- Digital teacher talks are informal opportunities for instructors in the College of Nursing to share insights.
- Instructors build a community that encourages risk-taking and innovation with digital tools.
- Talks highlight best practices for teaching with technology and allow educators to problem-solve together.
When you’re trying something new it’s helpful to have friends in your corner. When you’re trying something new in the classroom the same logic applies. In the College of Nursing, their monthly Digital Teacher Talks program is an informal space for instructors to meet, share ideas and grow as they learn to integrate technology in their classroom in new ways.
“We started Digital Teacher Talks to give faculty a chance to share their ideas and inspire others,” said Dr. Wendy Bowles, assistant dean in the College of Nursing. “It’s really a way to open those lines of communication and create a pause during the day to talk about what they’re doing with technology.”
Developed as the College of Nursing integrated iPads into their program with Digital Flagship, the talks provide a way for instructors to share what they’re doing in a sustained and ongoing way.
“If you do a structured faculty development once a year, that’s great, but that’s not an ongoing process. A faculty member doesn’t just plan their course activities once a year,” said Dr. Bowles. “The purpose of Digital Teacher Talks are about taking the time monthly. It’s not about what you do once a year at a training, it’s about what you do every day as a teacher.”
The teacher talks are a space for instructors to share successes, but it’s also a place for educators to find community and work through challenges.
“It can be really nerve-wracking, the first time you try something new with technology in the classroom,” said Dr. Bowles. “It can be intimidating and you want to feel confident with technology. By doing the teacher talks it gives people that space to share information and practice together.”
By sharing their successes and challenges together on a recurring basis, the College of Nursing encourages instructors to continue innovating in their instruction with the ultimate goal of ensuring that their graduates are prepared for life outside the classroom.
“We live in a digital world, you use technology in healthcare constantly and our students need to not only be able to use it, but use it well,” said Bowles. “When you use technology in a learning environment it provides a different level of engagement. The research shows us that the academic outcomes are much greater than when the students are actively engaged.”
Try it yourself
Considering starting a similar program in your department or office? Here are some tips from Dr. Wendy Bowles.
- Start a schedule but keep it informal. Don’t worry about planning months in advance, get a few people to sign up and let instructors volunteer or nominate their peers as you go. That way you keep the sessions flexible to the needs of instructors.
- Make it a break in the day. Their sessions are held over lunch so people can eat and chat, it also makes scheduling a little easier.
- Let instructors lead. This is a time to share information, encourage participants to mold the time to best fit their needs.
Visit the Teaching and Learning Resource Center to find helpful guides for digital tools provided by the university and workshops you can attend to learn more about leveraging technology in your course.
Final words of advice from Dr. Bowles?
“Giving people the space to share their expertise and try something new draws them in. A lot of times you’ll get a couple of people to come at first and then they’ll talk to others. I think that the word gets out over time and people do come together. It’s not forced or required, it can just be fun.”