innovation-design-lab-thumb.png Establish educational innovation lab and associated resources and policies to promote rapid prototyping and ongoing experimentation in areas related to curriculum content and delivery.

WHY Not a Center for Teaching and Learning?

Folks have mentioned the idea of a Teaching and Learning Center since the early 2000s. It was an old idea in higher education even then. And our original proposals were built around having funding to do things we were already doing, not on real changes to the status quo. At this point it is a tired idea that gets recited like a mantra but no individual is actually sufficiently jazzed about it to take an entrepreneurial lead. It is an unimpressive idea (likely non-fundable as yesterday's news) that absorbs lots of funds, shifts resources from teaching faculty to teaching teaching faculty, and in general addresses perhaps real but probably not pressing problems (no one is complaining that the teachers around here are doing a poor job). Almost certainly does not contribute to recruitment or retention. What purpose does it usually serve? A small number of faculty who want to redefine themselves as teaching experts and a general desire on the part of faculty to talk to one another about teaching and have it emphasized as important. The latter can be accomplished through other means, the former is not the institution's problem to solve. There are many things that TaLCs do that can be done without one; how many of these have we even explored?

Alternative Vision

An alternative proposal: an education innovation design lab dedicated to exploring, developing, and adapting tools and techniques for majoring in the 21st century. It will bring the practices of design thinking and lessons from lean startups to the task of rethinking higher education from the inside. Version 0.0 will be conceptual and virtual built by redefining the work of select staff/faculty who are jazzed at the idea. It will NOT presume that faculty members do not know how to teach and that non-faculty members can help them learn how to do it. Only at version 1.0 will it need a space/staff. Initial focus on gathering a few examples of existing innovative teaching/learning here and a few from easy to access nearby institutions and packaging and branding these as a thing. Version 0.1 will be to plan a calendar of events for a semester. During this time we develop an innovation curriculum for workshops in curricular innovation. Version 0.2 Convince administration to dedicate fac dev funds to support series of workshops in which groups of faculty are trained in the art of course and curriculum redesign. Workshops built around the actual redesign of actual courses and curricula. By end of year one we can showcase, say, one redesigned major, 5 courses, 3 learning modules. Version 1.0 to take shape over the following summer. Fall workshops on tweaking spring courses and designing new majors. MORE TO COME…