The Center for Teaching Excellence guides faculty colleagues in thinking through how to take advantage of the opportunities to liberate class time for engaged and high level thinking and learning. The changes in teaching included in course redesign can be incremental or a major transformation, depending on the availability of faculty time. During Spring 2013, CTE and the Center for Online and Distance Learning jointly facilitated a workshop for 15 CLAS faculty members who undertook substantial projects by redesigning large introductory courses, many of which are foundational for CLAS majors. The redesigned courses were either transformed to fully online courses, or redesigned as hybrid courses. There are also faculty colleagues who work incrementally on pieces of a course sequentially over several offerings. They focus on developing new approaches to teaching introductory courses that in the past have relied heavily on lecture. These instructors move content delivery gradually to text and online sources, while enhancing the engaged nature of their face-to-face time with students in class.
KU’s involvement with the Bay View Alliance (BVA), a consortium of universities, has been a favorable influence in getting a wider range of faculty members in contact with colleagues at other research universities who take teaching very seriously. The BVA states as its mission to “accelerate the rate of adaption, exploration, and effective integration of methods of instruction that support improved student learning.” Rather than focusing on teaching methods, its “emphasis is on issues related to leadership, motivation, organizational culture, and change management that lead to, support, and sustain improved teaching and learning.” The BVA group at KU has been committed to the Teaching Postdoc Program, assisting with the application and selection process.
C21 (i.e., 21st Century) Course Redesign Consortium is a group of individuals from across campus who share the goal of student-centered course transformation at KU. These course transformations take advantage of today’s widespread availability of information, and they move students from a passive role in the classroom (e.g., note taking) to an active learning orientation (e.g., problem solving, writing, and collaboration). The goal of C21 is to build momentum toward widespread adoption of 21st century, student-centered teaching methods, rather than a continuation of a teaching culture that emphasizes the role of the instructor as a deliverer of information and the student as receiver.
The hub of the consortium is the new CLAS Teaching Postdoc Program for the natural sciences, mathematics, and social and behavioral sciences. C21 includes the teaching postdocs and the department faculty members with whom they are collaborating, faculty leaders in hybrid or student-centered course design, instructors implementing redesigned courses, and specialists from CTE, CODL, the Center for STEM learning, hosted by the Commons, and funded by the Provost’s Office and CLAS. One of the major motivations for the consortium is to broaden the intellectual community beyond the few departments that currently have teaching postdocs, so as to connect department teams working in the postdoc program with people from a wide range of disciplines, and capitalize on the different perspectives and experiences that individuals from different disciplinary areas bring to the table.