All posts by MB

Senate calls for a detailed action plan

TFFE final report
The TFFE report recommends the appointment of “a senior administrator to guide and facilitate a strategic approach to learning and teaching across all learning units at SFU.”

On December 9, 2015, Senate reviewed the final report of the Task Force on Flexible Education (TFFE) and approved a motion instructing the Vice-President, Academic, to return with a detailed action plan.

The report contains seven recommendations intended to foster flexibility in teaching and learning at SFU, along with “potential action pathways” for each recommendation.

The recommendations in their final form (taken from Section IV, Proposed Actions and Timelines, and grouped according to five “themes”) are given below. The full report is available here.

Theme: Designing engaging and responsive academic programs

Recommendation 1: Provide opportunities for community engagement or practical experiences within all SFU programs.

Theme: Fostering student agency

Recommendation 2: Create a foundational experience in learning for life for all SFU students.

Theme: Reinforcing connections between research, teaching and practice

Recommendation 3: Use research on teaching and learning to guide, develop and expand innovative teaching and learning practices across SFU.
Recommendation 4: Provide better professional development opportunities for all instructors.

Theme: Enhancing learning environments—both digital and physical

Recommendation 5: Proactively research and explore digital learning and teaching systems, and develop and implement a digital infrastructure for the creation and distribution of instructional resources across SFU campuses.
Recommendation 6: Create renewed spaces for student life and learning across SFU campuses.

Theme: Aligning educational research and service for the future

Recommendation 7: Appoint a senior administrator to guide and facilitate a strategic approach to learning and teaching across all learning units at SFU.

See the full report.

The TFFE submits its final report to the VPA

TFFE final report submitted
The final report of the Task Force on Flexible Education concludes more than a year of consultation and deliberation.

The final report of the Task Force on Flexible Education (TFFE) was submitted to the Vice-President, Academic, at the end of June.

The document outlines the role and activities of the task force, presents the findings of a community consultation and environmental scan, and showcases exemplars of flexibility at SFU. Most importantly, it contains recommendations intended to foster flexibility in teaching and learning at SFU.

The seven recommendations in the final report are slightly modified versions of those contained in the April 9 draft report and, as before, they are grouped into five themes as follows:

Designing engaging and responsive academic programs

Recommendation 1: Provide opportunities for community engagement or practical experiences within all SFU programs.

Fostering student agency

Recommendation 2: Create a foundational experience in learning for life for all SFU students.

Reinforcing connections between research, teaching and practice

Recommendation 3: Use research on teaching and learning to guide, develop and expand innovative teaching and learning practices across SFU.
Recommendation 4: Provide better advancement opportunities for teaching-oriented instructors.

Enhancing learning environments—both digital and physical

Recommendation 5: Proactively research and explore digital learning and teaching systems, and develop and implement a digital infrastructure for the creation and distribution of instructional resources across SFU campuses.
Recommendation 6: Create renewed spaces for student life and learning across SFU campuses.

Aligning educational research and service for the future

Recommendation 7: Appoint a senior administrator to guide and facilitate a strategic approach to learning and teaching across all learning units at SFU.

The full report will be reviewed by the Vice-President, Academic, before it is submitted to Senate or released more widely. However, a Summary of General Benefits of a Flexible Education Strategy for SFU from the report is available now.

The TFFE releases its draft recommendations

TFFE Status Update
Members of the SFU academic community are invited to comment on the draft recommendations contained in the April 9 TFFE status update.

On April 9, the Task Force on Flexible Education (TFFE) released a status update report for discussion by TFFE members. The report contained seven draft recommendations designed to guide SFU’s response to “the growing diversity of its students and the resulting call for programs [and services] that accommodate their varied needs.” The recommendations were developed after a university-wide consultation process involving faculty members, students, administrators and staff. They build on SFU’s tradition of innovation and reflect the TFFE mantra: “Relevance is the goal, flexibility is the enabling strategy, and responsiveness is the practice.”

The recommendations are grouped into five themes that were identified by the task force:

Designing engaging and responsive programs
Recommendation 1
: Provide opportunities for community engagement or practical experiences within all SFU programs.

Fostering student agency
Recommendation 2
: Create a foundational program on lifelong learning for SFU students.

Connecting teaching with research and practice
Recommendation 3
: Use research on teaching and learning to guide effective teaching practices.
Recommendation 4: Provide better advancement opportunities for teaching-oriented instructors.

