Communities of Practice
Are you curious about how you can embed gloabl learning in the classroom? What about inclusive teaching for equitable learning? You might want to explore digital fluency across the curriculum or how to support LGBTQ+ students in your courses. All of these opportunities and more are available through Communities of Practice.
What is a Community of Practice?
A Community of Practice is a faculty learning group of 8-12 people who share a common concern, passion about a topic and come together with a facilitator to deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting with each other on an ongoing basis (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002 p. 4). At Weber State, these communities of practice are groups of faculty and staff who commit to regularly scheduled sessions on a focus area in teaching and learning followed by actions such as planning and trying out the techniques discussed in the group. Your community will provide a supportive environment where members can experiment with new approaches to teaching and learning, share successes and challenges, and/or engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) through collaborative research projects and dissemination of instructional practices and tools. (Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, & William Snyder, 2002).Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)
What are the goals of a Faculty Learning Community?
- To promote faculty interest in teaching and learning, especially for undergraduate students.
- To create collaborative spaces in which faculty connect with colleagues across disciplines.
- To promote the exploration and study of theoretical and practical perspectives on teaching and learning.
- To pilot short term or semester-long activities in classes or in our broader work with students.
- To increase faculty capacity to apply evidence-based research to undergraduate education.
- To cultivate reflective practitioners by reflecting upon individual and collective experiences.
Participants in learning communities should be able to demonstrate at least two of the following:
- Integrate research-based, learner-centered, and/or inclusive pedagogies in their teaching. Related activities could include reviewing and revising course materials such as syllabi, learning outcomes, and class activities.
- Leverage collaborative relationships with colleagues across disciplines on topics related to learning-centered instructional innovation and student success. Related activities could include sharing experiences, successes, and challenges with colleagues in the learning community; providing feedback on observations and/or research design and implementation.
- Disseminate practices and scholarship with the broader teaching community at and beyond WSU. Related activities might include sharing work through presentations, sharing instructional resource materials, and/or presenting findings at a CETL event, an external venue or through publication.
What are the Benefits of Joining a Community of Practice?
- Participants become members of a community of peers with shared interests in teaching and learning at WSU.
- The community provides an inclusive space where members share experiences, ideas and strategies about teaching; experiment with evidence-based practices; build skills; engage in SoTL research; and reflect on their roles as educators.
- Each learning community is given a $500 budget to be used as the group determines will best meet the needs of the group (ie, books, supplies, lunches, etc.).
- Members of learning communities can include their participation as professional development efforts to improve teaching on tenure and promotion documents and faculty annual reviews. When you make changes to your teaching based upon your participation in a faculty learning community, you can explain those changes as innovations in the aforementioned documents.
- Participation in a Faculty Learning Community is part of the “Ten Before Tenure” initiative.
Community of Practice Expectations
- COP members will actively prepare for, attend, and participate in community meetings. (COPs will likely meet once or twice a month, depending on the group and its goals. The semester schedule will be set during the first meeting).
- Each group will submit an executive summary and reflective analysis of their COP participation by May 1, 2023.
- COPs will be expected to share their learning, activities, and their reflections at the Thrive Symposium during Spring Semester.
- Each COP will also provide some sort of deliverable that can be shared with a larger audience (either at WSU or an external venue). For example, you could select one or more of the following options:
- Provide instructional resource materials (instructional tools, teaching strategies, videos, annotated bibliographies, presentational materials, etc.) on the topic of their COP for the larger teaching community at WSU.
- Present their work at a conference venue beyond WSU.
- Publish the findings of their work (through portfolios, white papers, academic journals, etc.)
2023-2024 Communities of Practice
Facilitator: Deana Froerer
Both long-time and newer adjunct faculty will share their academic experiences including how they came to adjunct at WSU, what motivates them to continue teaching as an adjunct, the changes they have seen relating to what is required to stay current with the needs of the newest generation of students i.e., experiences that have the potential to contribute to a best practices approach teaching iGen/Gen Z students. This community of practice will facilitate communications, connections, and community building among Weber State's adjunct faculty members.
