Director's Update for April 2020

Nick Monk: Smiling man with brown hair and tailored blue jacket.
Nick Monk, CTT Director

Hello again, and welcome to the CTT! I’m Nick Monk, Director of the CTT, and I’m in the privileged position of leading a team of dedicated and creative individuals who continue to generate a range of materials designed to support all our instructors in every college and school in the university. I want to share with you some of the things the CTT is doing at the moment, and also write a little about communication and connection – the things I immediately think of when I read this poem by Joy Harjo:

Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.

Joy Harjo in “Remember”

Harjo’s poem seems made for challenging times and reminds us that connection and communication are more important than ever in the present moment. If we imagine the university as a vast organic network then the human connection is what creates it, and human communication sustains it. Without connection and communication, nothing can function. This may seem an obvious point, but I believe it is one that is worth reiterating time and again as we face these uncertain times. Teaching for me has always been about the relationship between instructor, material, and student that we sometimes call ‘rapport,’ but is composed of both connection and communication. Sean Michael Morris, Director of the Digital Pedagogy Lab at the School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver, expresses it best, I feel, as we seek to maintain, form, or develop relationships with our students online

[A] transformative digital pedagogy is one which looks first at the relationship between teacher and student, and at the multivalent ways that learning flows between them. Paulo Freire named parties in a classroom “teacher-student” and “student-teacher” to better embody the nature of a cooperative learning experience; and it is this learning experience, one that centers the collaboration, communication, and understanding between teachers and students, that can open our eyes to a unique digital pedagogy. That pedagogy is one which favors the person and not the technology, humanization instead of digitization. That pedagogy, founded on ideals of equity, agency, and critical consciousness, is a critical digital pedagogy.

The CTT’s response to the immediate needs of the university in simply helping instructors to pivot to remote teaching is nearly ended. We look, therefore, first at the summer, then the fall, as we seek to support the University of Nebraska-Lincolns’s ambitions to be a leader in fulfilling its mission in the current crisis. With these objectives in mind the CTT has created a revised Summer Institute for Online Teaching The SIOT (for short) has two iterations in May and is condensed into two-week sessions, reduced from the normal six weeks. The objective, alongside a review of certain basic approaches and technologies, is to help instructors create a “co-operative learning experience” for their online classes. We have received over 300 registrations for the course, as we look forward to developing more and more resources to support our colleagues and bind us together in collaborating to help our students stay successful.

Site Section