Notes from a teaching developer conference 1: Mark Federman’s Keynote – Trevor Holmes

Several CTE staff members have been at EDC 2009, this year’s iteration of a conference specifically for Educational Developers. It’s a lively group, full of helpful people who prefer to collaborate and share (rather than compete and hoard). After the usual welcoming remarks and housekeeping notes, we had the unusual experience of dramatic readings from two publications (Making a Difference and Silences, both projects of the 3M Teaching Fellows’ Council of our parent organisation, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education). Continue reading Notes from a teaching developer conference 1: Mark Federman’s Keynote – Trevor Holmes

The FLEX Lab: Facilitating Innovative Teaching and Learning – Marta Bailey

What is the FLEX Lab? The Flexible Learning EXperience Lab is a unique learning space whose primary mission is to support innovation in teaching and learning. Located on the third floor of the Dana Porter Library, the FLEX Lab comes equipped with twenty wireless Tablet PC computers, two wireless data projectors (one on each end of the room), a document camera, Continue reading The FLEX Lab: Facilitating Innovative Teaching and Learning – Marta Bailey

Starting 2009 with a revised Mission Statement – Trevor Holmes

CTE staff “retreated” for a couple of days last October, and one of the results was a collaboratively revised Mission Statement:

The Centre for Teaching Excellence provides leadership in advancing skilful , informed, and reflective teaching.

Three teams of staff members then fleshed out what each adjective really means, and we all came together to finalize language that would then go more “public”:

Skilful teaching involves what we as teachers do, say, or make happen in order to improve learning. Skilful teaching can be learned and taught, acquired and honed. A skilful teacher also recognizes when and why to modify an approach.

Informed teaching involved openness toward new ways of approaching teaching, and a willingness to adjust practice based upon what we learn by listening to students and through discussions with colleagues. Informed teaching is scholarly. It draws on current research and contributes to disciplinary practice in higher education.

Reflective teaching is an iterative process that involves developing an awareness of what we do as teachers, why we make the choices we do, and how our choices impact students’ learning. By examining and sharing our successes and challenges with the larger teaching community, we contribute to an ongoing dialogue about teaching and learning, and extend our own learning and development as teachers.

Feedback on our new Mission Statement is welcome — as always, you can use the Comments feature of this blog to comment publicly, or you can send comments and suggestions to our Director, Dr. Catherine Schryer.

Blog: A four-letter word – Mark Morton

The word ‘blog’ was invented in 1999 as a shortened form of ‘web log.’ Since then, blogs have increased exponentially in number. Many blogs are created and abandoned after a few weeks while others have thrived for years. Most blogs are read by a small number of people but a few — such as the Huffington Post, a political blog — is read by more than a million people each month. In higher education, blogs have also come into their own: blogs by Stephen Downes and Will Richardson are read by thousands of educators around the world.

So, if there are so many blogs — good ones and bad ones — out there already, why create another one? Well, here at the Centre for Teaching Excellence, we think that a blog will help us communicate ideas and issues pertaining to teaching in a timely and (dare I hope) lively manner, ideas and issues that will be of special interest to the University of Waterloo instructors who make up our target audience. Our centre already has a newsletter that does an excellent job of presenting a round-up of news and events pertaining to teaching, but it only comes out once a term. This blog, as we see it, will be more dynamic, responsive, opinionated, and colourful — a kind of crazy uncle to our more sober newsletter. We hope to share new research and best practices pertaining to teaching, but we also hope to inspire engaged debate — because that, surely, is at the heart of all learning.

By the way, here’s a link to an interesting post on another blog entitled “The Arrogance of Blogging.”