Recall a recent conversation that you found to be very satisfying and thought provoking. How often do you have the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations about teaching and learning with your peers?
Recently, the faculty and staff of the CLA Course Transformation Program (CTP) gathered to do just that. A west bank conference room was transformed into a café to set the stage for great conversation with tables situated for small group discussion dressed with tablecloths layered with paper, a vase of flowers, and a basket of markers at the center.
One aim of the Course Transformation Program is to host faculty from around CLA and create opportunities for them to build connections, learn from one another, and share successes and challenges as they explore ways to enhance their high enrollment courses by leveraging technology. At their recent Café Conversation, participants discussed the following questions:
1. Where does a 'sense of community' in a learning environment come from? (classroom, professional peer network, etc)
2. What are the most simple, elegant designs that support deep learning within or outside a community?
During the conversation, ideas, questions, and patterns were noted through doodling and writing them out on the paper on the table. Ideas built upon other ideas and new connections were formed among the group. The participants said the following about the experience: "I gathered many great ideas", "I liked the interaction with other groups", "Questions were good - thought provoking", "I liked the World Café concept", "I had some great discussions", "I loved the bread! The food was great. I liked the format".
We applaud the current and past Course Transformation Program participants for all your dedication and effort toward enhancing undergraduate courses in CLA! If you are a faculty member and would like to know more about this program or have ideas as to how we can host more conversations like these to support your work, Jen Mein would enjoy having that conversation with you.
The Course Transformation Program is sponsored by CLA Undergraduate Programs and is offered in partnership by CLA-OIT and the Office of Information Technology with modest funding provided by the CLA Technology Grant Program.
About the Café method
The CTP Café conversations were based on the principles and format of the The World Café, a growing global movement to support conversations that matter in a variety of settings around the world. The method can be adapted to an instructional environment, even a virtual environment, to engage a group in meaningful conversations and learning. The Café is built on the assumption that people already have within them the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. Given the appropriate context and focus, it is possible to access and use this deeper knowledge about what is important.