Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pedagogical approaches to integrative learning

The process of teaching requires faculty “to teach well, to engage students, and to foster important forms of student learning” (Hutchings and Shulman, 1999, p. 13). To fulfill this goal, faculty should focus on developing an integrative approach to teaching. An integrative learning environment focuses on blending and extending one course seamlessly into another course. Integrative learning blends perspectives “from disciplines, cultures, subcultures [and] life experiences” (Klein, 2005, p. 9). Integrative learning provides an active learning environment, creates opportunities for deeper learning and can engage students regardless of learning style (Chickering and Gamson, 1987).

To define integrative learning is easier accomplished by characterizing educational opportunities. Students who connect skills, content from multiple sources are integrating learning; applying knowledge from one discipline to another reinforces both disciplines and extends the disciplines equally as well; integrative learning occurs during the process of learning not as a result of learning (Huber and Hutchings, 2004).

Typical courses focus on learning “discrete, unconnected chunks” (Huber, Hutchings and Gale, 2005, p. 6). This focus, while economical for course design, development and delivery, does not typically provide students with the materials, experience or exposure to the broader connections of knowledge (Glaser, 1984). This narrow focus does not adequately prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s workforce (National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, 2007). It should become evident that, to promote active learning, students should be challenged to think about course content in new and different ways and to make connections both within courses, experiences, and other courses.

Faculty must think of the learning that occurs after the course has ended. If they have adequately taught the content, students will be searching and making connections to other courses. Courses in this sense never fully answer the discipline specific questions, the students will be seeking answers and continually integrating old knowledge into newer knowledge (Chickering and Gamson, 1987; Huber and Hutchings, 2004). In this approach, faculty and colleges will “help students make connections across learning experiences and over time” (Shi, 2006, p. 4). Students will become lifelong learners and continually add to their own knowledge worth by exploring new ways to learn and connect and extend their knowledge.

Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin 39(7), 3-7.

Glaser, R. (1984). Education and thinking: The role of knowledge. American Psychologist 39(2), 93-104.

Huber, M., & Hutchings, P. (2004). Integrative learning: Mapping the terrain. Washington, DC: The Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/dynamic/publications/elibrary_pdf_636.pdf.

Huber, M., Hutchings, P., & Gale, R. (2005). Integrative learning for liberal education. Peer Review 7(4), 4-7.

Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. (1999). The scholarship of teaching. Change 31(5), 10-15.

Klein, J. (2005). Integrative learning and interdisciplinary studies. Peer Review 7(4), 8-10.

National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. (2007). College learning for the new global century. Washington, DC: The Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from http://www.aacu.org/advocacy/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_final.pdf.

Shi, D. (2006). Technology and integrative learning: Enabling serendipitous connectivity across courses. Peer Review 8(4), 4-7.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Promoting Faculty and Adjunct Faculty Professional Development: An Open Dialogue

Promoting faculty development, and more specifically adjunct or part-time faculty, within the community college system requires a systematic approach to ensure success. Faculty development must focus on developing those who are charged with teaching. Successful faculty professional development should include community building, professional and personal growth and recognition and appreciation (Oromaner, 1998; Wallin, 2006) and focus on improving faculty as teachers, regardless of their discipline (Chickering and Gamson, 1987). Regardless of the structure of professional development, the most effective element is a contextual approach, meeting the immediate needs with immediate solutions (Watts and Hammons, 2002). Likewise, professional development should be available, regardless of delivery method, and reinforce the mission and goals of the institution (Stern, 2003).

One element in professional development that shapes and directly influences and impacts the success is the ability of faculty members to become critically reflective. To teach, or more specifically, to become a better teacher requires us all to stop and examine what worked, and what did not work as envisioned. Brookfield (1995) stated that “we have available four lenses through which we can view our teaching” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 29). The four lenses are “(1) our autobiographies as teachers and learners, (2) our students’ eyes, (3) our colleagues’ experiences, and (4) theoretical literature” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 29).

As faculty, we look at what we do through the perspective of a student. We listen to and observe our students. We often seek the advice from peers, and may observe them in the classroom. We read pedagogical literature in our discipline to stay abreast of current teaching strategies. Through each lens, we may see opportunities for professional development and growth. It is through the reflective process that we have the opportunity for growth, improvement and professional development.

Rather than dwell on topics that cannot be directly related back to teaching and learning, the program should be relevant for both the novice and the experienced community college faculty member. The topics should provide a holistic approach to teaching and learning and not focus on unique discipline aspects with potential limited impact (Watts and Hammons, 2002). The program should be well rounded and well grounded in contemporary pedagogical approaches (Schuetz, 2002). Topics for professional development should contribute to success professionally, personally, and institutionally (Hilsen and Wadsworth, 2002).

An overall approach must be both supported institutionally and acknowledged as contributing to the overall success of the faculty member, the academic units, the institution, the students and all stakeholders. From an institutional perspective, professional development programs for both faculty and adjunct faculty must “cross divisional lines [and be] responsive to [the] mission and all of [the] employee groups” (Oromaner, 1998, p. 5). Any formalized or non-structured program should have a focus and goals that align with overall institutional goals and strategic plans (Murray, 2002).

The success of the faculty professional development rests with those who are responsible for the design, development and delivery, with the faculty who attend and implement or modify their practices, with the institution to ensure the emphasis is placed on professional development and ultimately with the students who are the indirect recipients of successful faculty development (Murray, 2002). Professional development for faculty, and adjunct faculty, should address the four functions from Boyer (1990), “the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching” (Boyer, 1990, p. 16). Professional development should meet the needs of local faculty and connect faculty to faculty with the overall goal of improving teaching and learning (Fink, 2002).

Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate: A special report. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin 39(7), 3-7.

Fink, L. (2002). Establishing an instructional development program: An example. In K. H. Gillespie (Ed.), L. R. Hilsen and E. C. Wadsworth (Associate Eds.), A guide to faculty development: Practical advice, examples, and resources (pp. 35-44). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Hilsen, L., & Wadsworth, E. (2002). Staging successful workshops. In K. H. Gillespie (Ed.), L. R. Hilsen and E. C. Wadsworth (Associate Eds.), A guide to faculty development: Practical advice, examples, and resources (pp. 108-122). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Murray, J. (2002). The current state of faculty development in two-year colleges. In C. L. Outcalt (Vol. Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges. New directions for community colleges. Number 118. (pp. 89-97). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Oromaner, M. (1998). Faculty and staff development. Los Angeles, CA: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED416941). Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/2a/2a/e0.pdf.

Schuetz, P. (2002). Instructional practices of part-time and full-time faculty. In C. L. Outcalt (Vol. Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges. New directions for community colleges. Number 118. (pp. 39-46). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stern, S. (2003). Professional development: Leading organizational change in community colleges. Los Angeles, CA: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED477912). Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/2a/39/9c.pdf.

Wallin, D. (2006). Short-term leadership development: Meeting a need for emerging community college leaders. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 30(7), 513-528.

Watts, G., & Hammons, J. (2002). Leadership development for the next generation. In G. E. Watts (Vol. Ed.), Enhancing community colleges through professional development. New directions for community colleges. Number 120. (pp. 59-66). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blogs and wikis

Blogs and wikis are changing how students learn, and eventually will change how we teach. Blogs and wikis are examples of tools or “social writing platforms” (Alexander, 2006, p. 36) to promote writing, reading, critical reflective thinking, and the potential for collaboration. Blogs are a more structured format. By structure, the blogs are a journal of sorts, with postings and comments arranged in a reverse date format. According to Alexander, “blogs are about posts, not pages” (Alexander, 2006, p. 33). Wikis, on the other hand, have the possibility of having great structure or almost no structure visible. The wiki is an example of a brainstorming or concept mapping application (Lamb, 2004) where the structure is not as critical as the communication of ideas and thoughts. Wikis, in Alexander’s view “are streams of conversation, revision, amendment, and truncation” (Alexander, 2006, p. 33).

Blogs could easily be adapted for uses in courses or opportunities to demonstrate reflection, and process (Downes, 2004). Blogs provide instructors the means to communicate with students in an almost conversational tone by their postings, and comments. Improving the opportunities for interaction with the instructor and other students (Moore, 1989), blogging can effectively reduce the potential isolation for the distant student.

