By Catherine Lombardozzi
Director of the Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
March 2 marked my first anniversary as director of CCIT. (Or maybe it’s March 3; March 2, 2015 was actually a snow day!) It has been quite the whirlwind, and I hope I have brought something to the table. I know that I, myself, have learned quite a bit.
One of the reasons I love the work that I do is that it reminds me every day of what it means to do that work with quality. When you teach instructional design and adult learning, you are under a bit of pressure to practice what you preach! I want to provide a good example, of course, but I also want to continuously refine my approach. Working with the team in CCIT and the faculty at Delaware Tech has certainly influenced me to up my game. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
Course Design Process
In designing my own courses in prior years, I have used a customized version of the course design processes I used in my corporate training and development work. That has served me well. But coming to Delaware Tech, I’ve been introduced (or reintroduced) to course design processes and templates that are specific to an academic environment. And my courses are richer for it. My favorite new resource is a book called Idea Based Learning by Edmund Hansen, which is a version of the Understanding by Design process popularized by Wiggins and McTighe. These processes help me to focus on big ideas and essential questions, which have influenced both my teaching strategies and my assessment plans over the last few terms.
I thought that the corporate world was obsessed with evaluation, but they have nothing on academics! While I have always ensured that graded assignments in my courses linked back to the most important course objectives, I have never been more aware of monitoring how I am shaping students’ thinking through formative assessment activities. Since so much of my work is 100% online, my formative assessments have mostly been in the context of discussion boards, and I have become more conscious of the need for me to have “teaching presence” when interacting on those boards. I have also more often used the discussion board feature to run activities that give students a chance to articulate or demonstrate what they are learning in some way.
I have always seen Bloom’s Taxonomy as a nice support tool for writing objectives and a shorthand way to consider whether activities and assessments are in fact at the same “level” as course objectives. Since we use Bloom’s Taxonomy as the core of our curriculum design strategy, I have become much more versed in its nuances and implications.
My work here has made me more attentive to my network of higher ed instructors and faculty developers (bloggers and Tweeters). Those connections made me aware of an online MOOC last fall that focused on how to leverage internet resources and networks as part of my teaching strategies. I learned so much from the faculty who participated from around the world. This kind of thinking is near to my heart as we consider how to incorporate digital age tools and techniques into how we support faculty development as well as how we design and deliver our courses. I blogged about that elsewhere, and you can read more about that here.
There is much more, of course, but I’ll stop with that short list. This post isn’t meant to be a learning report as it is meant to be a huge thank you to everyone at Delaware Tech who has made my first year memorable, challenging, and inspiring. It’s also an invitation to consider the ways you learn every day just by doing the work and thinking about incremental changes you can make to continuously improve teaching over time. I hope to continue learning and teaching here for the foreseeable future.