The Value of Collaborative Project Planning

The Project – May/June PD Blitz

One of the major projects I was a part of last year was our Teaching and Learning Innovation Hub‘s May/June PD blitz. To give you some context, up until a year or so ago we didn’t have a formal teaching and learning centre at our college; we were just a few people in different departments across the college that collaborated together to support faculty. We officially came together as the Hub team in August 2017 and our physical space opened to the faculty around February 2018. A successful May/June PD blitz was vital to demonstrate the importance of a teaching and learning centre on campus, plus to showcase the diverse skill set and expertise we had housed under one roof now that we were in one department as a team! 

Collaborative Dinner Party with the Hub Team

At the table for this project was every member of the Hub team — meet the entire Hub Team here. Each member of the team is an ‘expert’ in his/her area. I use the quotes here loosely because I don’t think any of the team considers themselves experts but I sure consider them experts in their area. Each member of the team has helped guide me in their areas so their experience and skill far outweighs mine in any of those fields — Jeff has helped me with video and audio stuff, Sarah has helped answer my many questions about WordPress and graphics, Jess has helped me identify opportunities to incorporate open resources and assignments in my courses, OJ and Rob have helped me become an amateur all-star in Moodle. 

Modes of Communication

The Hub has weekly team meetings where we discuss new projects and ideas, then we usually schedule some dedicated time to brainstorm one project in a separate meeting. We gathered a list of PD that faculty expressed interest in during one of our Hub Launch activities in late winter and from the Quality Teaching Resource Centre Committee members; we used these suggestions to plan many of our PD sessions and added additional ideas to a list in a Google Doc

From there we created a calendar of events with ‘owners’ who were responsible for either running the session or finding the experts to run the sessions. We used a Google Doc for this, too, since it was a document that would be updated in real time. We used email for short, quick communication. Once the schedule of events was fully planned, we posted the content on the Hub Calendar on our website. When you click on the event, you are taken to a description of the event, including the host and a registration button (if applicable). We had over 400 registrations for our May/June PD Blitz — and I’d call that a super success!

When I look at the people and the process – I wonder if it appears to have been ‘top-down’ because the Hub organized and ran the PD blitz. We had input from faculty across the college but we scheduled the entire event. We want to ensure that PD is driven by the wants and needs of faculty – that their voice is the one being addressed and answered. 

We included experts from outside of our Hub team as content experts. For example, we had a teacher from the Sudbury Catholic District School Board come in and talk about her experience with ‘going gradeless’, which a few teachers have taken on this fall semester! A professor from Laurentian University came in to talk about Safe Spaces. We also had a number of faculty come in and present on the great things they are doing in their classrooms. 

The Hub Team works great together and we pull off some amazing events for our faculty. We communicate well because we use shared docs and meet weekly. There is great value in working together towards a common goal – division of labour, new ideas, support, and enthusiasm to experiment! 

One thing we need to consider during our next brainstorming session for May/June PD is on the missing voices of other stakeholders across the college — students, staff, administration. How do we demonstrate value in hearing from other stakeholders in professional development beside the faculty voice? Do we need to? Some great things to ponder moving forward.

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