May 2021

As I write this, I’m down to one stack of papers to grade for my first-year writing seminar. Grading those papers may be the most normal thing I do in my spring course! From Zooming in remote students to using new tools like Perusall and Teams to changing up my assessments, so much of my teaching felt like an experiment this semester. The last year has required a great deal of experimentation from the Vanderbilt teaching community. I’m glad that the Center for Teaching could play a role supporting that creativity and innovation, and that we’ll continue to do so.
You may have seen the news about two new internal funding programs, the Educational Advancement Fund and the Course Improvement Grant Program. These programs are designed to support excellence in teaching, and I’m excited that the Center for Teaching is partnering with the Office of Faculty Affairs to manage and support these programs. Applications for the first round of funding are due May 21st. Thanks to Cynthia Brame, associate director, and Julaine Fowlin, assistant director for instructional design, for heading up this great new opportunity for faculty.
You may have also noticed that I have a new title: assistant provost and executive director of the Center for Teaching. This promotion reflects the incredible work of the Center for Teaching, particularly over the last year as we helped Vanderbilt faculty learn the kinds of adaptive teaching they needed to support student learning during very challenging times. I’m excited to be part of the Provost’s team, taking on new projects focusing on teaching, learning, and faculty development.
One of those projects is the recently announced Digital Commons. Located in the beautiful building at 1101 19th Avenue just down the street from the CFT, the Digital Commons will offer programs and services to help Vanderbilt faculty learn the skills they need to use digital technologies in their research and teaching. For years, I’ve been helping faculty make intentional choices about using technology in their teaching. Now, as interim director of the Digital Commons, I have the chance to extend that work into faculty research and scholarship.
With my CFT hat on, I’m excited to welcome Michael Coley to the team as our new instructional technologist. Michael has a background in agricultural education, including the study of technology use by Tennessee teachers. We are glad to have him on the Brightspace support team, helping the Vanderbilt teaching community get the most out of Brightspace and related technologies.
Michael replaces longtime Brightspace support team member Brandon Crawford, who his moving on to new opportunities at Kennesaw State University. We’ll miss Brandon, and we wish him all the best in Georgia!
Derek Bruff, executive director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Excellence in Podcasting Competition
Have any of your students produced excellent work in audio form this year? Maybe you included a podcasting assignment in your course, or you let students choose their medium for a creative assignment and one of them made an audio documentary. Or maybe you’re a student who tried your hand at academic podcasting recently.
The Excellence in Podcasting Competition is a way to showcase and honor the ways students are using audio storytelling to communicate ideas, share perspectives, make arguments, and persuade others. The competition is sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, in collaboration with the Office of Immersion Resources and the CFT.
The competition is open to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, with cash prizes up to $500 awarded to the best submissions. Winning pieces will also be featured on the upcoming season of VandyVox, the CFT’s podcast showcasing the best of student-produced audio at Vanderbilt.
Submissions are due May 17th via InfoReady. More information is available here. If you know of a student with a great audio project to submit, please encourage them to do so!

Two new internal funding programs to support classroom excellence announced

The Office of the Provost announces an additional two new internal funding programs, the Educational Advancement Fund and the Course Improvement Grant program, designed to support excellence in the classroom through continued pedagogical advancement and long-term educational transformation.
These provost-sponsored internal funding programs are managed by the Office of Faculty Affairs in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and join two research-focused programs announced in March—Seeding Success Grants and the Rapid Advancement Micro-grant Program (RAMP).
The Educational Advancement Fund will support longer-term educational transformations. The key criterion is that proposals promise long-term educational effects not only for the applicant, but also for the larger Vanderbilt teaching community. Proposals may request funding to support activities such as seminars or other initiatives aimed at implementing evidence-based teaching practices, research efforts to investigate the impact of new teaching approaches, or acquisition or development of materials that can support implementation efforts across multiple courses, course sections or programs. This grant will not support anything related to classroom technology that is currently within the scope of the provost–VUIT partnership. Proposals may be submitted by individuals or groups.
Course Improvement Grants aim to promote excellence in teaching within a single course or course section. Proposals may request funding to support activities such as acquiring or developing course-related materials and seminars and other programs to improve the quality of teaching, studies and experimental tests of new instructional methods and programs. Individuals or groups may submit proposals.
Interested faculty can submit applications online using InfoReady Review. The deadline to submit is May 21, with funds available beginning July 1. A second application period will begin in September 2021 with an Oct. 15 deadline and funds available on Dec. 1.
All full-time, VU-employed (provost-reporting) faculty are eligible regardless of tenure status.  Graduate students and postdocs are ineligible. Faculty may carry out the proposed project individually or in a team. Funds may not be used to support faculty salary or graduate student tuition. However, funds may be used to pay a graduate student for completing tasks related to the awarded grant.
Proposals should have a potential for impact at Vanderbilt and should demonstrate a commitment to teaching. Educational Advancement Fund awards must be used within 24 months after they are awarded, and Course Improvement Grants must be used within 12 months. Up to $500 may be requested for the Course Improvement Grants, and up to $2,500 may be requested for the Educational Advancement Fund. Successful applicants will participate in a CFT-supported learning community during their award period.
Visit the Educational Advancement Fund and Course Improvement Grants webpages for more information about the program, including eligibility standards, proposal requirements, funding guidelines and selection criteria. 
Any additional questions about these new programs can be directed to Cynthia Brame, associate director of the Center for Teaching.

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