Professional Learning Communities
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are inquiry groups (or "communities of practice") of 5-12 faculty and professional staff members who meet bi-monthly to learn about a topic of shared interest related to teaching and learning in a collegial and supportive context. In addition to an annual cohort learning community for new faculty members, past PLC topics have included teaching writing, undergraduate research, the first-generation college student experience, issues of diversity in teaching and learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Professional Learning Communities for 2012-2013
2012 New Faculty PLC
2012-2013 iPad PLC
At the beginning of the 2012 - 2013 academic year, nine faculty participants joined a professional learning community in order to explore together how iPads might be used in their classrooms. Their year-long exploration will be the continuation of a two-year pilot, launched last year by a cohort of their peers during the 2011 - 2012 academic year. Current participants are experimenting with new pedagogical strategies and methods made possible by mobile computing devices, such as iPads.
The community's explorations are framed in part by Randy Bass' essay, "Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education" and structured by two themes: "Toward a Paper-Less Pedagogy" and "Exploring the Cloud Classroom." The first theme shapes current sessions, during which faculty members investigate how iPads can be used to read eBooks, especially electronic textbooks. Soon, participants will learn how iPads can be used to reduce the amount of paper and other print products produced and consumed in the classroom; a core idea is to explore how iPads can facilitate sustainable pedagogical practices in the classroom and beyond.
During spring semester, faculty members will inquire as to how iPads can be used to enhance traditional, blended, and online instruction and also gain facility in finding, using, and creating open educational resources. At the conclusion of the program, all community members will share their findings during a public Common Hour.
New Faculty PLC and Mentoring Program
Andrew Mills, CTL Faculty Associate, New Faculty Programming
Department Chair, Religion and Philosophy
As the CTL's Faculty Associate for the 2012-13 year, I have been focusing on new faculty programming and orientation. There is a fantastic group of twelve new faculty at Otterbein this year, and it has been a pleasure to spend the Fall semester working with them. They bring a wide range of experience and disciplinary expertise to campus, and they are all dedicated teachers who are highly committed to seeing that their students succeed both in and outside of their classrooms.
There are two programs that the CTL is leading to help new faculty: the New Faculty Professional Learning Community (PLC) and the New Faculty Mentoring Program. Many of the new folks are participating in both programs.
The New Faculty PLC, which is being co-facilitated by me and the amazing Shelley Payne (HSS), has met roughly every other week since the beginning of the semester. We have discussed student motivation, the student-centered learning paradigm, and classroom assessment techniques, among a host of other issues. These meetings--as those of you who have participated in PLCs yourselves well know--have been, in addition, an opportunity to decompress after a long and hard week and to find support and advice from a community of talented and compassionate colleagues. Many of us in the PLC will be heading to the International Lilly Conference on Teaching and Learning at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio the weekend before Thanksgiving. Lilly Conferences are a wonderful opportunity to hear about the latest advances in pedagogy and most people return from these conferences eager to try out in their classrooms new techniques that they have learned from the many fascinating conference sessions.
The New Faculty Mentoring Program works to pair up the new faculty with mentors from the, well, "not new" faculty at Otterbein. We host a series of panel discussions on teaching, scholarship, service and (the elusive) work-life balance. The sessions on teaching and scholarship happen this semester, and the other two sessions will take place in the Spring. We are grateful for the participation of the many experienced Otterbein faculty who have stepped forward as mentors to our new colleagues.
This is truly an amazing group of new colleagues, and if you haven't had a chance to speak with them, please do make an opportunity to do so. They bring talents as scholars and teachers to Otterbein, and I know that our community is better because of their presence on campus.
Professional Learning Communities for 2011-2012