The Faculty Fellowship Program (FFP) was created to help faculty at the University of Minnesota adapt to and thrive in a climate of change, and help the institution respond strategically to new and emerging environments. From 2000 through 2013, the FFP has provided more than 60 faculty the opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary learning communities that explored possibilities and good practices in technology-rich learning environments, produced scholarship in this area, and advanced faculty leadership around these issues.
In December 2013, we graduated our largest cohort. For 18 months, 16 fellows representing multiple disciplines and campuses met monthly in a seminar-like environment to discuss their ongoing efforts to reinvent their courses. This was also our last cohort, as the program has been sunsetted. We’re in a reflective mood as we look back at the program that matured along with the field of academic technology.
The Office of Information Technology originally invested in the Faculty Fellowship Program in 2000 because at that time it needed faculty cheerleaders for academic technology. We created, in effect, a community of interest that predated a robust culture of practice and scholarship around teaching and learning with technology. The program offered support to faculty as they developed projects that entailed course (re)design and learning technologies; it also brought together these motivated faculty and gave them time to talk, exchange ideas and information, and reflect. With each successive cohort, we built a network of mentors and champions who promoted excellence in teaching: Our fellows act as leaders in their departments and colleges; they engage in campus-wide committees and initiatives; and they help to guide national conversations in their disciplines.
Together we have co-managed this program for over a decade; Kim helped to initiate the program in 2000. Our admiration for the commitment of faculty and for their potential to enact positive and significant change on behalf of this institution and its students has only grown over time. We say to our fellows: It has been an honour for us to work with all of you.
Lauren Marsh and Kim Wilcox