AI IN THE CLASSROOM
Facilitator: Valentinas Rudys
The "AI in the Classroom" community is a dynamic and forward-thinking group dedicated to exploring the potential of artificial intelligence in educational settings. Our primary objective is to investigate how AI technologies can enhance teaching and learning experiences, making education more accessible, personalized, and effective. We will collaborate on research projects, exchange innovative ideas, and share best practices for integrating AI tools and methodologies into different subjects and educational levels. We strive to create innovative educational experiences that foster intellectual growth and prepare students for the challenges of the future.
ACTIVE LEARNING WITH LARGER CLASSES
Facilitator: Tim Herzog
The challenges of engaging students are compounded with larger classes as the ability to interact with each student becomes more difficult. I'd like to gather people together who are working in larger face to face classrooms to talk about strategies, challenges, successes, failures, and the latest research. I can imagine reading articles together, visiting each others classes, problem solving, and experience sharing, but I would want the group to drive the direction of the conversation and how we spend our time. Personally, I am very interested in how active learning classes impact our diverse student body and how we can make our environments and practices more inclusive. It would be great to have a blend of folks who are mainly focused as practitioners as well as people who do research in how students learn. I do think that best practices have lots of carry over with smaller classes as well so if you are interested in active learning, please join the conversation.
ANTIRACIST TEACHING AND LEARNING PRACTICES
This will be an action oriented group based on the foundations of antiracism in teaching and learning practice. This group is ideal for those who have taken the ACUE Equitable Learning training or the Introduction to Antiracism class and are ready to transform their learning environments. Those courses are not prerequisites, and anyone interested in antiracism is welcome to join.
BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE DATA CULTURE AT WSU
Facilitators: Ivana Fredotovic & Daniel Jensen
The higher education sector is facing increasing pressure to commit to data-informed decision-making throughout the institution. Faculty, department chairs, advisors, student services personnel, and even our students share different levels of data literacy skills. As such, we need to work toward making data accessible in a user-friendly format, support institutional efforts to increase access to information, increase data transparency, and enhance data literacy skills.
The focus for this Community of Practice (CoP) will be on cultivating a culture of data literacy at WSU. Data literacy will be defined as the ability to read, work with, analyze, and communicate with data in context. Our objective is to empower participants with the skills to leverage data in efforts to make positive changes within our colleges, departments, and programs. The goal of this CoP is to broaden participants' understanding of how their respective areas impact the WSU strategic plan and provide them with the ability and opportunity to develop data-informed strategies to improve relevant metrics. Through this collaborative effort, we aim to develop data-informed strategies to support student success.
CEL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
Facilitator: Joseph "jo" Blake
The Center for Community Engaged Learning aims to collaborate with asset-rich communities to nurture sustained social change. The Community Engaged Learning COP will introduce diverse approaches to Community Engaged Learning theory and practice to support participants' teaching practice and the development of one or more proposals for community-engaged learning courses.
Facilitated by CCEL Faculty-in-Residence and Dance Program Director jo Blake, we invite the participation of up to ten (10) WSU faculty and staff members to meet throughout the 2023-24 academic year Members of the CoP will explore community engagement pedagogies, student reflection design, reciprocal partnership building, community research models, community project design, and a variety of additional topics. Members and many of Weber State University’s community partners will also network with one another.
This is a great opportunity for faculty looking to incorporate community engagement into their courses and those seeking to produce community-engaged research. Staff involved as adjuncts and their student leaders could also benefit from this Community of Practice as they consider effective community engagement methods.
- Attend, prepare for, and actively participate in six (6) of the seven (7) Communities of Practice session
- Successfully apply during the spring semester to have one (1) or more courses designated with the CEL course attribute
- Present with the CCEL CoP at the spring Faculty Symposium
- Present CoP project at one’s college faculty meeting
Additional Opportunities for Participants:
- Option to seek CCEL financial support to attend a local or regional conference focused on Community Engagement in Higher Education
Participants: CoP participants may be WSU faculty and staff employees with instructional roles. To participate, complete the online application and submit it by the deadline. You are invited to provide information on 1) past community projects or experience and 2) why you want to participate in this practice and what you hope to gain from this experience. Priority will be given to participants interested in long-term projects and instruct upper division and/or graduate level courses.
