Technology & Faculty Development
An update from the Center for Teaching & Learning
Eva Fernández • August 23, 2011
The central mission of the Queens College Center for Teaching & Learning is to recognize, promote, and sustain the quality of teaching and learning at Queens College. Technology fits directly into this mission, as the slogan I’m proposing suggests. Promoting and supporting technology-mediated teaching results in deep engagement, from faculty and students, in matters of teaching and learning.
This electronic hand-out contains some information to supplement my brief presentation at the President's retreat on August 23. The focus of the presentation is a handful of initiatives rooted at the Center for Teaching & Learning that focus on e-teaching and e-learning. If you would like additional details about any of these, please feel free to contact me.
These initiatives could not exist without the collaboration and support of entities outside of the Center for Teaching & Learning, including most importantly the Office of Converging Technologies.
What are we doing to promote and support technology-mediated teaching, and what is the approximate timeline for these projects?
Through our hybrid bootcamps, we have trained 48 faculty (2010-2011), and are currently working with 14 more faculty (summer 2011). We are looking for funding to conduct another bootcamp (winter 2012). In addition to our local training model, we have recommended close to 20 faculty to participate in hybrid training programs offered to us (free of cost) by the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Queens College faculty who have participated in these training opportunities are listed here. By the end of the 2011-2012 year, we anticipate we will have close to 90 faculty trained to teach online, and as many courses re-designed to be taught in a hybrid or fully online mode.
We are developing a database of courses offered in hybrid or fully online modalities over the past few years, so that we can track the growth of our (currently) miniscule curricular offerings in non-traditional modes. Proper categorization of courses depends on entering the information correctly in CUNYfirst at the time a course is added to the system, so we are exploring ways to work with departments on how to accomplish this.
A related matter is how to explain modes of instruction to students, and how to help students become online learning ready. We have developed and administered two versions of a survey probing student perceptions and use of technology, in their daily and academic lives. We know from this survey that students' perceptions and use of technology are very different in their personal and academic lives, which we feel could deter them from excelling in online courses if they don't have adequate support. We think the best way to address this is through course design, but institutional resources should also be developed.
We are also working on a faculty online teaching readiness survey. We are also exploring ways to obtain data on Blackboard use, so we can gain a better understanding of how much Internet-based technology there is even in courses that do not replace any of their face-to-face sessions with web-based activities or work.
Our most ambitious project for this academic year is forming an online curriculum committee. We have solicited (and received) a great deal of good feedback about this from faculty, and will be approaching the Senate's Executive Committee about this soon.
We have been using the ePortfolio platform Epsilen for about two years, and the user base has grown substantially even though we have not made specific efforts to advertise the availability of this system. Epsilen offers a flexible ePortfolio system, which includes a learning matrix function useful for assessment of student learning. Some of our faculty are also using Epsilen's course management functionality.
We are exploring our possible contributions to training in another system, Chalk & Wire, a sophisticated assessment platform that also has ePortfolio functionality.
Our ePortfolio initiative is currently supported by a Title V grant, Making Transfer Connections, led by LaGuardia Community College and involving four other CUNY campuses including Queens College. This grant focuses on using ePortfolios to support transfer students. We also collaborated with LaGuardia last spring on another Title V proposal, which (if funded) will focus on STEM disciplines, and will involve collaborations with other CUNY and non-CUNY colleges in the area.
This year we are preparing to hold more workshops, as we did last spring, for faculty to explore the features of Epsilen and to learn about ePortfolio pedagogies.
We are also working with three student mentors who are helping faculty and students use ePortfolios to track long-term curricular activity. Our student mentors have developed a "Help Desk" support mechanism using a function in Epsilen. They also provide in-class consultations to classes that use Epsilen, offer drop-in hours and help faculty training, and participate in ePortfolio workshops with faculty.
We are also planning an ePortfolio showcase session, in which students will share ePortfolios. The target audience for this event will be Queens College students, but we will also invite students and faculty from the colleges collaborating in Making Transfer Connections.
We have been collaborating with OCT and others on campus to improve one important feedback mechanism for faculty: teaching evaluations. Our activities focus on improving the response rate to teaching evaluations (up 10% last spring), and to improve the way that the data about teaching evaluations (and course schedules) are disseminated.
We are planning to expand opportunities for faculty who use Blackboard (CUNY's course management system) and qwriting (Queens College's blogging platform), by offering standalone and long-term workshops on both of those platforms. This programming will be in place by spring 2012.
Last year we launched a lecture series on technology, "Tech Talks", and we are planning to continue this series this year, with a set of talks on a variety of aspects of teaching with technology. We will launch the series with a presentation on web publishing best practices. We anticipate offering 6-8 "Tech Talks" this academic year.
We have been experimenting with lecture capturing, podcasting, and webcasting technologies, and are supporting a number of faculty who are using these tools in their teaching.
We will collaborate with a member of the faculty who is designing a seminar on video editing, which will operate as an internship for a group of students who will learn how to create instructional videos to be delivered via the web and will collaborate with faculty interested in having such content created.
Who is involved? The Learning Design and Technology Team
These projects involve the collaboration among multiple individuals and offices. We list here individuals affiliated in one way or another with the Center for Teaching & Learning. There are three categories of participants:
We are fortunate to have three instructional technologists working for us full time. Jean Kelly was hired December 2010 to support the teaching online initiative. Fei-Wen Pirovolikos joined the team in January 2011, to support ePortfolios. Rob Garfield joined us in October 2011, to support Blackboard and blogging.
A small but very strong cohort of students also helps us bring technology to faculty (and students). Andrew DeMasters supports work related to the online teaching evaluations systems, and has also been instrumental in helping us recruit other students. Michael Perlman, Carina Nieves, and Rachel Stern are our three student mentors, whose primary responsibility is to support ePortfolio users, but who have also on occasion taken on other duties (e.g., helping maintain our laptop cart and participating in hybrid bootcamp activities).
We are lucky to count on very dedicated members of our faculty, who contribute their expertise by offering workshops, moderating technology-related discussions, and leading some of our initiatives. Michelle Fraboni is the coordinator of our Teach Online initiative. Joe Cohen will be developing a video-editing seminar. Tom Surprenant is the coordinator of our ePortfolio initiative, and Walter Valero is our ePortfolios seminar instructor. Finally, Dean Savage has been instrumental in work related to online teaching evaluations.