November 2018
November Learning Community Meeting: Classroom Challenges
The hope for the group is to have a dynamic discussion of the many issues that arise for international students and faculty in the U.S. classroom, and the teaching approaches that may help both to thrive. The learning community meetings involve informal discussions of pedagogical readings, teaching challenges, and practical strategies for improving our teaching and learning.
Topics include but are not limited to…
  • Creating inclusive spaces for learning
  • Understanding biases towards international students and faculty
  • Engaging students of diverse national backgrounds
  • Supporting students for whom English is a second language
  • Student expectations in the U.S. as compared to other nations
  • Managing faculty authority in the classroom
  • Or, other topics decided by the group
The learning community is open to both faculty and graduate students and will meet several times throughout the academic year.
Date: Friday, November 9th
Time: 12-1:30pm (Lunch Provided)
Location: CFT Classroom
Please contact CFT Assistant Director Joe Bandy if you’re interested in attending.
Writing as a Design Process
Teaching Design Thinking Learning Community

There are some interesting parallels between human-centered design and writing. Just as designers use empathy to understand who they’re designing for, writers try to understand and connect with their audience. And just as writing involves brainstorming and revision, designing involves ideation and prototyping. Join us for a conversation on education as a design process with
  • Haerin Shin, assistant professor of English, and
  • Matthew Worsnick, assistant professor of the practice of history of art.
Date: Tuesday, November 6th
Time: 11:30
- 1:00pm (session includes lunch)
Location: CFT Classroom
Please let us know you’re coming. Lunch will be provided!
Graduate Student/Postdoc Workshop
Developing a Written Diversity Statement 

In this workshop, we will discuss evidence-based practices for writing a diversity statement for the academic job market. Increasingly, universities and colleges are requesting that faculty job applicants provide a statement addressing how they plan to contribute to inclusive excellence in their professional lives. Sometimes, a job ad will request that applicants address diversity in the cover letter or the teaching statement, but a request for a stand-alone diversity statement is becoming more common. From the perspective of the university, the purpose of this document is to verify that an applicant has a commitment to diversity in his or her work within higher education, including scholarship, teaching, service, mentoring, and advising. From the applicant’s perspective, a diversity statement offers an opportunity to articulate the many ways one may contribute to inclusivity via their research, teaching, and service; and the challenges to this work that one may help academic institutions overcome. This session will introduce several approaches to developing and writing a diversity statement and give participants an opportunity to begin generating ideas on their own and in small groups.

Date: Wednesday, November 7th
Time: 11:30-12:30 pm
Location: CFT Classroom
Facilitators: Chelsea Yarborough and Alex Oxner, CFT Graduate Teaching Fellows
Open to Vanderbilt Graduate Students & Postdocs

Brightspace Help is Available!
Come the the CFT and get individual help during Brightspace drop-in hours or by appointment in a one-on-one consult with one of our instructional technologists. You can also email us at or check out this collection of step-by-step guides for help getting started.
November Drop-in Hours
Mondays  2:30pm – 4:30pm
Tuesdays  9:00am – 11:00am
Wednesdays  1:00pm – 3:00pm
Thursdays  10:00am – 12:00pm
NOTE: Brightspace will have no drop-in hours the week of Thanksgiving. Regular phone and email support will be available Sunday through Wednesday of that week, but support services will be closed Thursday through Sunday in observation of the university-wide holiday. 
Upcoming Science Teaching Lunch on November 16th
The Science Teaching Lunch series invites faculty from A&S science departments to discuss common teaching challenges and to seek ideas and solutions from colleagues and the literature on science teaching and learning. This fall, the series will focus on questions relevant to graduate student education.

The November teaching lunch will focus on using mentoring agreements with your research group. The lunch will be held November 16th, 12-1 in MRBIII 1202.

