Lake Superior College’s Excellence in Teaching Festival By Kelli Hallsten
How do we harness the collective brainpower of our faculty? How can we help them develop professionally without breaking the bank on conference attendance? How can we call attention to the professional development opportunities that are offered on our campuses?
The answer to these questions at Lake Superior College (LSC) has been the Excellence in Teaching Festival, which just wrapped up for the third year in a row on October 25th. Hanna Erpestad, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, had the idea in 2010 for a week focused on professional development opportunities for faculty, and Kelli Hallsten, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) coordinator on campus, ran with the idea.
It all starts with a planning committee of faculty members. This committee’s primary duty is to choose a theme and come up with session ideas and ideal leaders of those sessions. A general call is also put out to the faculty for session ideas, and the schedule starts to take shape.
In the beginning, the Festival had no theme; it was simply “The Excellence in Teaching Festival,” and sessions were offered all day, Monday through Thursday, the week after MEA weekend. The second year’s theme was “Teaching and Technology,” and the committee tried to focus the session times in the afternoon. This year’s theme was “Active Learning” and followed the same later-afternoon session timing.
The range of session offerings these past three years has been an indicator of the knowledge base on campus. For example, sessions can:
• Introduce faculty to new technology tools: “Panopto”; “Google+”
• Provoke conversation: “Are Learning Styles Dead?”; “Do the Right Thing: Assign More Papers in your Classes across the Curriculum”
• Discuss teaching methodologies in the on-ground classroom: “Team-Based Learning: a transformative use of small groups in the classroom”; “Conjuring Up Criteria: Involving Students in Grading Rubrics Creation”
• Discuss teaching methodologies in the online classroom: “An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching”; “Great D2L Tools”
• Look at student issues: “Improving Success for Low-Income, First-Generation, and Minority College Students”; “Vanquishing the Vampires in the Online Classroom: a Discussion about Difficult Online Students”
The underlying principle is that when faculty members are able to develop professionally, students benefit, and campus surveys on CTL programming have indicated a high value placed on professional networking among colleagues.
In the past three years, sixty sessions have been offered during the Excellence in Teaching Festival with over 370 participants, proving that faculty professional development is a vibrant part of LSC’s campus community.