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Doug: scenarios for open, online faculty development (& tutor support)

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Doug Holton
19 January 2013

Here are some rough user stories/scenarios about potential users of a site that offers self-paced resources (plus learner support) for learning about effective teaching techniques and technologies.  See proposal

#1 An experienced faculty member rarely if ever attends teaching workshops on campus or teaching-related sessions at conferences - possibly because of a lack of time, lack of perceived need to improve teaching, or not being comfortable discussing the sensitive topic of one's teaching in front of colleagues, especially since research is priority #1.  The faculty member doesn't have time to read long books on the topic of teaching, either.  But for one reason or another (pressure because of lower than average student ratings, high drop out rates, competiveness with other instructors, course is becoming too overloaded with content, etc.), the faculty member would like to see what others say about effective teaching methods and/or addressing common problems faced in the classroom (students not doing the readings, not showing interest in the topic, not deeply learning content, etc.).  Learning online on his or her own time would be more convenient and discrete.  The faculty member learns some tips for addressing some problems with the students and increasing their ratings.

#2 A new faculty member went through one or more workshops on campus for new faculty, but still doesn't feel really prepared for teaching effectively or doesn't know where to get more support.  An online supplemental resource and source of support would be helpful.   The new faculty member finds similar experiences and helpful tips tailored for beginning faculty.

#3 An experienced professional or hobbyist in some industry (like programming) wants to take a go at teaching or creating a tutorial or training for others.  He or she isn't familiar with teaching techniques, however.  An online resource provides some basics on how people learn, some types of activities that can be done online, and how to assess learning.

#4 A teaching assistant really needs some help and advice on how to teach a course more effectively.  He or she feels overwhelmed and unprepared for this experience, and is worried about doing a poor job.  Online templates and tools for scaffolding learning design / backward design and specific suggestions for fun/interactive class activities are helpful.

#5 A tutoring center doesn't have the resources to provide thorough training to tutors on how to more effectively interact with and support students, and would like them to at least get some training online.


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Shirley Williams
4:25pm 20 January 2013

#3 was really what prompted me to pose "Will this help me learn?". I teach computer science, and while we teach some programming, students also have to learn on their own. Evaluating if material is useful is really difficult at first glance, part of this must be that good and clever programmers do not always understand learning.

We have tried turning this on its head and getting students who are learning to program to prepare tutorials as they go.

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