Introducing effective innovation into the classroom often takes time and expertise that individual faculty members do not have. Most faculty members have not had training in pedagogy, nor are they able to keep up with new pedagogical technologies and techniques while simultaneously keeping abreast of their own field. Computing services personnel are not trained nor should they be expected to mentor faculty in selecting and adopting new technologies for the classroom. Up to this point, pedagogical support for faculty has been on an ad hoc basis with little dedicated structure or systematic development. For Northwestern College to become a leader in the effective use of innovative pedagogies and classroom technologies, we should hire a Director of Teaching and Learning Innovation to serve as a faculty “concierge” and mentor in these areas.
Ideas from Other Institutions
Grinnell College has a Director of Academic Technology, which is a position in its Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA).
Harvard University has effectively utilized such a position.
Mount Holyoke has a Director of Research and Instructional support who oversees the digital pedagogy team which ” works with faculty on the critical use of technology in teaching, including the learning management system. The group works with faculty and students on data management, creating media, web publishing and more.”
Suggestions for Northwestern
The Director of Teaching and Learning Innovation would be filled by someone who has significant college classroom experience and is known as an excellent teacher. This person would also have expertise in classroom technology and be eager to continue learning about advances in pedagogy. The DTLI would serve the faculty as a resource, a mentor, and a teacher for innovative and effective pedagogy that may or may not involve the use of technology and digital resources. The responsibilities of this position should include creating and maintaining at least an online center for teaching excellence to provide faculty and staff with resources and share new techniques and ideas.
Goal 1.4 – Advance the quality and reputation of the academic program – Raise the reputation of Northwestern as a leader in Christian thought, scholarship, practice, and artistic expression.
Goal 2.2 – Prepare students for meaningful work and flourishing lives – Integrate digital literacy (connected to critical thinking and writing skills) into the NWCore curriculum.