This sounds very interesting and I believe the activities you describe would be well worth exploring in Canada/BC. I love the idea of "Learning Sets". What are some of the "questions" or "practice problems" that emerge in these discussions?
I also like the peer review process that you have described. We do this a bit in our teaching certificate at SFU (course design workshop and assessment workshop) but I can see it would be very useful if used more strategically.
will now go to your LTHE site for more info.
We have a teacher preparation program required of all our new hires that runs the entire first year of their employment with us. The interesting thing about our structure is that many established faculty join us (coincidentally in numbers about equal to the new hires, usually), because this has the potential to impact their placement on the pay grid, ultimately. That's the initial motivation, though the program has gained quite a bit of traction on campus as a worthwhile, satisfying endeavour.
Well, as a result of the mix of participants, we invariably get wonderful discussions going between the new and established faculty around all of the topics we cover in those 12 sessions. For me, it's part of the fun of facilitating these sessions, and both groups acknowledge how rich the exchange is. I'm certain it's one of the features that keeps people signing up for these sessions (from among the established faculty), and causes the participants to hang around, even after we're 'done', late on a Friday afternoon, to continue their exchanges!
I also offer a peer review of teaching - entirely voluntary, and the agenda is set by the prof being observed.
The one piece we need to formalize a bit more at our little community college - and I'm grateful for the references I've seen to this already - is our mentoring program. In our case, too, folks from like disciplines connect for the new faculty member's first year, and the mentor's time becomes part of the workload formula. It's just VERY informal at the moment. But it's next on my hit list. :)
This program sounds very exciting and certainly would appeal to me. I think that you teaching institution is on the right track and the students will benefit.
How much time do you think is spent on it monthly?
Do you have any formal evaluations from participants yet?
Thanks Jo Ann
I'm not sure where you're located... If not in N. America, you may not be familiar with a program put out by League for Innovation (www.league.org) called "LENs", or Learning Exchange Networks. It's predominantly U.S. based, but one of our local community colleges (Humber, in Toronto) was a member of the consortium that developed the materials. My predecessor researched options and determined this would be one of the best available, and when I took over the position on campus, I just kept the status quo, as it had garnered such a strong response.
The content is meant to be delivered in six modules, but I only cover three per semester and I take two afternoons to cover each; hence the 12 sessions in total. Our sessions are three hours. It's a terrific set of materials, if you ask me, and I have yet to come across anything that decidedly surpasses the quality. It feels very much like an 'add water and stir' kind of formula. I freshen it up every year by changing some of the activities, and we bring in our in-house experts on a variety of topics - anything from rubrics to technology in the classroom, etc - but generally the content is rock solid and easy to use. I mean, REALLY easy.
We haven't gone so far as to collect data that goes beyond your usual feedback form, but I'd say that the LENs sessions (as they've become known) are probably considered the hallmark of what comes out of my office, though I do a lot more.... And they are widely well regarded.
As a community college, our faculty are members of a union, and in some respects that actually makes life easier. Their participation in the sessions is a condition of employment when they're hired on. People who have been with us since before the establishment of this program still opt in for reasons I described earlier. I think they stay pretty willingly. :)
I wasn't aware of the League for Innovation (www.league.org) "LENs" Learning Exchange Networks modules. We have been developing and offering something similar without knowing this existed. Arrgg!
This is especially frustrating when our district is very active in the League. We, Foothill-DeAnza College District - are the "host" for the League for Innovation conference next week! I'm going as a volunteer, so I'll be on the look-out for more information.
BTW: Is anyone else going to the League for Innovation conference (www.league.org/i2009/) in Reno Nevada next week? I'll be there Sunday Mar 15 - Wed Mar 18. I'd love to meet up with fellow SCoPE-ers.
I too like the ideas of "learning sets". I think that one of the areas I would like see developed is quality of "chunks" of learning that relate how to teach --both online and traditionally. These chunks could be learning sets that are given recognition at the national and international level as having mastered these areas (chunk by chunk) and this kind of learning could be promoted as life long learning. Models, skills, readings, application, and connecting with peers of learners would help support the reason to do these "learning set modules".
Some universities could give graduate students and faculty credits for the completion of these learning sets. This may be the road to meeting the diverse teaching needs of medical faculty, and the diverse needs for specific subject domains. I would like to see people developing these learning set modules on wikieducator as well as on other sites that are willing to share them and promote teaching quality. To some extent this may be already happening, but I think the intention would be to accelerate the development of these learning set modules and promote their quality and availability. Jo Ann