3 Questions About Centers for Teaching and Learning

What I would have asked if I were attending the POD conference.

October 11, 2015

I wish that I was going to the 2015 POD Conference

Are you going?

Since I’m unable to attend the meeting, here are 3 Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) questions that I would have asked:

Question 1: Are Centers for Teaching and Learning gaining a greater thought leadership voice within individual campuses and across higher education?

There is an explosion of interest in learning. Part of this elevated interest can be traced to advances in our theoretical and empirical understanding of how learning works. The scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) is finding a wide audience across higher education. All the excitement around online learning, (both open and traditional), has also directed more attention to teaching and learning. Learning analytics promise to bring more evidence-based practices into course design and teaching.

How has all this increased interest in learning translated into in the ability of Teaching and Learning Centers to have strategic influence on campus? Are CTL leaders getting a seat at institutional leadership tables? Are postsecondary reporting structures changing to encompass the priorities of the CTL profession? What are examples of schools where Centers for Teaching and Learning are operating at high levels of visibility and campus thought leadership?

Question 2:  How are CTL organizational structures and staffing levels changing?

I keep hearing about schools that have reorganized and reconstituted their teaching centers. From what I can pick up, it seems as if their is an expansion of the CTL mission to encompass more campus activities. Digital and experiential learning initiatives seem to be being brought under the CTL roof. Instructional designers and assessment experts seem to be joining CTL staffs.

What I don’t know is if this is a real trend, or if I’m just assuming that this trend is real from the non-representative stories that I’m hearing? Is there data on nationwide changes in CTL mission, headcount, and organizational structure? Who collects and disseminates this CTL organizational data?

Question 3: How is the relationship between CTL organizations and departments of Academic Computing changing?

My experience is that instructional designers and educational technologists often work in Academic Computing departments. Historically, the Centers for Teaching and Learning focus on faculty development, and the Academic Computing units run the learning management system (LMS), as well as work with faculty on technology-enabled teaching.

From what I’ve seen, however, the divide in the work between the CTL and Academic Computing is breaking down. Instructional designers are all about learning, with technology only one of the methods that they use. CTL and Academic Computing professionals share a similar grounding in pedagogical theory, and have similar goals for collaborating with faculty to improve learning.   I’m curious about how all this plays out in how CTL and Academic Computing units work together? How does an increasingly shared mission, and common theoretical and academic orientation, translate organizationally and logistically?

How would you answer these questions?

What CTL questions would you like to have answered?



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