May 25th, 2005 @ 12:32 pm | Author:
School is once again in session this week at Valley City State University (VCSU), but now it is the faculty and staff that are doing the learning.

The VCSU "Summer Institute" is a four-day training and mentoring session funded by a Bush Foundation Grant that allows faculty and staff opportunities to increase their expertise in ways that are not feasible in the standard academic year. This is the sixth year that VCSU has organized a Summer Institute. This year, the event was organized by Dan McRoberts, VCSU Bush Grant Director, and Dr. Terry Corwin, Director of Special Projects.

One topic that the Institute will feature this year is Technology Development. VCSU uses the Blackboard Learning System (web-based course management software) for many of its online and hybrid classes. The Summer Institute will include several sessions on taking advantage of specific Blackboard functions such as discussion groups, grading, and advising. McRoberts said that the work VCSU is doing with Blackboard is an excellent example of ways that VCSU uses technology to enhance the learning environment. "At VCSU, our instructors have found lots of exciting and creative ways to use instructional technology, but it is hard to share this kind of information during the intensity of the school year. In the Summer Institute, we are taking a step back to study these techniques so they can be applied throughout the university."

Another topic the Summer Institute will cover is Academic Assessment. Corwin said, "During the school year, we tend to focus on evaluating the student’s progress in learning. But as important is assessing student learning itself so that we can understand it better and put in place a process for continual improvement. The Summer Institute is a perfect time for us to share best practices in this area to, for example, improve our ability to shape curriculum and define outcome measures."

The Summer Institute is being held Monday through Thursday of this week, and has drawn over 30 registrations from the faculty and staff.