Contributed by Gina Bennett, College of the Rockies
It’s been a year of significant changes for the educational technology team at COTR. Like so many institutions, we’ve been gradually amalgamating our Ed Tech & Teaching-Learning support functions, & this trend was formalized a year ago with the creation of the ‘Inspire Centre.’ A cool name! And with that, we acquired the mandate to not only support academic innovation (including educational technology, distance delivery, the scholarship of teaching & learning & general support for a learning organization), but also to grow our nascent applied research program.
Additionally, we moved into a very nice corner of the campus, in a big bright space with windows (!!!). We created TWO new positions (Chair of Academic Innovation & Applied Research, and Instructional Designer) to join our team, & we’ve been gradually figuring out who does what. And as if that isn’t enough change, COTR spent the entire year undergoing a massive Strategic Planning process, & also hired a new VP Academic about halfway through the process.
In terms of educational technology, however, it’s been mostly business as usual. We continue to grow our online offerings; this year we’re seeing increased interest from our Trades departments. We continue to use Moodle as our LMS & will be upgrading to version 2.7 in July. We’ve been successfully using Kaltura to host video for our online courses (but may be switching to something else next year). We’ve acquired 4 new SMART Kapp boards – kind of like a digital flipchart – & are trying to figure out how we can use these effectively to engage people with mobile learning.
We’re not sure what lies ahead in the coming year. The Inspire Centre continues to evolve, defining & re-defining our focus, work, and positions. In response to our strategic planning process, we may be looking at substantially increasing our online distance certificates. And our growing focus on applied research means looking for more & more ways of bringing the community into the classroom (through experiential learning options) & the college into the community. Like most departments whose primary focus is ‘innovation enhancement’, we expect the road ahead to offer not only lots of bumps but also the occasional spectacular view.