Wikis would be appropriate for developmental writing or collaborative writing (Lamb, 2004). A shared space, like a wiki, becomes the virtual coffee house, where ideas can be freely exchanged, conversational threads can be developed, explored and altered as the conversation or dialogue matures.

Both provide opportunities for developing and honing composition skills, focusing on written communication, editing, and revision (Alexander, 2006).

Alexander, B. (2006). “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” Educause Review 41(2), 32-44. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0621.pdf.

Downes, S. (2004). “Educational blogging.” Educause Review 39(5), 14-26. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf.

Lamb, B. (2004). “Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not.” Educause Review 39(5), 36-48. Retrieved September 26, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0452.pdf.

Moore. M. (1989). "Editorial: Three types of interaction." The American Journal of Distance Education 3(2), 1-6.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Transparent technology

The transparent nature of technology is a result of the changes in student population. Students are more familiar with technology and are increasing in technological competency (Oblinger, 2003). As educators, we must attempt to integrate technology into teaching and do it in a way that does not draw undue attention to the technology (Wargo, 2006). Transparent technology is used to impact and improve student learning (Parsons and DeLucia, 2005). The terms transparent technology, ubiquitous computing and pervasive computing are used synonymously through the literature (Brown, Burg and Dominick, 1998) and imply that it is not the technology itself that impacts teaching and learning, but the instructional methods that use the technology (Brown and Petitto, 2003). Thus, technology is transparent to the learning.

Brown, D., Burg, J., & Dominick, J. (1998). A strategic plan for ubiquitous laptop computing. Communications of the ACM 41(1), 26-35.

Brown, D., & Petitto, K. (2003). The state of ubiquitous computing. Educause Review 38(3), 24-33. Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0331.pdf.

Oblinger, D. (2003). Boomers, gen-xers and millennials: Understanding the new students. Educause Review 38(4), 36-47. Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0342.pdf.

Parsons, C., DeLucia, J. (2005). Decision making in the process of differentiation. Learning and Leading with Technology 33(1), 8-10.

Wargo, E. (2006). No data left behind. Learning and Leading with Technology 33(5), 22-25.

Thoughts on technology and teaching

Imagine a learning space where access to technology is not confined to a physical location. Access to computing resources and internet connectivity should be a commonplace occurrence, and not an infrequent activity (Brown, Burg and Dominick, 1998; Brown, 2003). Learning occurs more often within spaces outside of the classroom and at times other than scheduled class periods. Ubiquitous and pervasive access to resources should be equally as fluid, flexible and transparent (Brown and Petitto, 2003; Moquin and Travis, 1999). Institutions must be bold and flexible in creating, growing and supporting the technological infrastructure to allow for access anywhere and anytime (Duderstadt, Atkins and Van Houweling, 2003)

Imagine a learning space where technology is so transparent, so pervasive and so ubiquitous that learners are more focused on learning with technology than learning how to use technology (Westera, 2004). Technology should not be viewed as the driver of education, but an option to provide quality educational opportunities to all (Brown, 2003). Through the careful and deliberate integration of technology into the teaching and learning spaces, we are now able to tap into a wealth of information (and multimedia) that was previously untouchable and out of reach (Green, 1999; Moquin and Travis, 1999). Instructional technology, or information technology, must become a partner and provide, support, encourage, facilitate and fund transformations of teaching that integrate technology into teaching and learning (Duderstadt, Atkins and Van Houweling, 2003).

Imagine a learning space that can easily be reconfigured without technological limitations or restrictions (Moquin and Travis, 1999). Not only should the physical or virtual space be mobile and flexible, the content that is delivered should be flexible and provide learners opportunities for personalized training and growth (Brown and Petitto, 2003). The central focus of a university, learning, is constantly adapting to new curriculum and other physical elements and should be equally adept in adapting to new technologies (Masi and Winer, 2005). Institutions should actively engage both technology and pedagogy in the design and development of learning spaces that promote and positively impact learning (Duderstadt, Atkins and Van Houweling, 2003).

