It has grown, both in size and scope over the last five or six years, and continues to redefine it's position with the university. These changes make it challenging to write a any summary of our structure and my position within the Centre.
I am an instructional designer in our department, and rely on the many talents of my colleagues to support what I do, and what I attempt to do.
One of my responsibilities is the support of learning technologies at Simon Fraser University. SFU licenses WebCT Vista (a Learning Management System - now properly called Blackboard Vista, I think) and Elluminate (an online synchronous communications or conferencing platform). I work heavily with both these products, working with faculty and other staff to integrate sound instructional principles in the daily use of these platforms. The use of these platforms is voluntary, and we provide general advice on their use and implementation in the blended or hybrid classroom. There is a separate department on campus, CODE (the Centre for Online and Distance Education) that provides the heavier lifting for scheduled and entirely online or distance courses. We are also exploring the use of Wikis to support collaborative work in the face to face classroom.
Our department offers general workshops, Instructional Skills Workshops, a Certificate in Web-based Instruction, a Certificate Program in Teaching and Learning for Graduate Students and a reader group, a symposium each year, and two Teaching Assistant days each year.
We have an award winning media department, who design websites, learning objects and visual presentations for faculty and departments.
There is more, but these are the projects that I am most frequently involved with. I will post more later.
Are there advantages to having everything under one roof, so to speak?
Sylvia and Others,
Under one roof?
I'm visiting the University of Dundee today, the third UK university of my trip. Dundee has several small T&L units that are responsible for different support functions, but the staff communicate with one another frequently. Also, there is one staff position that is half time in The Learning Centre and half time in Information and Communication Technology. I believe that a the key ingredient to providing effective services is good communication - a large number of services under one roof doesn't necessarily guarantee this.
Under one roof?
Well yes, there are economies of scale in centralization, but there is also vulnerability. Our university recently lost our Extension Division because other departments claimed they could do distance education cheaper and better. Whether that is true is yet to be seen but we lost 70+ years of expertise and 20 faculty.
On the other hand, Medicine argues that it is unique and requires:
- artists that are trained in medical illustration not general graphic artists;
- faculty development that understands the role of physician-faculty and how medical training fits into an international profession;
- an IT department that's only responsible to Medicine.
I feel a little caught in the middle of this argument because I've had experience on both sides. Personally I like decentralized better because I can be more creative and inventive, but I do feel overwhelmed occasionally by the do it all nature of smaller units.