Building infrastructure and support systems for engaged teaching and learning
Recommendation 5
: Create a digital infrastructure for instructional resource development and distribution.
Recommendation 6: Create renewed spaces for student life and learning across SFU campuses.

Aligning educational services for the future
Recommendation 7
: Realign the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD), and Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) under a single operating structure.

Particular initiatives to support each recommendation are proposed in the full text of the draft report. The TFFE invites all members of the academic community to view the status update and respond to the proposed recommendations before May 15. Contact information for the task force is available from the TFFE website.

A TFFE discussion paper considers the benefits of an infrastructure for digital educational resources

E-reader
Digital resources can have advantages over printed textbooks in areas such as cost, accessibility and flexibility. A new TFFE discussion paper proposes an integrated infrastructure for the delivery of digital course content.

By David Porter

Throughout the community engagement process for the Task Force on Flexible Education (TFFE), we’ve encountered many exciting initiatives across the SFU campuses. Some of them deal with the future of teaching resources, textbooks, digital instructional resources and e-books.

We’ve noted student interest in open textbooks and a desire to lower textbook and instructional resource costs associated with taking courses. We’ve noted the Bookstore’s interest in changing its delivery model for instructional resources, too. And, we’ve had discussions with the Library about its interest in supporting open access and open educational resources at SFU.

In an effort to consider these interests collectively, the TFFE team has written a short discussion paper that explores whether a new digital infrastructure for teaching and learning resources would be of benefit at SFU, and we’re inviting input on the draft discussion paper.

Read the discussion paper >>

Student focus groups: If I ran SFU …

Student focus groups

What’s missing from your SFU educational experience? What would make it better?

Greater flexibility in putting together your program? More spaces for group work on campus? Weekend classes?

We want to know.

The Task Force on Flexible Education is looking at ways to respond to the changing educational needs of SFU students. We would like to hear what works for you and what doesn’t, as well as your ideas for making things better.

Whether you are an international student, a mid-career professional, a “traditional” student straight out of high school, or someone completely different, your experience will help us shape the way the university offers courses and programs and how it supports  learning.

Come to a student focus group in March to define a vision and identify concrete actions. You’ll get the chance to make a difference, and we’ll show our appreciation to you with a FREE meal and a $10 dining gift card.

Sign up for one of these dates:

Wed, March 4 | 5:30–6:20 p.m. | West Mall Complex 2501 |
Wed, March 11 | 12:30–1:20 p.m. | West Mall Complex 2220 |
Tue, March 17 | 1:30–2:20 p.m. | West Mall Complex 3513 |

To register: Click here
Questions? Contact tffe@sfu.ca

Change Lab: Becoming comfortable with discomfort

SFU Change Lab
In Change Lab, students confront “real-world” challenges and develop solutions that have an immediate impact on people in the community.

By Candy Ho

Creating student discomfort in the classroom may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a positive teaching experience. However, this is exactly what instructors in SFU’s Change Lab aim to achieve.

The objective of this seven-credit experiential course, co-offered by the Faculty of Environment and the Beedie School of Business, is to challenge and empower students while equipping them with the skills required to create positive social change in a rapidly changing world with complex social and economic environments. From the beginning, students and instructors co-create shared values and rules of engagement to set the tone for the class. Depending on students’ interest areas and level of understanding in creating change, instructors engage various speakers to share their expertise on relevant topics such as social change, design thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Students are mandated to be self-directed. They develop an idea for a socially relevant project and execute that plan. The plan must be meaningful and must address a social problem that exists for real people in a real community. That’s the whole experiential aspect.

“Try and learn, and try again, and fail, and learn, and try again.” This is the so-called “secret sauce” for doing change work according to Jenn McRae, Change Lab co-instructor. “It’s very iterative. Through this process students cultivate attributes such as agency, empowerment, and feeling a sense of efficacy in launching their own creation.”

McRae cites the example of one student group that completed a zero waste project, developing an online platform that matched food-based charities with distributors who had food that was edible but not sellable.

The lack of structured lectures, assignments and typical course expectations can be a jarring experience for students, says McRae. To ensure that projects align with the course learning outcomes, students are required to present regularly on their progress, with immediate feedback and ongoing mentorship provided by both instructors and peers.

Immersing students in an environment that emulates reality and real problems gives learners the confidence that they can develop the skills needed to tackle some of our more pressing issues. Change Lab provides students with awareness and the ability to make a positive impact in real-world settings.

For more information:

http://www.sfu.ca/content/sfu/fenv/partnerships/changelab.html