Annual Educational Innovation Conference “celebrates, inspires, informs”
Boston University’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) partners with faculty, students and administration to foster student learning and inspire effective and inclusive teaching throughout the University. The CTL’s Annual Educational Innovation Conference (AEIC) is a shining example of this commitment.
The 2019 conference was held May 3 at BU’s Metcalf Trustee Center at One Silber Way. The event welcomed nearly 150 faculty, staff, graduate students, and post-docs across many disciplines, showcased excellence in teaching and learning and explored collaborative visions of the future.
“We wanted to create a space for teacher-scholars to delve into aspects of teaching that make them curious, to imagine new possibilities, and to create new networks across the disciplines,” says CTL Interim Director Sarah Madsen Hardy when describing the focus of the annual conference.
Chris Dellarocas, associate provost for Digital Learning & Innovation (DL&I), kicked off the conference and emphasized CTL’s mission to cultivate teaching that is inclusive and centered on student learning.
“Each year, this conference showcases some of the latest ideas in teaching and learning from faculty innovators who have been putting them into practice on our campuses,” says Dellarocas. “It also provides an opportunity for faculty to discuss their own ideas with fellow-minded colleagues and the expert staff of the Center for Teaching and Learning.”
Before an audience rich with engaged participants, the Faculty Spotlight portion of the conference called on BU’s CAS Writing Program Director Chris Walsh, CFA’s Director of Arts Leadership and Innovation Jeannette Guillemin, Arts Administration Lecturer Wendy Swart Grossman, BU School of Medicine Professor of Pharmacology, Neurology, and Neuroscience Benjamin Wolozin, and World Languages & Literature Senior Lecturer Luluah Mustafa to present and share their expertise on several important and timely topics including the role of immersion games in the classroom, inspiring creativity, tools to incorporate WikiEdu into coursework and strategies to turn students work into teaching materials.
“The Faculty Spotlight presentations allow some of BU’s most interesting teachers to share a bit of what they do,” says Madsen Hardy. “These are teachers who are willing to question assumptions about teaching as we have known it, to explore new teaching challenges and opportunities as they emerge, and to change with the times.”
Professor Mustafa presented on the topic, “Turning Students Work into Teaching Materials.” It was her first experience presenting and says it was exciting to share ideas with colleagues, and that the CTL conference “is a great opportunity to learn, connect and share best practices.”
“I was so impressed with the welcoming atmosphere, encouragement, and support from colleagues all around. [Presenting] is a life-changing experience that boosted my confidence and made me more open-minded to share ideas regardless of the topic I’m teaching,” Mustafa adds. “It was also exciting to meet colleagues from a wide range of fields, make connections and take home tools and strategies to understand and implement effective professional learning in classrooms.”
According to Walsh, who presented “Hearts and Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Can Improve Student Learning and Make You Love Teaching Again,” AEIC is great opportunity to share ideas about teaching and tap in to “far-flung colleagues’ great enthusiasm for their work with students.”
“So much of our pedagogical energy goes into the classroom, and rightly so, but it was a real pleasure to feel that energy up there on the ninth floor [of the Metcalf Trustee Center], and to look out the window and imagine it rippling across BU,” he adds. “A great way to end the semester and to think about how to make the next one even better.”
Featured Pedagogies: Inclusivity & Collaboration
Following the Faculty Spotlight portion of the morning, conference-goers participated in one-of-two panel discussions: “Teaching Inclusively” or “Collaborative Learning.”
“BU is a big, global, urban university—one that presents great opportunities for students to learn together and across their differences. We wanted to feature pedagogies that help faculty to embrace these opportunities,” Madsen Hardy says.
Pary Fassihi, Ed.D., a lecturer with BU’s CAS Writing Program, attended “Collective Learning” panel discussion for several reasons: The discussion directly relates to her classroom dynamics, and was an opportunity for her to engage with colleagues and learn new teaching strategies.
“I teach academic writing to international students, mostly freshmen, in the Writing Program. Given our small classes of 15 to 16 students, we have the luxury of having students engage in team projects and group work, and one of our jobs, apart from teaching writing, is to make sure that the students learn how to engage successfully in peer-to-peer discussion and make the most out of their team collaboration experience,” Fassihi shares.
AEIC: Celebrates Learning 2019 and Beyond
Dellarocas, Madsen Hardy, and the CTL team were thrilled with this year’s turnout and look forward to identifying future topics and learning opportunities for the 2020 conference. “The convergence of digital technologies and learning science is generating unprecedented opportunities to innovate in the way we educate our students. AEIC aims to celebrate, inspire, and inform,” says Chris Dellarocas.