Teaching & Learning Centers

Last week I did a presentation for some faculty at San Juan Community College in Farmington, New Mexico about our 9x9x25 Challenge. It was part of their Technology Innovations conference that was followed the next day by a Canvas conference. I was able to participate in the Canvas event too.

As I always do when I visit colleges, I sought out the Teaching and Learning Center. I have discovered that they come in many shapes and forms. Some have coffee makers and some don’t. Some are literally a single office space for a director or a group of offices similar to to our TeLS Department. San Juan Community College is about the same size as YC but boy, the teaching and learning center is pretty wonderful!

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At San Juan they have had a very nice CTL (Center for Teaching & Learning) facility for the last six years. It is clearly supported financially. I was only in the room for 20 or 30 minutes talking with the director, but it was clear the mission on the center was to help faculty improve their craft. I can’t say how successful they are, but if they are like most of the teaching and learning centers I have seen, they have mixed results.

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It was really cool to see a nice library. I thought, “Why don’t we have one of those?” I sit here thinking, “Why don’t we have one of those?”

Here at Yavapai we have the GIFT (Great Ideas for Teaching) Center and we also have TeLS. Many colleges have these two entities combined. Some have the people like myself, instructional designers, in the IT department or under specific divisions. TeLS has wandered in and out of IT here at YC. Sometimes it was the result of a VP leaving or a shuffling of resources. Most often, the teaching and learning centers are under the VP of Academics. That seems right.

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Down at Glendale Community College they have a CTL that has a faculty director and people like me, instructional designers, serving under their direction. You can see their organization above. I know a few of these folks and I know they do great work. I wonder if having a full time faculty as the leader of the CTL makes a difference in the ability to advocate for various visions they may have. Or if a faculty might better surface ideas from the faculty at large in administrative spaces they are involved in.

I wonder how we might improve how we do things here at Yavapai with rethinking/reshaping our GIFT Center? Certainly we could improve. But what does it take? Maybe it just takes someone to move it forward like Ginnie Fuemmeler did when the GIFT Center started.

It was good to see a nice space devoted to teaching and learning in San Juan. I like our GIFT Center space too. We are lucky. I wonder what it would take to improve it? And how it would improve? And why?

There is no right or wrong answer to how these are managed or organized. But I do wonder how we adapt our current organizational structure to better serve the faculty?

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