A panel discussion at CITL's 2019 symposium.

"Google Apps and CourseKit" was one of the panel presentations at the symposium, which consisted of, from left, Mary Newbegin, language specialist; Kayla Landers, language specialist; Bruce Whitehouse, associate professor of anthropology; and Matt Veto, professor of practice in journalism and communication and faculty adviser to The Brown and White.

Celebrating Innovation at Lehigh’s Teaching and Learning Symposium

The 2019 Symposium on Teaching and Learning at Lehigh featured nearly 50 presentations and four panel discussions.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Kathleen Frederick

The magnolia trees weren’t the only things blossoming across campus in early April. Innovation and collaboration were too, as new and effective classroom approaches were shared and discussed April 10-11 at Lehigh’s 12th annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Hosted by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) in partnership with the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the two-day symposium on the fifth floor of the Fairchild-Martindale Library featured nearly 50 presentations and four panel discussions covering a wide variety of disciplines and ranging from active learning, to collective learning, to virtual reality applications and innovative uses of classroom spaces. A total of 157 faculty, students and staff attended at least one session.

Presentations were split into two different formats: five-minute Lightning Round talks and 10-minute sessions.

Presentations on day one included classroom-related topics such as student engagement (Zach Zacharia, associate professor of supply chain management and director of the Center for Supply Chain Research) and interdisciplinary course development with CITL (Haiyan Jia, assistant professor of data journalism), as well as topics beyond the classroom, such as global projects that have social impact (Khanjan Mehta, vice provost of creative inquiry and director of the Mountaintop Initiative).

Khanjan Mehta presents at the 2019 CITL symposium.

Khanjan Mehta, vice provost of creative inquiry and director of the Mountaintop Initiative, presented about global projects that have social impact on the first day of the CITL symposium.

English department graduate students and teaching fellows Trisha Nardone and Claire Silva presented “Memoir is a Bridge: Writing Across Difference in the Community” in one of the morning sessions. The two discussed the art of storytelling as a way to better connect Lehigh and its surrounding community. They’ve also partnered with the Bethlehem Area Public Library to form a writing group aiding their efforts.

The second day of presentations featured the use of technology inside the classroom: bringing the Arctic and Antarctic into the classroom through virtual reality (Joan Ramage, associate professor Earth and environmental sciences and director of South Mountain College); a how-to on PowerPoint presentations (Gene Perla, adjunct professor in music); and leveraging online collaboration tools in labs (Ziad Munson, associate professor of sociology).

The morning panel also focused on technology, with Matt Veto, professor of practice in journalism and communication and faculty adviser to The Brown and White, giving a tutorial on Google Apps before discussion was opened up to the rest of the panel. Panelists, who also discussed CourseKit, included Kayla Landers, language specialist; Mary Newbegin, language specialist; Bruce Whitehouse, associate professor of anthropology; and Holly Zakos, senior instructional technologist.

In a presentation prior to the panel discussion, Veto revealed how he’s working with students to engage the community they cover as student journalists by seeking questions instead of just asking them. He asks his editing students, “How do we better connect with our audience?” and then has them brainstorm. Veto said faculty could tailor their exercise to their needs.

Veto references Hearken, a company focused on “public-powered journalism,” which flipped the top-down method of newsrooms deciding what was important for their readers. Veto challenged his students to look for “real community members” and instead of giving an elevator pitch, where students obtain information, he asked them to give an elevator offer where they say, “I literally want to sit with you and listen to you and hear what you want and actively listen.”

Greg Reihman, associate vice provost for teaching and learning and director of CITL, speaking at the symposium.

Greg Reihman, associate vice provost for teaching and learning and director of CITL, welcomed attendees each day at the symposium.

Greg Reihman, associate vice provost for teaching and learning and director of CITL, welcomed attendees and presenters both days. He noted that teaching can be a private experience, despite a classroom filled with students and their teacher. Both designing a course and course reflection are very private activities, he said, but the symposium can make the entire experience more public.

“The core goal is just to really help make some of that creative energy, some of that thought, planning, some of the reflection, successes, failures, frustrations, just making that more public so other people can learn from it,” Reihman said.

Reihman said the symposium also celebrates innovation and allows ideas to spread from year to year among faculty.

Presentations were not limited to topics CITL was already partnering on with faculty members. The symposium also highlighted faculty who received support or worked in collaboration with other offices, the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and the Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative.

In compiling a schedule of presenters, CITL surveys faculty: What did you set out to do and why? What worked and what didn’t? What advice do you have for people going forward?

Students using virtual reality.

Using virtual reality in classrooms was a recurring topic throughout the symposium.

“There's not one way of teaching or one technology that's going to be for everybody in all cases,” said Reihman. “So we try to foster the spirit of experimentation... We want to hear what's working and what's not and pass it on.”

Also participating in the symposium were Jill Blondin, interim executive of the Global Education Office at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kendall Moore, award-winning documentary filmmaker and professor of journalism and film media at the University of Rhode Island.

An open house, reception and faculty workshops followed at the Zoellner Arts Center.

The workshops featured faculty using art to teach, said William Crow, the new director of the Lehigh University Art Galleries and professor of practice in the Department of Art, Architecture, and Design. Reihman and Crow met last fall after Crow arrived at Lehigh and conversations began on the use of the galleries as a teaching space and bringing art collections into classrooms.

Different uses of virtual reality were on display. A preview of the upcoming exhibitions and language development using art were among the nine faculty workshops in the galleries.

For more information on the symposium and to view the recordings of the 2019 presentations, click here.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Kathleen Frederick