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Faculty resource center thriving after merger
Every semester, Columbia’s Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence hosts workshops to provide faculty with the opportunity to share ideas with peers and learn new teaching and technology skills for the classroom.
This spring’s workshops are “Collaboration Tools in Moodle,” “Rubric and Grading Skills on Moodle,” “Using the iPad in Your Classroom,” “Introduction to Final Cut Pro X” and “The Fulbright Difference: An Information Session and Teaching to Transgress,” based on the book of the same title by author bell hooks.
“We do not see ourselves as a remedial site, we are not here to fix what is broken, but more to inspire and to be a location for knowledge that is shared between instructors,” said Lott Hill, executive director for CITE.
The center has a total of approximately 40 fellowships, or communities of interest, that fall into five main categories: Innovation, Moodle, Virtual Learning Community, Timothy J. Densmore Service-Learning and Cross-Curricular Collaboration, according to Hill.
CITE is the result of a 2012 merger between the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Center for Instructional Technology. The department is a place for Columbia faculty to refine their teaching processes, according to Hill.
Hill said CITE is beneficial in multiple ways and the primary function is to provide a place for the community of teachers to come and discuss issues that pertain to learning in the classroom. Teachers have the opportunity to speak to collegues outside their specific disciplines as well as in their fields.
According to Hill, CITE has been working with the deans’ offices and various department chairs to determine what support the faculty needs, such as learning how to create engaging classroom environments and integrate technology into teaching.
“Because of limited budgets, we can’t possibly offer support in every single area that faculty may identify, but the primary areas of support are those around the use of technology, either in the classroom or to support classroom learning,” Hill said.
Michael Humphreys, an adjunct faculty member in the Film & Video Department, began teaching at Columbia in 2001 and started attending CTE and CIT seminars during his first year at Columbia, which helped improve his technology skills and teaching methods,he said.
According to Humphreys, the center has improved the program since he began attending CITE. Those in charge are listening to professors’ suggestions for workshops and accommodating the requests as best they can, he said.
“One of the most important things about the program has been the interaction that I’ve had with instructors from other
departments,” Humphreys said. “[It] is wonderful because we all learn from each other and pass [on] to our students and our classes and CITE and its precursors have helped to instill that in the instructors who have been in the workshops.”
Humphreys said while he uses Moodle in his classes and believes it is useful, there is no substitute for the one-on-one contact technology cannot replace.
Humphreys said the workshops are angled toward recently hired and adjunct faculty, but full-time professors also attend.
CITE is offering less computer training because Lynda.com, a web tutorial tool, has now become the main resource for professors and students, he said.
Soo La Kim, director of CITE, said a new improvisation workshop that will run for the second time on April 19 will help the classroom dynamic by promoting communication between faculty and students.
“One of the key skills in improvisation is listening really well to the other people in the room,” Kim said. “That is one [workshop] we are really excited about.”
David Noffs, instructional specialist in the CITE Department has been at Columbia since 2005 and said employees were let go when the CTE and CIT merged into one unified department. Noffs said there is a lot of work left to do because teaching is a very dynamic field, but CITE has been advantageous about filling the gaps.
Noff said he thinks the merger is positive and brings a better perspective to faculty.
“I think bringing together the technology and the pedagogy is a tremendous area of growth for us in our department, and it really makes more sense with modern education to do that,” Noff said.