
Based on the positive feedback from participants, the Collaborative is already planning future FLCs. In Fall 2019, the Collaborative will offer an FLC on oral and visual communication (OVC), another key element of Pathways. It will also expand its programming to include a new Collaborative Institute, on the technique of “gamification,” an innovative approach to student learning and assessment.
“Trinity’s faculty have demonstrated time and time again that they are willing to go the extra mile to serve students and adopt strategies and approaches,” Jenkins says. “It is especially exciting to see how many early-career faculty got involved.”
Trinity’s Collaborative for Learning and Teaching provides workshops and seminars to the Trinity faculty and staff that highlight recent advancements in pedagogical practices. These workshops are hosted by experts from both inside and outside of Trinity.
“Often the Collaborative is the first place that faculty hear about innovations outside of their field that also touch on all aspects of higher education,” says Tom Jenkins, director for the Collaborative for Learning and Teaching. High Noon lunches, hosted by the Collaborative, allow for quick exchanges of ideas between faculty throughout the academic year and are a staple of the program.
The Collaborative is evolving, constanting looking for new innovation. “This year we are starting an FLC (faculty learning community) that focuses on digital literacy, with breakfast meetings throughout the year. The goal is to foster assignments that dovetail with Trinity’s new Pathways curriculum,” Jenkins says. Other new programs within the Collaborative are Polyglot Poetry Reading, Tigers as Partners, and ¡Hola San, Antonio!, which all aim to improve the classroom experience for Trinity students.
“I am been most excited by the real engagement of Trinity faculty with the programs of the Collaborative: Far from ‘coasting,’ Trinity faculty continue to burnish their skills as teachers and mentors,” Jenkins says. “This is especially essential as higher education — and higher learning — continues to incorporate new technologies, and we in the Collaborative look forward to being the first point of contact for those new fields.”