INCLUSIVE TEACHING FOR EQUITABLE LEARNING: ACTION RESEARCH
Facilitators: Colleen Packer, Melina Alexander, Robin Haislett
This Community of Practice provides an opportunity for participants to complete an action research project focused on inclusive teaching practices consistent with the focus of the recent ACUE course sponsored by the CETL over the last year or so (including this fall's group). Participants will create and complete an action research study focused on inclusive teaching for equitable learning in their own educational settings (F2F, virtual, online). Participants will present their research at the WSU Faculty forum and be eligible for an additional stipend for presenting at an external conference. The stipend amount is dependent on the number of faculty in the group. This project is funded in part through an RS&PG grant.
NEURODIVERSITY AT WSU
Facilitator: Brent Warnock
Neurodiversity is a critical concept to understand and appreciate for all of us who work, teach, and serve in academic institutions. Neurodivergent individuals experience, interact, and interpret the world in unique ways. Neurodiversity may include issues like mental health, ASD (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD, anxiety, and other issues that may impact learning. It is important as educators that we discuss, research, and prepare ourselves to know how to recognize, help, and assist all who are involved.
We will bring together a diverse group of professors, instructors, administrators, students, and staff to look deeper into how we can better recognize and assist neurodivergent populations here at Weber State University. As a community of practice we will formulate both the questions we need to ask and the process we can potentially use to help address some of these most important issues.
OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES: IMPLEMENTATION, INTEGRATION & IMPACT
Facilitators: Justin Kani, Andrew Stapley, and Melina Alexander
Our community of practice is dedicated to promoting equity and accessibility in the classroom through the use of open educational resources (OERs). OERs are teaching, learning, and research resources that are in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use, adaptation, and distribution.
We will meet to discuss essential aspects of OER implementation, including definitions, integration across disciplines, local connections, presentations of successful implementations, reflection time, dialogue and sharing, workshops, and the potential impact of OERs on education. Join us to learn about and implement OERs in your teaching, and make a transformative difference in education!
PEDAGOGY AMPLIFIED: DIGITAL FLUENCY ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Facilitator: Stephanie Speicher
This CoP will support faculty in facilitating the integration of digital pedagogy into classrooms and learning spaces across the university. Beyond simply rethinking how digital skills can be taught in the future, they will improve their teaching practice related to student learning outcomes by participating in and utilizing the tools that will be shared in the CoP. Over the course of two semesters, faculty will engage with short projects giving them the opportunity to produce artifacts demonstrating how to improve digital fluency among students and themselves!
SUSTAINABILITY ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Facilitators: Alice Mulder, Heather Root and Christopher Scheidler
The Sustainability Community of Practice will focus on fostering sustainability teaching and learning by faculty from across campus. The facilitators (from Geography, Botany, and English) of this year's SUS COP include faculty who have been engaged in sustainability teaching and training. The Sustainability COP will meet 8 times during the year, with fall semester meetings scheduled once we have our cohort. We want to meet in person to best foster a sense of community (and share treats!). Sessions will include:
- Definitions of sustainability, in its most expansive sense;
- Intersectional points of connection and relevance across the curricular landscape;
- Connections to our place: campus, community and region;
- Connections to high-impact educational experiences;
- Possible brief content area presentations (particularly relevant to our locality/region);
- Dialogue and sharing of resources, challenges and solutions with fellow faculty from an array of disciplines across campus; and
- Time to workshop, learn and implement with colleagues a step-wise process to help include sustainability in some way into your own course (the articulation of learning outcomes, the collection of resources and strategies for assessment).
For the 2023-2024 year, faculty who attend at least 7 of the 8 COP sessions and successfully apply during the spring semester to have one or more of their courses listed with the SUS course attribute (which indicates that course includes sustainability in some way) will be eligible for a $750 stipend at the end of the academic year. Space is limited to 12 faculty.
TENURE AND PROMOTION
Facilitator: Valerie Herzog
This will help tenure track faculty gain a better understanding of tenure and promotion requirements and offer support during the process. We will review the tenure/promotion policies, the autobiographical form, the template in Canvas, and go through each section of the file (teaching, scholarship, and service).