The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) opened its doors at Luther College in September 2019. Directed by Kate Elliot, CELT promotes student success by providing a space for faculty members to gather to learn inclusive, innovative classroom practices and to collaborate with and learn from peers across disciplines. No one could have predicted how valuable this center would be when the shift was made to distance learning in mid-March.
As signs started to point to the inevitable shift to online learning, CELT assembled a team that would be ready to help faculty members make the switch. The team put together a landing page for faculty called Moving Your Courses Online Rapidly. The page includes video training and written instructions on how to make the most of the digital tools available to faculty. CELT also offers in-person consultations to faculty with specific needs; the team troubleshoots software issues and gathers new digital media resources.
It's not only establishing the means of teaching and the content that are of high priority for CELT, relationship sustaining and building is as well, especially during these isolating times.
"The challenge is how to keep the sense of connectedness and the relationships that are the core of a residential liberal arts college experience," said Sean Burke, associate dean and director of faculty development. "We're trying to help faculty think through how to do that through more limited means, like one-on-one conferencing or breaking your class into small groups that can do some Google Hangouts with each other."
For some faculty members, like Jacki Wright, associate professor in health promotion and exercise science, the world of online teaching was totally foreign. Now, Wright says she is happy to have CELT as a resource and ultimately believes this challenge has made her a better teacher.
"I had to learn new technology quickly but have found this process to be stimulating, challenging and fun!" Wright said. "One of the positives about this experience is that I have to think more outside the box to discover creative ways to engage students and keep them excited to learn."
CELT has empowered professors to teach and connect with students even through a new kind of classroom so student learning prevails. For more information about this new center visit www.luther.edu/celt.
Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.