Whether leading workshops on NC State’s campus, sharing best practices via articles or presenting at conferences, the DELTA Faculty Fellows are building a stellar reputation.
Included in the DELTA Grants for the first time in the 2015-2016 cycle, the Faculty Fellows earn funding for around 40 hours of partnership activities. And according to Director of Instructional Support Services Stacy Gant, the Fellows’ enthusiasm for what they are doing leads them to contribute many more hours.
The inaugural cohort group selected as Faculty Fellows were from across three colleges: Dr. Kimberly Allen, Agricultural and Life Sciences; Dr. Ed Lindsay, Natural Resources; and Dr. Maria Gallardo-Williams, Sciences.
These three pioneers have traveled near and far to promote their research, discuss their teaching innovations and make interdisciplinary connections.
An unexpected benefit has been the sense of community that bonds the Fellows, explained Gant. The Fellows, who will be continuing for another year, expressed a desire to provide more opportunities for shared scholarship.
“This program recognizes faculty excellence in teaching effectively with technology, with the Faculty Fellows sharing their expertise via workshops, seminars and consultations, and encouraging and inspiring other faculty to explore the possibilities of leveraging technology to support their teaching,” said Associate Vice Provost for DELTA’s Instructional Technology Support Division Dr. Donna Petherbridge.
Historically, many NC State faculty and staff members have been invited to share their expertise in DELTA’s Teaching and Learning with Technology workshops. For some time, our senior management team has been interested in establishing a program to both showcase our outstanding faculty and to assist with peer outreach, said Gant.
“We’ve asked for favors over the years and so many faculty have graciously donated their time to teach for us, share their experiences from the trenches. Now we have this grant available to compensate recipients for their service,” she added.
Getting different perspectives from a select set of excellent teachers has proved especially helpful to the training team at DELTA. The reciprocal relationship includes sharing expertise both ways.
The Fellows act as a mini focus group of advisors for the training staff. In fact, their input resulted in a different scheduling paradigm for the Fall 2016 workshops. The series is divided into three block schedules. The first block is for beginners, the second block is for more advanced learners and the third block will comprise special topics.
The Inaugural Cohort
Let’s meet the first cohort group!
Dr. Kimberly Allen, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist and Director of Graduate Program
Youth, Family and Community Sciences
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
One reason Allen was drawn to the Faculty Fellows opportunity was to connect with faculty who were doing similar things in the classroom. Allen has a student-centered approach and was sure other faculty members outside her department did, too. So she applied to make more diverse connections.
“Some people aren’t aware of how much online and distance education NC State does,” said Allen. “It is so much more than on-campus students having access to flexibility. It is affecting our whole state.” She wants to measure the impact of online and distance education in North Carolina.
Allen, who teaches fully online, described how very important community is to her. “I do everything I can to intentionally build a community in my classes and my goal with the Fellows is to foster a strong community among the faculty whose interests lie in online education,” she added.
Building connections with other faculty, she said, has been a rewarding part of her experience as a Faculty Fellow this year.
She doesn’t consider herself a technology person, yet she teamed with Fellow Gallardo-Williams for a lunchtime best practices workshop about integrating video into courses.
One evaluation stated about the duo’s co-teaching, “This was a fantastic workshop. It provided great ideas for getting students to create videos for our classes and great ideas for evaluating the effectiveness of the videos that we use.”
“I like to use the tools that are best for student outcomes and I firmly believe that you have to reach your audience where they are with the tools that are best for them,” explained Allen. She laughed, it may take her a while to feel completely comfortable with the technology.
According to Allen, “Faculty members have a voice and a piece of the DELTA work. DELTA has the expertise in terms of technology and distance ed and faculty are the content people. Now we are integrated and it has the greatest potential for truly making change for how students are taught here at NC State.”
She described the experience as a Venn diagram with faculty and DELTA as separate circles. “The Faculty Fellows program is that piece in the middle where we are partnering to help students have a better learning experience,” added Allen.
“As usual, DELTA has made this easy and pleasurable. It has been a wonderful opportunity.”
When the second cohort of Faculty Fellows comes, Allen will be focusing her second year on building community among the Fellows.
Dr. Maria Gallardo-Williams, Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratories
Department of Chemistry, College of Sciences
Dr. Maria Gallardo-Williams is the epitome of a satisfied DELTA partner! “The large course redesign grant experience literally changed the direction of my scholarship,” she said.
Her gratitude and desire to share outcomes of her successes sparked her interest in serving as a DELTA Faculty Fellow. Still invigorated from her collaboration with DELTA, she eagerly applied for a Faculty Fellow grant and became one of three in the cohort.
