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King University News :: King’s Innovation Week Provides Alternative Learning Opportunities for Faculty and Students

On Monday, Feb. 18, King University’s Twenty-first Century Learning Paradigms Task Force hosted a convocation in Maclellan Hall to celebrate King’s first Innovation Week.  Innovative educational ideas expressed during Monday’s Innovation Convocation included use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, storytelling, and real live formative assessments of understanding not only what is being shared with others but also becoming engaged. 

“Innovation week is about developing that relationship with students – not just to stand in front of them and lecture for an hour to an hour and a half,” said Dr. Matt Roberts, dean of academic affairs for King.  “Our charge to the faculty this week is not to be prescriptive to the faculty and say you must do these things, but to provide opportunities that will allow faculty to avoid classroom structures that only favor lecture formats.”

The idea behind Innovation Week came about approximately two years ago when Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis, instructor and coordinator for King University’s Security and Intelligence Studies program, and Dr. Shannon Harris, associate professor of History, made a presentation to King’s faculty about the University of Edinburgh’s week without any lectures.  Fitsanakis and Harris shared that faculty were encouraged to teach using other methodologies rather than the typical lecture format – hands-on engaged learning. 

That was the beginning of what would develop into a task force on 21st century learning paradigms.  During spring 2012, the core curriculum faculty were gathered for a kick-off program introducing the idea of utilizing innovative techniques into their teaching curriculum such as jigsaw, fish bowl, storytelling, and video. 

“The task force challenged the core curriculum faculty to innovate and come up with a project to incorporate into their fall semester class,” said Dr. Katie Vande Brake, dean of the King College of Arts and Sciences at King University.   

“Since that time, in all of the professional development offerings, there has been an intentional inclusion of ways to innovate,” said Roberts.  “We have been careful to say do not conflate innovation merely with technology.  Technology is absolutely an important piece, though Innovation Week is more about different ways to engage students.  I believe we at King do this well, but as we find ourselves in the changing landscape of education, we are looking at what it means to engage students in the 21st century. 

In Aug. 2012, faculty came back to campus approximately two weeks earlier than usual, participating in workshops on a variety of topics including effective class structure and assessments.  These workshops provided additional time for faculty to incorporate innovative teaching techniques into class syllabi prior to the beginning of the fall semester.  The task force also began a blog for faculty entitled “Pilgrims’ Progress:  Paradigms for 21st Century Pedagogies.” 

“This was one of the most successful faculty workshops we have ever had,” said Vande Brake.  “It was run like a conference with concurrent sessions.  [Faculty] had a number of choices of sessions in which they could participate.” 

Innovation Week, where King professors are tasked with teaching in non-traditional formats, is the culmination thus far of the task force’s endeavors.  Future endeavors by the Task Force include plans to continue hosting Innovation Week, as well as plans for a summer teaching institute for King faculty.  The week-long program would include workshops centered on incorporating innovation into the classroom. 

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King University is a Presbyterian, master’s-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors and pre-professional degrees and concentration in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, digital media, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. For more information visit www.king.edu, call 800.362.0014, or email admissions@king.edu.