Latest Ed Tech Podcast Features
Julia Feerrar

In this episode, we hear from Julia Feerrar, head of digital initiatives at the Virginia Tech Libraries. She speaks with producer Melissa Mallon about a framework for digital literacy that she helped develop, a framework that includes a variety of competencies, from discovery and evaluation, to communication and creation, to identity and well-being. Julia and Melissa discuss the development of the framework, the cross-campus connections enabled by the digital literacy work, and what’s next for digital literacy at Virginia Tech.
To hear the podcast episodes you've missed, visit the Leading Lines website, search for “Leading Lines” in iTunes, or subscribe via RSS.  You can also follow us on Twitter, @LeadingLinesPod.
Faculty Workshop
Hybrid/Online Teaching:
Presence & Interaction Online
Are you interested in creating meaningful learning experiences as part of your current or future online or hybrid course, but not sure where to start? A few practical tools can help ease the transition to online teaching. Come explore online teaching strategies in this workshop designed for a range of experience levels–from those just thinking about online teaching to those who have been teaching in an online or hybrid setting for a while. In this workshop, participants will explore online teaching through the community of inquiry framework with an emphasis on instructor presence and student interactions. By the end of the session, participants will be able to:
  • describe multiple ways instructors facilitate online learning
  • understand how teaching approaches can be modified for online learning environments, an
  • apply this knowledge to a course they may be teaching.
Date: Monday, November 12th
Time: 2:30pm-4:00pm
Location: CFT Classroom
Facilitators: Kylie Korsnack, CFT Graduate Teaching Fellow and Stacey Johnson, CFT Assistant Director for Educational Technology

Open to Faculty Only


Online Communities
Teaching Digital Literacies Learning Community

How can we encourage students to engage in civil and respective dialogue in digital environments? How can we help our students learn to contribute productively to online communities
Join us for a conversation on teaching students to participate in online communities!
Our panelists will be:
  • Jessie Hock, assistant professor of English
  • Amanda Little, writer-in-residence in English
  • Patrick Murphy, senior lecturer in Spanish
Date: Tuesday, November 13th
Time: 2
- 3:30pm 
Location: CFT Classroom
Student/Postdoc Workshop
Crafting an Effective Teaching Statement 
In this workshop, we will address best practices for writing a teaching statement/philosophy for the academic job market. This workshop is open to Vanderbilt graduate students & Postdocs from across the disciplines who want to improve their teaching portfolio materials. All teaching experience levels are welcome.

Date: Friday, November 2nd
Time: 11:00-12:30 pm
Location: CFT Classroom
Facilitator: Robert Marx, CFT Graduate Teaching Fellow
Open to Vanderbilt Graduate Students & Postdocs
Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Uttam Ghosh
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Uttam Ghosh, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests.
I am an Assistant Professor of the Practice in EECS Department at Vanderbilt University since 2018. I obtained my PhD and Master of Science (by Research) both from Department of E&ECE, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India in 2013 and 2009 respectively. I have postdoctoral experiences at ADSC (A unit of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Singapore, Fordham University and Tennessee State University. My research mainly focused on cybersecurity and advanced networking. I am teaching Computer Organization, Operating System and Computer Networks.

Research and teaching are not two separate entities for me rather one complements another. In research, I believe on system building and teaching is nothing but nurturing the skills and qualities to be a good builder of systems. In my view, a teacher is successful if he/she can successfully prepare students for careers in engineering or systems research, entails fostering some basic aptitudes; strong implementation/troubleshooting skills, independent, creative, analytic thinking, effective communication. I aim to cultivate these basic skills in my students in classroom and most effectively in one-on-one mentoring. For me, teacher is embodiment of God and therefore I wish to set an example of morality as well as career perspectives to all these young and bright minds and make them ready for stepping into the real-world. It is a joy of giving the true values of life at the initial stages of their journey. Moreover, I want to consider myself as a student as all interaction and day to day experience provide me a platform for improving my own skills both in terms of expressing myself as well as be a great source of research ideas.

Computer science is a combination of theory, mathematics and practical field. Based on my own experience and from the feedback provided by students and attendees of different courses, I trust that students are keener on a hands-on experience in building small systems or working through problems rather than just a theoretical treatment of the subject. The impact of a hands-on experience and joy of making products stay for a much longer time. I would also like to keep in things in mind while I design a new course flexible. I would like to evaluate my students progressively over the semester through assignments, projects, and quizzes rather than just through tests, also, sometimes, conventional test can be replaced with writing a research paper or a major project. In an advance course, students are more dependent on web rather than class, a teacher should play the role of pied-piper by indoctrinating the joy of learning the various concepts and techniques. To facilitate this, I will keep my classes interactive. I will also introduce discussion sessions on open-ended topics. I would also like to invite guest lecturers or do a field trip for my courses whenever possible. I believe a student can more relate with his/her mentor than a conventional teacher. Lastly, I will ensure that my grading system does not penalize students for doing more exploratory work rather than a results-oriented work.

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