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Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoPs): Engaging Faculty in the Scholarship of Teaching Joanne Gikas S. J. (Sandy) Schaeffer, III Advanced Learning Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoPs): Engaging Faculty in the Scholarship of Teaching Joanne Gikas S. J. (Sandy) Schaeffer, III Advanced Learning Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoPs): Engaging Faculty in the Scholarship of Teaching Joanne Gikas S. J. (Sandy) Schaeffer, III Advanced Learning Center FedEx Institute of Technology University of Memphis 901.678.4191

2 Why are we interested in pursuing Communities of Practice? Practical Encouraging behavior-modification in faculty around the notion of classroom innovation in support of “The Scholarship of Teaching” Research/Theoretical (1) Understanding what factors encourage faculty to actively participate in a CoP experience and (2) Beginning to understand and address sustainability issues relating to VCoPs.

3 Desired “Take-Aways” That reinvigorating the classroom experience is a valuable goal and should be a top priority of instructional technology support at our colleges and universities That CoPs (and more precisely, VCoPs) can be effectively implemented as a useful means of assisting faculty in their professional development efforts related to classroom innovation

4 The Scholarship of Teaching “Scholarship is not an esoteric appendage; it is at the heart of what the profession is all about…” and ”…to weaken faculty commitment for scholarship… is to undermine the undergraduate experience, regardless of the academic setting.” “But the reality is that, on far too many campuses, teaching is not well rewarded, and faculty who spend too much time counseling and advising students may diminish their prospects for tenure and promotion…the most important obligation now confronting the nation’s colleges and universities is to break out of the tired old teaching.” Earnest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

5 Reinventing the Classroom…

6 What is a VCoP? An online community that resembles real-life grass- roots associations of people –Churches, Synagogues –Community Centers A place where people go to share ideas, network, build relationships and discuss matters of individual interest. In our case, the focal point is educational strategies.

7 Examples of VCoPs

8 ALC Technology Fellowship Program 10 faculty, 10 different academic areas and backgrounds Working around a common theme (instructional technology skills) Extended cohort period (12+ months) Busy, fragmented schedules dictating a need to operate asynchronously Need to exchange ideas and collaborate in a highly- transparent, information-rich manner Participated in NLII’s VCoP pilot research initiative using iCohere platform

9 FIPP/CLII Multiple schools (Vanderbilt, UoM, Northwestern, Texas A&M, UT Austin, et al). Common theme: A VCoP about developing and maintaining VCoPs. Initial face-to-face component addressed through IP- based video-conferencing. Developing an “open-source” VCoP platform as a side-project within the larger community development effort. Enriches and extends UoM’s VCoP learning efforts.

10 Benefits of a VCoP

11 Benefits Opportunities for collaboration between, faculty, instructional designers, support staff and even students. Professional development opportunities include staying on top of current instructional methodologies, educational research.

12 Building a VCoP

13 Components to making a VCoP work “Ownership” and impetus from within the academic community – should not be IT-led. A core population of “IT-savvy” people from the faculty and research community that have an interest in and passion for experimenting with emerging technologies to transform academic activity within and across disciplines. A sound IT infrastructure including pervasive access to high-speed Internet connection, a positive IT/academic partnership environment, and a campus culture conducive to “pushing the envelope” to produce transformative change.

14 Additional Success Factors Motivated & tech-savvy subgroup within your local academic community. Appropriate IT-infrastructure (broad-based high- speed Internet, IP-based videoconferencing program at the desktop, ongoing support structure, etc.) Visible “nucleus” project from the academic community that indicates a strong benefit from VCoP resources. It should be large-enough to have value, yet small enough to not become cumbersome. A culture within the academic community that can assume long-term ownership of a launched VCoP initiative.

15 Synthesizing the Experience (Open dialog) What can be taken away from the use of a VCoP? How can it benefit –Faculty? –Support Staff? –Students? What are your local experiences?

16 Close-Out and Follow-Up Joanne Gikas 901.678.5958 S. J. (Sandy) Schaeffer 901.678.5715 Advanced Learning Center 901.678.4191

17 Bibliography Advanced Learning Center Technology Fellowship Program at the University of Memphis: FIPP Website & Project Portal: New Media Consortium (NMC), “2004 Horizon Report”: NLII Annual Review, “New Learning Ecosysystems”: NLII (National Learning Infrastructure Initiative) VCoP website: NLII Resources & Readings: urces/ urces/

18 Understanding Concrete Examples of CoPs Group exercise Break the audience into groups of 2-4 depending upon size and number them A, B, C. Assign them one of the following three scenarios: Rural church in a Nebraska farming community Publicly-supported urban community center in an ethnic neighborhood Online Blog related to preservation of the native wolf population in North America Answer the following questions : –What characteristics help you classify them as a CoP? –What are their primary success factors? –What are the sustainability factors that keep them going? –What are the risks to their continuance? –Do they lend themselves to VCoPs? If so, then what changes would you recommend in a VCoP environment to maintain their success as a CoP?

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