The CFE Faculty Showcase on Teaching, held on March 23 and 24 with virtual and in-person presentations, brought together instructors for valuable learning, sharing and networking.
In this new dual format and the first in-person event since 2018, the showcase drew nearly 150 unique attendees for presentations via Zoom on the first day of the conference and more than 100 individuals at the Carolina Club on the second day. The keynote alone, which Paul Hanstedt, director of the Houston H. Harte Center for Teaching and Learning at Washington and Lee University delivered over Zoom on the first day, attracted more than 100 people.
“There were valuable conversations among colleagues happening in each showcase session, whether online or in person,” said conference planning committee chair Emily Boehm, Faculty Development Consultant with the Center for Faculty Excellence. “We had a very supportive, collaborative planning committee this year, which helped the whole event run smoothly and made those connections possible.”
ITS co-sponsored event
ITS Educational Technologies (EdTech) co-sponsored the conference with the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) and the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services (OASIS). Along with Boehm and Marissa Stewart with the CFE, planning committee members were Bob Henshaw and Thao Nghi Tu of EdTech and Matt Osment of OASIS. In addition, EdTech staff provided Zoom support for all virtual sessions.
ITS has co-sponsored the showcase for many years and recognizes the value of celebrating teaching at Carolina by helping instructors learn from each other and connect with colleagues across disciplines at this event.
The showcase, said Suzanne Cadwell, Director of Educational Technologies and a conference attendee, is a “wonderful opportunity to see how some of the technologies ITS supports are being used in innovative ways to support teaching and learning.”
Attendees appreciated dual format
This was the ninth showcase. The conference, held every other year and open to UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff and students with instructional support roles, was last held in 2021 as a fully virtual event.
“More people are comfortable gathering for in-person events now and were happy to see at least a portion of the showcase return to the Carolina Club,” said Henshaw, the EdTech liaison to the Center for Faculty Excellence. “Still, many said how much they appreciated being able to participate remotely.”
The next showcase will be in fall 2024.
In a survey after the conference, attendees provided positive feedback.
“It was truly wonderful to hear all of the teaching innovations at UNC. I have so much more understanding of the resources available to support me as a teacher and mentor,” an assistant professor at the School of Nursing wrote.
A Natural Sciences teaching assistant professor wrote, “I learn as much from the person on my left and right as I do from the presentation.”
A Health Sciences assistant professor, meanwhile, wrote that presenting at the conference was “a really great reminder of the many different faculty who are often facing similar challenges across campus but sometimes don’t get the chance to talk with one another. It was a wonderful opportunity to brainstorm and connect with fellow thinkers and instructors.”
The showcase featured concurrent sessions from more than 40 instructors and two dozen disciplines. Speakers covered a wide range of instructional topics and of-the-moment academic concerns, including the role of artificial intelligence tools in classrooms. Every session was designed to be relevant to instructors teaching in diverse fields and course contexts.
Canvas session popular
A session about Canvas, the learning management system that is replacing Sakai at Carolina, was one of the conference’s most popular, drawing about 45 attendees. EdTech’s Tu facilitated the session. A School of Medicine clinical assistant professor wrote that the Canvas toolkit suggestions “were helpful as I am working on the transition.”
Tu said she “was delighted to see not only a high interest in this session but also the excitement from presenters and audience members talking and learning about the different tools available in Canvas. Our faculty are using these instructional tools in innovative ways to enhance their teaching, save themselves time, and help manage their courses — some of which have several sections, TAs, and even thousands of students.”
As for some of the different external tools EdTech was able to integrate with Canvas, Kalina Staub in Economics called recalculations in Gradescope “magical” and said she would “never go back to teaching without Gradescope.” Marsha Dopheide in Psychology and Neuroscience, meanwhile, passionately shared how Canvas “Blueprint is a lifesaver” in helping her manage Interdisciplinary Studies courses with several instructors.
What about motivating students who may be accustomed to passively learning? Lillian Zwemer in Biology discussed actively engaging students in the content by using strategically built-in quizzes in her Panopto videos.
“All of the teaching methods instructors discussed are ultimately to help our students be successful,” Tu said.