December 2019:
Ringing in the New Year
Welcome to Transforming Learning! Each month, this newsletter will feature ideas to help make your teaching the best it can be. If you have questions about this issue or suggestions for future issues, please Kontact Karrin (your friendly Instructional Designer). You can also use the “Kontact Karrin” button at the end of this page.
The New Year is Almost Here!
Now that the fall semester is coming to a close, it's about time to start thinking about the spring semester. As you begin to plan your courses, it's a great time to consider making a resolution to try something new. Here are a few ideas:

Resolution 1: Offer more student choice.

Allowing students some voice in the classroom builds feelings of ownership - and when students feel invested in something, they are more likely to feel motivated and enthusiastic.

One idea: Why not try offering students options in terms of the type of assignment they can complete? For example, could students conduct an interview with someone in the field, write a book review, or conduct a site visit to demonstrate their understanding of a particular topic / concept? (Better yet - what about designing their own project from start to finish? Check out this chart of different project ideas for all types of learning preferences.)


Resolution 2: Try a new teaching strategy.

Do you ever feel like you are teaching on "autopilot"? If you're ready to mix things up, consider experimenting with a UTS (Unusual Teaching Strategy). How might you incorporate one - or more! - of these into your classes in the spring? (If you want to brainstorm possible ideas, Kontact Karrin.)

Resolution 3: Volunteer to share your "one best thing."  

Apple often asks its users to share their "one best thing" - their favorite tip, trick, or technique when using a particular iOS tool. Let's try that idea here at Shenandoah! If you are interested in sharing your "one best thing" with your colleagues, please Kontact Karrin. (It does not have to be related to Apple or an iOS.) All submissions will be shared in an upcoming issue of Transforming Learning

Resolution 4: Boost your creativity.

I am looking for a few volunteers interested in exploring ways to boost their overall creativity. If you decide to participate, you will receive a copy of Wreck This JournalEach of us will complete the exercises in the book and then meet at a mutually agreeable time in the spring to discuss the experience. Nothing more is required! Full disclosure: I have no idea how this will work out - it could be a stunning success or a full-on failure - but we won't know until we try. Interested? Please Kontact Karrin.

ISO An Extra Set of Eyes?

Do you need a peer observation for your application for promotion? Would you like feedback on your teaching? Are you interested in some simple tips and / or tweaks for your online classes? If so, please Kontact Karrin!

FITT Award
The Faculty Innovative Teaching with Technology (FITT) Award is an award given by the Faculty Senate’s Information and Technology Committee. This annual award recognizes one faculty member, or faculty group, per academic year who shows evidence of outstanding and innovative use of technology to improve student engagement and learning in any course format (face-to-face, hybrid, online). The range of acceptable entries is broad, such as the incorporation of a new technology or the use of an existing technology in a unique way.  

Any faculty (adjunct, PT/FT, etc.) member, or group of faculty, at Shenandoah University (SU) is eligible to be nominated for this award along with work completed at SU within the last three academic years.

Award and Presentation
Recipient(s) will receive a total award of $1,000 to incorporate or enhance the use of technology to improve student learning and a Certificate of Recognition. The award will be presented at the annual Full Faculty Meeting in May .

Nomination Process and Schedule 
Nominations can come from colleagues, from students in consultation with a faculty member, or from self-nomination and must be submitted to the Chair of the Information and Technology Committee by February 1.

Nominations are submitted via a Google Form and will include: 

  • Faculty member(s) name

  • Course(s)

  • Technology used

  • Statement of why the faculty member(s) should be nominated including how the faculty member’s innovative use of technology supports teaching and learning 

  • Evidence of the creative use of technology in teaching and its impact on the quality of teaching and learning in his/her course;

    1. addresses how the individual uses educational technology in a creative and innovative manner, 

    2. cites specific examples of excellence in which this individual has developed, adapted, adopted or incorporated technology for teaching and learning, and 

    3. describes why the individual should receive the award. When appropriate, nominations should illustrate how the nominee enables direct student engagement with technology to improve understanding and learning of the material.

  • A current CV and a brief biography;

  • Any other materials that support the nomination, such as the URL address of any instructional materials that the nominee may have on the web; and

  • Supporting evidence examples such as; email feedback, surveys, performance on assessments, students evaluations, etc.

All supporting materials need to be submitted via the nomination form by February 1.

The Information and Technology Committee will review the nominations and make a recommendation to the Faculty Senate by April 3.

Expectations of Award Winners
Recipients of the award will be required to:
  1. Use the funding to incorporate or enhance the use of technology to improve student learning.

  2. Make one presentation about the award to an SU campus audience.

In addition to the required  expectations, recipients are encouraged to participate in one of the following activities: 

  1. Assess the impact of the technology on student learning in a particular course.

  2. Help build a culture of teaching excellence in their departments, colleges, and the University by actively disseminating the results of their efforts through workshops, wikis, mentorship, publications, virtual showcases, classroom teaching demonstrations for other instructors, poster presentations, publications or conference presentations, or similar peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

If you have questions about the FITT Award or the process, please contact the Chair of the Information and Technology Committee, Erika Francis (
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