There’s a whole new layer of tech support on campus, in case you have not heard of the Faculty Champions. Initially, Center for Academic Excellence implemented the Faculty Champions program to assist faculty with the transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When everything shifted online, Learning Technology Services (LTS) designated 1-2 tech experts for each department to be Faculty Champions, which became a crucial piece of its emergency strategy. The main responsibility of a Faculty Champion is to provide services to faculty in their respective departments on online teaching. If they can’t answer specific questions or if additional help is needed, the Faculty Champion can report the issue to LTS.
Now, Faculty Champions has grown into one of what CAE considers to be its “big wins” of the pandemic. “We couldn’t have made it without them, and now they’re a key part of our ongoing faculty support,” says Rachel Clark, who has taken on CAE leadership for the group of about 35. “It’s been key for us to have these connections, so we hear what faculty need regularly from people embedded within departments - and faculty can request help from a nearby colleague, which they’re sometimes more comfortable with.”
Dr. Katherine Ledford, one of the Faculty Champions for the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, says that the most common issue she helps fellow faculty members with is AsULearn, including how to effectively build and maintain their course site. She gives colleagues tips and tricks on course design and how to engage students in an online course. In addition, Dr. Brent James, the Faculty Champion for the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, says that he helps colleagues with using the different teaching technologies that App State offers.
Dr. Ledford explains that the program gives departments and faculty members someone they know to be a “first-stop place” for help. She believes that this turns into better teaching, and thus a better learning experience for students, because professors can get questions answered and then focus on teaching rather than worrying about technical issues. Additionally, Dr. James says that the Faculty Champions program is beneficial in that it also allows Faculty Champions to gain a better understanding of what the different needs and priorities in their departments are.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the transition to online learning has brought many challenges to both faculty and students. Many thanks to our Faculty Champions like Dr. Ledford and Dr. James, who have made the transition much easier and more efficient.
For more information on your faculty champion, please contact Rachel Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.