December 2020
As I write this, the second strangest semester of my academic career is drawing to a close. The strangest semester was, of course, last spring, but this fall was certainly unusual and full of challenges for both teaching and learning. I am continually impressed at the creative and skillful ways the Vanderbilt teaching community has adapted to the online and hybrid environments we faced this fall.

This year has been challenging, but it’s also been an opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher. Faculty and other instructors have figured out new ways to connect with and engage their students, and adopted technologies and pedagogies they’ll continue to use when the campus returns to something like normal.
The Center for Teaching has helped in that effort. We saw 844 faculty participate in our programs and workshops between May and November, more than double our usual participation. That includes 451 participants in our Online Course Design Institute and various learning communities, more than five times the level of program participation over the previous year.
As we look ahead to another unusual semester in the spring, the Center for Teaching is preparing a number of resources to continue supporting the Vanderbilt teaching community:
  • We’ll host more than a dozen teaching workshops and conversations on teaching in January, addressing such topics as accessibility in course design, online student group work, and active learning in Zoom classes. Plan to join a few sessions between January 4 and 22.

  • Can’t make a workshop or want to get started now on your spring course planning? Visit our Online Course Development Resource site for practical advice on planning, implementing, and assessing your online courses.

  • Our Brightspace support team will be busy responding to requests (, hosting workshops on Brightspace tools, and holding drop-in support hours. See elsewhere in this newsletter for some details.

  • Julaine Fowlin, the CFT’s new assistant director for instructional design, is available to consult with instructors on the design of their online and hybrid courses. Email to learn about this service or schedule a consultation
The extended winter break will be a good time to learn about various educational technologies you might adopt in your spring courses, including Top Hat (enhanced polling tools), GoReact (feedback on student videos), Perusall (collaboratively annotated readings), Proctorio (online exam proctoring), and Gradescope (grading management for teaching teams). Visit or email for more information.
That said, I hope your break is restful! And know that the Center for Teaching will be ready to help as you prepare for spring courses.
-Derek Bruff, Director, Center for Teaching

Leading Lines Podcast Featuring James Lang
In this episode, we talk with James M. Lang about distraction and attention, the subject of his new book. He is a professor of English and the director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption University in Massachusetts. 
Jim talks about laptop bans and classroom norms, the ethics of attention and cognitive diversity, and much more.

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
Spring Journal Club:
Investigating Student Learning

In this journal club we will explore different approaches that college instructors can use to investigate how and what our students are learning. We will discuss research articles that illustrate how a range of methods can be used to understand our teaching and our students’ learning, considering benefits and limitations of the methods for answering our questions. We’ll discuss opportunities for presenting and publishing our own investigations, considering the norms and practices common to both the SOTL (Scholarship of teaching and learning) and DBER (discipline-based education research) communities.
By the end of the year, participants will identify a research question they are interested in pursuing in their own teaching context and an approach they may use to answer that question.
We plan to meet twice monthly. If you REGISTER HERE by December 31, you’ll receive an email in early January to solicit input about meeting times.
Open to faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students at Vanderbilt.

Come Work at the
Center for Teaching! 
Each year the Center for Teaching (CFT) hires a number of graduate students as part of its efforts to mentor and train graduate students, including those serving as teaching assistants or instructors of record here at Vanderbilt as well as those interested in developing teaching skills for future faculty careers. The CFT has several types of positions available for graduate students for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Graduate Teaching Fellow – GTFs lead sections of the Certificate in College (CiCT) Teaching program; consult with graduate students about their teaching; facilitate workshops for graduate students at TA Orientation and throughout the year; and assist CFT senior staff with various ongoing and short-term projects, including the creation of online resources for the Vanderbilt teaching community. Learn more about the GTF Program.
Teaching Affiliate – The primary responsibility for Teaching Affiliates is to lead a cohort of incoming Teaching Assistants (TAs) through a day-long workshop at August’s TA Orientation. These workshops familiarize new TAs with the challenges and opportunities of working as TAs at Vanderbilt and help prepare TAs for the first few weeks of class. Cohorts are divided by discipline, and so the CFT seeks Teaching Affiliates from a wide variety of disciplines on campus. The Teaching Affiliate position is a 70-hour position, with most of those hours occurring in August 2021.
CiCT Facilitator – The CiCT Program facilitator will, alongside the Graduate Teaching Fellows, lead a section of the CiCT program.  The facilitator will read and prepare lesson plans, lead class sessions, and attend weekly meetings with the GTFs.  When the CiCT program is in session (8 weeks per semester), the approximate workload will be between 5-10 hrs/week.
These positions are great opportunities for graduate students to refine their teaching and presentation skills and network with graduate students outside of their department or program.
Applications for all three types of positions are due Friday, February 12, 2021.
Learn more about each of these positions and apply online by visiting the CFT's employment opportunities page.

Brightspace Updates
Most of us are using Brightspace more than ever in our teaching. These recent additions and reminders will help you get even more out of your online teaching with Brightspace.
  • Our most recent Brightspace update includes a new quiz setting that will allow students to retake a quiz but only retake the questions they answered incorrectly the first time. Read about this new quiz setting.

  • Are you recording your synchronous course meetings and posting them to Brightspace? We have a set of guides all about recording to answer all of your questions. View the recording guides.

  • Speaking of video, brush up on all the ways you can use Kaltura to include video in your online courses, including videos recorded through Zoom! Check out our Kaltura overview guide.

Instructional Design Consultations through iDesign
Vanderbilt University has partnered with the instructional design firm iDesign to make available a number of services to help faculty and other instructors prepare for online and hybrid teaching this fall. iDesign learning specialists are on-hand to assist with your course design and teaching effectiveness questions. If you have a question relating how to best implement a teaching strategy or best practice in your course, iDesign is here to help! Support requests can be submitted via or through the iDesign Faculty Resource Hub. You can self-enroll in the iDesign Faculty Hub. Self-enrollment instructions are here.

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