Thursday, January 7, 2016

UNO Announces Center for Teaching Innovation

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The University of New Orleans announces the creation of the Center for Teaching Innovation, a faculty resource center that will promote new teaching methods that support the learning styles of the modern college student. The center, which opened this week, is coordinated by Beth Blankenship and is housed on the first floor of the Liberal Arts Building. It will move to its permanent home in the Earl K. Long Library once the fourth floor renovations are completed.

“Student success is our number one priority,” said John Nicklow, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “And the way to make sure our students are successful is making sure we have the best trained instructors with pedagogies that are designed for today’s students.”

The center will build its portfolio of offerings over time. According to Blankenship, she will continue to hold various training sessions for Moodle, the interactive web-based learning environment used for coursework by UNO faculty and students. In addition to providing technology workshops, she will also develop training modules on classroom practices. The goal is for faculty to help students to achieve the best possible learning outcomes.

“We want to address the most important questions on the topic of instruction. ‘What’s the future of the 75-minute lecture? Is that going by the wayside? Is that something we need to at least have alternatives to? What are the learning styles of students we’re getting out of high school now?’” said Blankenship.

According to Nicklow, many universities have similar centers. The ones that are most successful, he said, are those that have the right level of outreach from the center and sufficient engagement from faculty members. 

“Our goal is to make better teachers,” Nicklow said. “We can do that by making sure our faculty members have access to the latest knowledge, skills and technology."

In addition to the in-person and virtual training sessions that the center will offer, Blankenship also said that vendors will visit campus to give presentations to faculty on the various teaching technologies that are available in the marketplace.