|Challenges Faculty Face in Creating a Culture of
Support for Teaching with Technology
|On the last morning of the Institute, Dickie Selfe
facilitated a session entitled "Making Progress
Within Local Contexts." Because Institute
participants felt a need to do interactive reflection and
planning work before going home, Dickie shortened his
talk to make room for a writing-to-learn
exercise and small group dialogue. He graciously
provided us with a full set of
his original session notes.
The last step in Epiphany's four-part STEPS model is "dissemination," sharing what you've learned with others. In her introduction to Selfe's session, Judy Williamson observed, "Even though you may feel like you're more confused than ever, like you don't know where to begin, you probably also have this overwhelming (perhaps even burdensome) sense that you've got to go back and share." The answers to this challenge are best found in a process of collaborative reflection, brainstorming, and support. Selfe's session was designed to help participants work in small groups to express concerns, explore possibilities, and identify the most promising avenues for local action.
Summary of Selfe's Institute Presentation
Selfe began by polling audience members to identify what kinds of institutions and academic appointments they represented:
He noted that these figures are somewhat unusual. In his other experiences with technology-related educational presentations, fewer tenured tenure track faculty are in attendance, while a greater percentage of graduate students are usually attracted to gatherings that explore teaching with technology. Selfe postulated that Epiphany's Institute participant statistics may reflect the fact that the event (held in early January) selected for motivated faculty -- the "early adopters." Early adopters are people who learn primarily on their own initiative, have a pre-existing fascination with the potential of technology, or who are working "without a safety net." This is in contrast with faculty who have more "mainstream" and "reluctant" attitudes toward digital pedagogies. Knowing your constituents and their respective attitudes toward technology is crucial, because it makes a big difference in how you plan and what constitutes the best course of action at your institution.
If we are to be successful at implementing technology in our classrooms and/or convincing other people to do the same, we need to keep in mind that there's an attendant set of responsibilities:
Selfe then outlined three challenges for faculty who play a catalytic role on their local campuses in the area of teaching with technology:
Selfe then laid out a five-part heuristic based in the concerns/perspectives of teachers:
This is the kind of ongoing, reflective self (and institutional) assessment that we need to conduct to survive. We need to ride the wave of enthusiasm that we feel coming off of gatherings like the Epiphany Institute, but we also need to build support and draw other faculty into the process.
Selfe then asked those in attendance to take part in a writing-to-learn activity. Participants wrote for about ten minutes, responding to the question and discussing their responses with the people sitting next to them. After participants then divided into small groups, reporting on conversations, brainstorming, and laying out preliminary action plans to implement after returning home.
What is the most important challenge that you face in your efforts to create a culture of support for teaching with technology?
Selfe gathered the responses to this writing prompt, which he collated and posted on several computer-related lists. Joe Essid has created a Web-based overview of the responses. To read selected participant writings, visit the links below: