This year, a majority of the DL team attended and/or presented at TEACHx. Hosted by NUIT, TEACHx is an opportunity for faculty and staff to share innovative and creative uses of technology in the classroom, whether that classroom is physical or digital. This week, several staff members share their reflections on what it was like to attend and present at this conference.
This year at TEACHx I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a panel called Discussion Hero: A Gamified Discussion Board That Encourages Rich Dialogue. Discussion Hero is a gamified discussion board that is currently being developed by myself and fellow SPS-Distance Learning Designer/Faculty David Noffs. Also on the panel were David and Alita Kendrick, a former student of David’s and a User Experience Specialist who is helping us with the project. The crowd had many great questions and really seemed to like the idea of gamifying discussions. While we talked about many topics, one of the things that stood out to me was the evolution of the project, which started as a spreadsheet and will hopefully be something that can be integrated into Canvas. I honestly can’t wait until the next phase is complete.
It was hard to take a breath at TEACHx this year! I was a speaker on two different panels and enjoyed every moment.
In the Ask a Learning Designer: Tactics to Enhance Your Courses panel, which featured instructional design staff from across the university, we talked through our origin stories (most of us came from creative fields), departmental structures (from a single point-person to a central team located in Northwestern Information Technology), and development policies (using templates, for example). Afterwards, I had a great conversation with an attendee about how to bring active learning practices into his on-ground classroom.
The Assessing Web Technology for Educational Use panel was a cross-section of Distance Learning team members. In addition to myself, our team was comprised of moderator Dan Murphy, Director of Online Learning Technologies, Christine Scherer, Content Specialist, David Noffs, Learning Designer/Faculty, and William Guth, Instructional Technologist. Using our diverse roles during the course development process, we shared strategies for slowing down and being deliberate about selecting web technologies. A key takeaway? Don’t be dazzled by demonstrations and vendor pitches. Begin with the learning objectives in your course, and then select accessible technology that serves them.
Even though the theme of TEACHx was inclusive teaching and student perspectives, I noticed a different theme emerging throughout the sessions I attended: storytelling.
During the keynote, Learning in an Era of “Wicked” Challenges, Dr. Yevgeniya V. Zastavker shared a model for interpreting stories to create change, beginning with describing the happenings and how they made you feel and moving to exploring how your worldview impacted your perception of an event, to considering how someone with a different lived experience might have been affected by the same events, to deciding upon necessary changes.
In the panel on Alleviating Fears and Inspiring Innovation: How to Engage Faculty, Alyson Carrel, Monica Llorente, Clare Willis and Heather Haseley stressed the importance of engaging peer champions in different groups throughout the school so they could share stories about technology adoption. On their panel Authoring your professional self: Digital learning portfolios at MSLOC, Kimberly Scott, Michelle Albaugh, Liza Jager, Jeff Merrell, and Kathleen Wisemandle related that through sharing stories about their learning journeys in their digital portfolios, MSLOC students had experienced reflective learning and the process contributed to their identity formation.
Although the ways in which the presenters and panelists used storytelling in their jobs were very different, all of them used this technique to form relationships and further learning. It left me thinking about how we might take advantage of the various lived experiences of students and faculty in our online programs and empower them to share stories with each other.