She was excited to use the stipend to travel to conferences and to present about the work she has been doing to incorporate videos in the organic chemistry labs at NC State.
“Attending the Biennial Conference for Chemical Education has always been a dream of mine. As teaching faculty, I do not receive travel money so I was looking forward to speaking at the conference about what I have been doing,” she said.
Teaching the workshops with other Fellows was a lot of fun for Gallardo-Williams. The camaraderie with other faculty and being connected through the DELTA workshops was a happy side effect.
“We all use video and technology in our classes, but it is so fun to see different perspectives,” she added. The interdisciplinary composition of workshop attendees triggers ideas to try new approaches in her own teaching.
The biggest surprise for Gallardo-Williams is how much all the faculty care about their students. She recalled most questions in workshops she has presented were about student outcomes. “This is great for me to hear because I feel the same way! They ask, how can I use this to benefit my students. It is heartwarming that faculty at NC State care so much!”
After workshops, colleagues from all across campus ask questions and we share information. Discussing teaching techniques helps faculty foster interdisciplinary connections, which may not have happened without the workshops. “The technology is very rarely discipline-specific,” added Gallardo-Williams.
She enjoyed writing for DELTA News sharing her experiences in a non-academic environment. She hopes her words and shared knowledge will help other faculty members.
Gallardo-Williams mentioned another byproduct of becoming a Faculty Fellow; she reworked her Twitter account to be more academic. She finds it to be a really great tool for reaching a younger audience.
“It’s been a great learning experience for me and it has made me feel a lot more comfortable talking about teaching with technology. It is a two-way street, so whatever I have shared; I have learned more. It has been fun,” she said.
Dr. Edwin Lindsay, Assistant Professor
Department of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management
College of Natural Resources
Coming into his role as a Faculty Fellow, Lindsay said he had “no idea the impact would be as big as it has been. It is having a positive impact for faculty.”
Lindsay discussed how using technology has been a great experience for him. Previously he was awarded a DELTA Grant to apply gamification to an online course.
After that experience, he believes people relate him with working on creative teaching. He has given numerous talks and has been published in EdTech and Campus Technology magazines in relation to the earlier project.
Lindsay explained the potential is there for more cross-disciplinary efforts to formalize efforts across campus. “Gamification has so many opportunities for that. The tools we are utilizing and the activities we are doing can be applied to engineering and others as well. Unless we have built-in opportunities, the collaboration may not happen,” he said.
In describing what excited Lindsay about the DELTA Faculty Fellows, he credits the program with allowing each Fellow to have their own experience. Most similar programs expect everyone to follow the same path.
“This program gives you the ability to construct your own experiences while promoting what DELTA is doing. It’s a unique opportunity to create relationships with faculty outside of your department. That’s what I have been most excited about,” said Lindsay.
Cultivating connections with other Fellows and finding out what they are doing and how they engage students is important to Lindsay.
“I am finding out so much about what is going on with other disciplines that I wouldn’t know about if I weren’t a Faculty Fellow,” he said.
In addition to enjoying the opportunity to get in front of his peers, Lindsay described adding his designation as a DELTA Faculty Fellow to his email signature. He indicated he fields inquiries from other faculty about what it means.
“Honestly, I don’t know how someone who teaches with technology on this campus doesn’t know about the faculty services offered through DELTA,” he said.
At this point in his career, Lindsay said “It is all coming together as a Faculty Fellow where I can be reflective. The campus is fertile for more collaboration at this point. Together we have greater impact and DELTA may be the place for people to reconnect and partner with others.”
At the urging of the Fellows, Gant said the workshop scheduling process was redesigned to include a block schedule beginning Fall 2016.
Gant explained, “The training program now has a built-in group of advisors. Our goal is to offer workshops faculty need and want. This extra layer of input helps the training team make informed choices.”
The Faculty Fellows have received a positive response. In fact, sessions led by Fellows marked some of the highest participation of the 2015-16 offerings.
The first cohort of grant recipients will continue for another academic year. Three new Fellows were added to the mix this fall.
“We hope this trend will continue with the addition of three more fellows this cycle,” said Gant.
“I love that we are doing this program — it is recognizing faculty who have devoted a lot of time and energy in leveraging new and emerging technologies to support their teaching practices — and it is so important to recognize people for their good work,” Petherbridge said.
Petherbridge added that the program is creating “wonderful interdisciplinary collaborations for leveraging innovative technologies across disciplines.”