“The importance of this outreach initiative is the collaborative effort by which these seven institutions have gotten together to share knowledge about faculty and instructional professional development,” said Aziza Ellozy, director of CLT and professor of practice. “There is the specific purpose of improving teaching and learning. We hope this would develop into a regional collaborative network of centers devoted to this aspect of faculty professional development.”
The conference, titled Challenges and Practices of Pedagogy and Instructional Technology: Professional Development Exchange for Palestinian Educators, featured plenary sessions and workshops presented by a team from CCNMTL, Teachers College and CLT. Topics of discussion included media analysis and social pedagogies, creating learning communities, peer instruction, teaching with multimedia, empowering students through reflective learning, and learning and teaching with mind and concept maps. The conference also involved demonstrations on methods of flattening hierarchies, concepts of teaching without a master, and the rules of sharing and publishing.
“The target is to enhance long-term education and assimilation of learning material,” said Ellozy. “With a general theme of active learning, the conference explored naturally inventive methods in promoting a more effective learning environment in the classroom.”
Spurred by formerly established efforts to collaborate with Palestinian educators in building their own centers of teaching excellence, the conference invited faculty members from five universities in Palestine: An-Najah National University, Hebron University, Bethlehem University, Palestine Technical College and Palestine Technical University. The weeklong event presented all parties with opportunities for professional networking, institutional collaboration and future research among respective institutions.
“The collaboration with Palestinian educators initially began as a two-year, capacity-building initiative with three Palestinian universities,” said Jonah Bossewitch, technical architect at CCNMTL and PhD student at Columbia University. “Through a World Bank grant, workshops and study tours were established for Palestinian faculty members. The initiative will enable these educators to build their own centers for academic excellence. These centers will act as vibrant hubs that bring together faculty members, librarians and technologists, as well as connecting Palestinian universities to the worldwide community of educational technologists.”
For Palestinian faculty members, the event presented a valuable networking and learning opportunity. “The conference has been incredibly useful in terms of discussing and exchanging experiences with other universities,” said Waleed Attallah of Bethlehem University. “I am personally here to expand my knowledge of civic engagement, community-based learning and how best to foster discussions with students. The conference has raised a lot of questions in my mind regarding how I should be approaching community-based learning and my previous methodologies.”
Dana Adas, professor at An-Najah National University, particularly benefited from the sessions given by AUC faculty members. “They explained realistic applications of teaching methodologies that have worked, not just theoretical ideas,” she said.
CLT promotes excellence in teaching, including the effective application of technology to the teaching and learning process. CLT supports faculty members in their efforts to enhance the quality of instruction by providing them with the opportunity to rethink their teaching, explore the effective application of technology to the teaching and learning process and help create a stimulating learning environment. The center keeps a spotlight on teaching through a variety of programs, services, workshops and lectures, including orientation for new faculty members, a biweekly newsletter, midsemester assessment, instructional design consultations and the Student Technology Assistant program, which provides one-to-one training and support for faculty members who want to innovate their teaching by using diverse instructional technologies.
For more information on AUC’s Center for Learning and Teaching, click here.