Imagine a learning space that creates and fosters collaboration using technology to facilitate the process rather than direct or control the process. Collaboration between and across traditional stakeholders in all aspects of teaching and learning can produce the need, desire, direction and suggestions for improvement (Brown, Burg and Dominick, 1998). This form of collaboration can lead to and contribute to personal, professional and institutional development (Lanicci, 2002). Institutions should model technological collaborations, information dissemination and communications to acknowledge the efficiency of technology in institutional growth and development (Duderstadt, Atkins and Van Houweling, 2003).

Imagine a learning space that produces technologically skilled and proficient workers. Training and skill development should be thought of as an integrated part of the curriculum, where students, faculty and staff have the resources, assets and opportunities to learn (Brown and Petitto, 2003). Technological literacy is fast becoming an expectation of and for all stakeholders and providing the training and support to become technologically literate should be commonplace (Brown, Burg and Dominick, 1998; Westera, 2004). Institutions should invest in the human capital improvement by providing common software, platforms and training for all stakeholders (Duderstadt, Atkins and Van Houweling, 2003).

Brown, D., Burg, J., & Dominick, J. (1998). A strategic plan for ubiquitous laptop computing. Communications of the ACM 41(1), 26-35.

Brown, D. (2003). The ubiquitous computing movement. In D. G. Brown (Ed.), Ubiquitous computing: The universal use of computers on college campuses (pp. 1-13). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Brown, D., & Petitto, K. (2003). The state of ubiquitous computing. Educause Review 38(3), 24-33. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0331.pdf.

Duderstadt, J., Atkins, D., & Van Houweling, D. (2003). The development of institutional strategies. Educause Review 38(3), 48-58. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0333.pdf.

Green, K. (1999). When wishes come true: Colleges and the convergence of access, lifelong learning and technology. Change 31(2), 10-15.

Lanicci, J. (2002). A concept model for integrating IT into education. Educause Quarterly 25(1), 46-49. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0218.pdf.

Masi, A., & Winer, L. (2005). A university-wide vision of teaching and learning with information technologies. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 42(2), 147-155.

Moquin, B., & Travis, J. (1999). Community colleges on the highway: Major issues for technology planning. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 23(2), 147-159.

Westera, W. (2004). On strategies of educational innovation: Between substitution and transformation. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning 47(4), 501-517.

Library as learning resource center or learning space

The traditional view of the library “as a visual anchor for the surrounding buildings on campus” was appropriate before the advent of technology (Freeman, 2005, p. 1). However the technology has evolved, the library must now be more than a collection of books, a repository of knowledge. This paradigm shift will cause not only the focus of the library to change, but the use of the space to change (Campbell, 2006). It must now be a space where learners gather, work, collaborate and reflect on information.

The college library or learning resource center is returning to it’s role “as an institution of learning, culture, and intellectual community” (Demas, 2005, p. 25). The perceptions of users must now focus on the library as a portal to knowledge, rather than a portal of knowledge. This shift of perception, whether created by technology, or as a result of the presence of technology, must be completed to link information to the act of learning (Lippincott, 2006). The library must now be the “centralized location where new and emerging information technologies can be combined with traditional knowledge resources in a user-focused, service-rich environment that supports today’s social and educational patterns of learning, teaching, and research” (Freeman, 2005, p. 3). The library, or learning resource center, must become the place where people, learners, want to go to work and learn, together.

Learning is now a collaborative activity, involving and including what were typically viewed as print resources, now digital resources, technology and a group of learners. Creating physical spaces where access to resources both print and digital and the physical space where groups can work together, learn together and produce materials is now one clear direction for academic libraries (Bennett, 2003).

Bennett, S. (2003). Libraries designed for learning. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub122/pub122web.pdf.

Campbell, J. (2006). Changing a cultural icon: The academic library as a virtual destination. Educause Review 41(1), 16-30. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0610.pdf.

Demas, S. (2005). From the ashes of Alexandria: What’s happening in the college library. In Council on Library and Information Resources, Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space (pp. 25-40). Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub129/pub129.pdf.

Freeman, G. (2005). The library as place: Changes in learning patterns, collections, technology, and use. In Council on Library and Information Resources, Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space (pp. 1-9). Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub129/pub129.pdf.

Lippincott, J. (2006). Linking the information commons to learning. In D. Oblinger (Ed.), Learning Spaces (pp. 7.1-7.18). Washington, DC: Educause. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/PUB7102g.pdf.

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