In this month’s edition of the Open Dore newsletter, authored by Derek Bruff, Director of the Center for Teaching, we are reminded of the essential role this office plays in supporting our faculty year-round and in times such as now, with an unprecedented and historical shift in our methods and rapid, obligatory adoption of new technologies.
The Center for Teaching is a long-standing leader in the portfolio of faculty development opportunities supported by Vice Provost Tracey George. In concert with a network of partners across the campus, the Center for Teaching provides integral resources for faculty in their pursuit to provide Vanderbilt students an unparalleled learning experience, whether in online and alternative formats or the classroom. I am proud of the work Bruff and colleagues are doing to allow us to continue in our mission of educating the whole student and preparing each to be resilient, active citizens that engage, question and forge positive change in our world.
Susan R. Wente
Interim Chancellor and Provost
Center for Teaching Supports Faculty by Derek Bruff
Greetings from my home office, where I do most of my work these days. Sometimes I move to the back porch when the weather is nice, but the desk in my office sits next to a couple of windows that provide good light for the Zoom meetings I have every day. My work and that of the Center for Teaching has changed dramatically over last month, at least in some ways. In other ways, it hasn’t changed at all.
In a typical year, Center for Teaching consultants work with almost a third of Vanderbilt’s faculty, not to mention graduate students, postdocs and staff members. We help current and future instructors clarify their learning objectives, plan for active learning in the classroom and design assignments that lead to deep learning. Through our programs and services, we have a significant, although indirect impact on student learning across the university.
This year, as we all know, has not turned out to be typical. Our work has increased dramatically in recent weeks as we’ve helped faculty and other instructors move to online and other alternative modes of instruction as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still in the process of helping faculty think through course objectives, plan learning activities and design assessments, but we’re doing so in the context of remote teaching and learning.
Since March 1, we’ve created or enhanced around 70 on-demand resources that are available to the Vanderbilt teaching community through our Brightspace support site. During March, the site received 105,240 pageviews, almost twice as many compared to last August, which is typically our busiest month of the year. Last month, our Brightspace support team fielded 4.5 times the usual number of tickets for this time of year. Three key Brightspace tools also saw expanded use in March with 141,254 quizzes taken, 363,495 assignments submitted and 222,746 discussions hosted.
I don’t recall another time in my 15 years at the Center for Teaching that we’ve been this busy, nor do I recall a time when our work has been this important to the teaching mission of the university. For those of you teaching in these tumultuous times, we want to help you navigate the challenges and opportunities you face.
- For questions about Brightspace and related technologies, please reach out to our Brightspace support team either by email (email@example.com) or phone (615-322-0200).
- For other questions about teaching, either now or as you prepare for summer courses, you can schedule a consultation via Zoom with members of our senior staff or graduate fellows. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- For teaching ideas and resources you can use right now, see our “Resources for Just-in-Time Online Teaching” page for links to CFT blog posts, teaching guides, podcast episodes and more.
I’m proud of my colleagues at the Center for Teaching and the amazing work they’ve done this spring, and I’m proud of the ways the Vanderbilt teaching community has creatively, intentionally and compassionately supported student learning during this unprecedented shift to online instruction.
Director of the Center for Teaching
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