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New faculty eSpace offers place for collaboration

Wed May 6, 2020 at 04:06 PM

Before our COVID-19 closure and moving all of OU’s classes online, Kieran Matheison, associate professor of Management Information System at OU, began to build an online community for OU faculty to share ideas, encourage each other and collaborate to learn from one another. From that idea sprouted the OU Faculty Teaching Community eSpace. 

“Right now, if faculty have a good teaching resource to share or have a question, they have few options on how to share that beyond colleagues in their department or anyone with whom they have happened to connect,” said Christina Moore, virtual faculty developer, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. “e-LIS has had an eSpace like this for a specific groups of faculty, such as online faculty and Quality Online Teaching Certification courses, but these are not open to everyone and are not often used to build faculty-to-faculty discussions.”

Moore said no collaboration among faculty members results in a lack of diversity in teaching ideas. She said one of the reasons faculty members come to CETL is to network with faculty and get ideas beyond their discipline. Matheison, who served for a year as the CETL Faculty Fellow, wanted to develop a tool that was similar to Google Groups and listservs often found in professional organizations and academic discipline groups. 

“Since last winter, Kieran worked with CETL and e-LIS to build an eSpace that could not only provide a discussion forum, but allow faculty to post resources for one another and search a database of OU faculty by their teaching interests in specialization,” said Moore. She said there were some logistical issues, but CETL and e-LIS worked together to make sure that it was just right before launching it to the faculty. 

Once classes moved online, the team worked to launch the OU Teaching Community eSpace as soon as possible. 

“Faculty not only need to bounce ideas off of other faculty, but get reinforcement that their challenges are real and their ideas are helpful,” said Moore. 

The OU Teaching Community eSpace is open to anyone who teaches courses at OU. While the eSpace is maintained by e-LIS and CETL, the space is meant to be faculty-led. Right now, the challenge is creating awareness of the eSpace and encouraging faculty participation. 

“Community is more important than ever right now,” said Moore. “My hope is that this discussion space is perceived as a place to talk about teaching generally, not online teaching specifically. We will inevitably be talking about "online teaching" for a while due to the pandemic, but I'd like faculty to see through their discussions that it is all teaching. Whether their teaching to students sitting six feet apart, in a packed-lecture like the days of yore, or teaching fully online, creating impactful learning experiences still requires the same planning and care.”

To learn more about the community or to join in the discussion, visit the OU Teaching Community eSpace and login with your NetID