By Doug Ward
Teachers and administrators say they want to see more innovation in teaching but blame each other for creating obstacles to experimentation, The Hechinger Report writes.
In the article, Jordan Shapiro says that lack of a “dependable shared language” may contribute to the problem. Education buzzwords abound, but clear definitions of those buzzwords are in shorter supply (see Audrey Watters below). That makes it harder to gauge what administrators want or what teachers are doing, Shapiro says.
Colleges and universities have additional problems when it comes to innovative teaching. In some cases, neither administrators nor instructors see much value in pursuing changes in teaching, making it easy to point a finger at someone else while continuing on the same easy but ultimately directionless path. A lack of recognition of and rewards for innovative and effective teaching further hinders change. And I agree with Shapiro that we need to do a better job of explaining what we mean by innovation and effective teaching.
One way to bring about change is to reach out to faculty and administrators who do value teaching, creating a community that demonstrates ways to improve teaching and learning, and helps others take small but meaningful steps toward change. That approach has worked well at the Center for Teaching Excellence with such efforts as the Best Practices Institute and the C21 Consortium, along with our annual teaching summit and periodic workshops and discussions.
Those and other events have generated new ideas for improving student engagement and student learning, promoting reflective teaching, and spreading the word that change is indeed possible from within.
Predictions for 2015 and beyond
Predictions abound at the beginning of every year. Among the publications, organizations and blogs I follow, here are some of the predictions that stood out:
- More state regulation of higher education. (Forbes)
- Increased support for competency-based education programs. (eCampus News)
- Increased pressure from students for college to be “faster, cheaper and more customizable.” (eCampus News)
- Growth of adaptive, personalized learning, and “just-in-time knowledge.” (University Business)
- Possible plateauing of online education. (e-Literate)
- Continued growth in a bring-your-own-device approach to technology, personalized learning, and the use of tablets in K-12 education. (The Journal)
- More attention on student behavior at college campuses. (NPR)
- More of the same empty buzzwords: MOOCs, cloud, big data, social, disruptive innovation, blended learning, personalized learning, efficiency, game-changers, learning outcomes, blah, blah, blah. (Audrey Watters)
Tuition from students now accounts for more revenue than state financing at public colleges and universities in the United States, USA Today reports, citing a report from the Government Accountability Office. … The Chronicle of Higher Education has released A Guide to the Flipped Classroom, a downloadable booklet that includes seven articles from the Chronicle, along with a short list of resources. Download requires a name, title and email address.
Doug Ward is an associate professor of journalism and the associate director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. You can follow him on Twitter @kuediting.