Best Practices Matters: Strategies Beyond the Tool
Building a Bb initiative in your educational community is an evolving process. Cultivating a Best Practices sharing environment assists with imbedding and integrating the use of Bb tools into the instructional process. Embracing the Best Practices forum stimulates dialogue between faculty, for enhancing the teaching and learning process. Another benefit is promoting the use of technology tools in an educational community.
Thus, Best Practices indicates progression along a continuum of using Bb tools, toward building a community of collaboration. So how do you define this process in action?
The concept of Best Practices provides an opportunity for practice sharing between colleagues. The focus of this dialogue invites participants to be informal, while sharing strategies and tips for using technology tools for instruction. Supporting faculty who are featured speakers develops a rapport of trust. In addition, faculty members are empowered by being immersed in sharing techniques during this exchange. Within this forum, faculty members reinforce their use of instructional strategies. As a result, they become value added resources, available as point people for sharing technology tips with colleagues. This support from within can be a powerful resource for motivating others to begin doing things differently in their instruction. What can you do to initiate a best practices program?
In the pilot phase, remaining flexible and open will enhance your opportunities for expanding the outreach of a best practices program. One example of an established Best Practices program is at Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Michigan. This program originated in April 2002, with featured speakers facilitating topics focusing on using Bb and technology tools in instruction. The structure of the program includes two topics per session, expanding to include 5 sessions during the two main semesters. Scheduling is coordinated with a listing of dates, topics, and featured speakers being made available at the start of each semester. How has this program continued to evolve?
All featured speakers have voluntarily committed their time and expertise on diverse topics. Next, this campus-wide initiative includes featured speakers from all colleges, representing both full-time and adjunct faculty. Recent topics focus on Bb tools for enhancing instruction, laptops in the classroom, and e-Learning strategies. Since April 2002, the Best Practices forum has included 62 speakers over 30 sessions. The resource materials from Best Practices sharing sessions are posted in a Bb Organization, Faculty Resource Center, for faculty access. Sessions since the Spring 2004 Schedule are videostreamed, for viewing convenience by colleagues. What is your plan to revitalize with a Best Practices program?
Think about the roll-out of a Best Practices program in your educational community. Since Best Practices are topic driven, faculty may get their topic ideas from a variety of learning experiences. For example, this process may evolve as faculty participate in training sessions focusing on using technology tools, then receive support on specific courses or projects. Another method may evolve as faculty facilitate technology topics gathered from their experiential learning, thus resulting in a desire to continue learning while sharing with colleagues. Within the Best Practices process, the essence is in the creative strategies shared. Best Practices crystallizes the strategies for using technology tools in instruction. What is the role of the instructional technologist in the process?
Whatever the case, the role of the instructional technologist in Best Practices is to stimulate and guide discussion. This can be accomplished by connecting events and bringing them together by a topic driven need. This option involves working on a project with a faculty member, convincing this colleague to become a featured speaker, then conducting a specific topic driven workshop on this “hot” topic afterward. Another option is when a faculty member determines the selection of their topic. By providing follow-up to a Best Practices session, this results in a workshop facilitated with specific objectives for bridging technology program sessions together. Thus, this iterative process shapes the strategies that flow from the best practices. Where does this lead you?
In summary, connecting with faculty in their instruction gives a “boost” to your integration plan for implementing technology tools in the teaching and learning process. Best Practices bridges the gap for using technology within instruction, while also promoting an educational institution. The point is this, Best Practices Matters. Linda S. Wareck