Learning Communities

Philosophies, strategies, and technologies involved in teaching & learning can all evolve over time. We love to share well-established findings through workshops, but sometimes a space to discuss and interrogate ideas without the pressure of needing to already have the answers can provide a fresh perspective on the challenges of teaching. Instructor learning communities provide an avenue to explore and discuss these timely topics.

Structure: Learning Communities will meet at least four times a year to discuss books, articles, lectures, or some other artifact surrounding a particular topic of interest.
Dates & Times: Some learning communities will have dates & times scheduled in advance, but if you are interested in participating please register even if these times don't work for your schedule. We may offer alternate schedules to meet demand.
Incentives: The CTT will provide books for those interested in participating in a learning community.
Topics: This year the CTT will facilitate learning communities on the topics below:

Spring 2024 Learning Communities

The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom

Facilitated by Danae Peterson

Are you looking to strengthen or enhance teaching techniques? To foster greater trust in the classroom? The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield provides a practical guide to effective techniques, approaches, and methods for teaching in today’s college classroom that is easily digestible and packed with applicable resources for immediate implementation. In this third edition, six brand new chapters have also been added, including:

  • Teaching critical thinking
  • Using play and creativity in the classroom
  • Teaching in teams
  • Helping students take responsibility for learning
  • Teaching about racism
  • Exercising teacher power responsibly

Join me connecting with colleagues who share your commitment to excellence in education, engaging in meaningful conversations about this book's insights and applications, and exploring proven techniques and strategies for effective teaching while gaining valuable skills and tools to enhance your teaching practice.

This community will meet synchronously via Zoom, for 45 minutes, once per week (for 4 weeks) beginning the week of January 22nd, 2024. Beginning week 5, a hybrid approach will be engaged to provide opportunities for synchronous or asynchronous discussion throughout the remainder of the term to provide greater flexibility for engagement as the semester progresses.

If you have any questions prior to registration, please don’t hesitate to reach out to danae.peterson@unl.edu. As participants are registered, I will be in contact to finalize specific dates and times (one per week, weeks 1-4) with registrants to ensure synchronous scheduling conflicts are minimized and all interested are able to participate. Upon registration, you will also be added to a Microsoft Team where additional resources from the book will be curated for your use as we dive in, as well as a few reading scaffolds and optional discussion questions, should they be found useful. Hope to see you in January!

Register for The Skillful Teacher Learning Community

Gamification in Higher Education

Facilitated by Steven Cain and Amy Ort

Higher education is rapidly evolving, and the incorporation of gamification and play in the college classroom has emerged as an exciting and effective approach to enhance student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes.

This spring, UNL will host its first ever Playposium to explore the power and possibilities of play and playfulness in teaching & learning. This learning community will discuss the topic and consider possibilities for implementation across participant courses. Play is, at its core, fun, and there are so many different ways to incorporate play into your class. Join us to explore "examples from gamified college courses, furnishing strategies and detailed plans for integrating gamification, regardless of the subject area, discipline, or modality."

We'll be meeting six times across the spring semester with dates/times TBD based on the availability of interested parties.

Register for the Gamification in Higher Education Learning Community

Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Heath with Compassionate Challenge

book coverFacilitated by Steven Cain and Amy Ort

Postpandemic, many instructors and educational professionals grapple with a false dichotomy between flexibility and rigor. In this #NCLUDE group we'll be discussing, Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge. It provides an alternative mindset focused on holding students accountable for rising to authentic challenges during their educational process and doing so compassionately with their development in mind.

This learning community is being offered in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). For a description, schedule, and to register, go to #NCLUDE Learning Groups and select Group #1. Register soon! This group's first meeting is February 6th at 1 PM.

Register for Group #1 in the #NCLUDE Learning Groups

Birding While Indian: A Mixed-Blood Memoir

book coverFacilitated by Beverly Russell and Kate McCown

The title of UNL professor Thomas Gannon’s 2023 memoir, Birding While Indian: A Mixed-Blood Memoir, hints at just some of its many layers, topics, and constructive provocations. An “expansive, hilarious, and humane memoir” authored by “an acerbic observer,” the book uses birds and birding to weave together Gannon’s childhood on the Great Plains, Indian boarding school and public schools, higher education, the natural environment, the voices of Native American and Anglo-European literature, and a lifetime of intercultural experiences. It will engage many readers and interests, provoke a variety of discussion topics, and touch and educate all of us. Through it all, we’ll reflect on the complexities and collisions of identity, and how we can be more thoughtful, inclusive individuals, co-workers, and campus community builders.

This learning community is being offered in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). For a description, schedule, and to register, go to #NCLUDE Learning Groups and select Group #8. Register soon! This group's first meeting is February 6th at 1 PM.

Register for Group #8 in the #NCLUDE Learning Groups

Propose a Learning Community

If you’re interested in proposing a topic for a future learning community, contact Steven Cain.