Logo: Catalyst with a torch for the Y.

What is Catalyst?

Catalyst is a collaborative faculty development program that explores pedagogy and provides design support to jumpstart new course design and instructional projects.

Catalyst is usually offered during Summer, but can be offered at other times of the year when there is sufficient demand or interest. Each iteration of the program is a session that lasts approximately 3-4 weeks.

Each time Catalyst is offered, the session will have a specific pedagogical focus that informs the content, activities, and design project for that session. The focus for each Catalyst session will be indicated in its title and explained in its description. Regardless of the focus, the primary goals of Catalyst are to brings faculty members together to:

  1. explore the intersection of technology and pedagogy together through content-driven modules and online interaction
  2. make progress on individual design projects with support from Academic Innovation and the Catalyst community
  3. build a community around WOU’s passion for teaching and learning

If you have any questions about an upcoming Catalyst session, feel free to reach out to askAI@wou.edu to learn more!

General Information

Upcoming Catalyst Sessions



Catalyst Program Structure

The Catalyst program is divided into two parts: (1) Learn & Engage and (2) Design & Build. Each part has its own focus and requirements.

Learn & Engage focuses on working through module-based content and interacting with other participants. Design & Build focuses on each participant’s individual design project.

To advance to the second part (Design & Build), participants need to successfully complete modules and activities required in the first part (Learn & Engage). Details on each program stage are below.

Part 1: Learn & Engage


Part 1: Learn & Design is built around modules that cover pedagogical topics or instructional strategies. Each module has associated activities to spark discussion between participants, provide an opportunity to apply different concepts, and explore new technology and tools. The primary purpose of this part of Catalyst is to explore new ideas and engage with other participants in the course.

Modules are asynchronous but do need to be completed by specific deadlines. This is to ensure that participants are active at the same time so that we can engage one another and share ideas. So while there are no specific, scheduled meetings during Catalyst, it’s important to make time to work through the modules and activities in Part 1 during the first 7-10 days of the course so that we can build a community and engage.


  • Explore key, foundational concepts that support the pedagogical focus of the Catalyst session
  • Build community by engaging with one another on different activities, discussions, and feedback opportunities
  • Experiment with new tools and technology by completing different module activities
  • Provide opportunities for participants to brainstorm ideas for their design project, with feedback from facilitators and other participants 

Time Commitment

We estimate Part 1 to take most participants 10-15 hours to complete, spread over 7-10 days. Specific details and deadlines will be posted within the course site.

Part 2: Design & Build


Part 2: Design & Build is a chance to take concepts, ideas, and feedback from the Learn & Engage phase and build something meaningful to your future teaching goals. Whatever the project, Academic Innovation and other Catalyst participants will be there to help you reach your goal and finesse your ideas.

In the Design & Build phase, you will focus on an individual design project. Each participant creates their own project based on what fits best for their teaching context. Often the project relates to an upcoming course. Throughout the first half of Catalyst, you will have opportunities to brainstorm your project and talk through ideas with facilitators and other participants. Even once you’ve started working on your project, Catalyst facilitators are available to help you clarify your goals and identify potential strategies and tools that support your design project.

To support your project, Academic Innovation also provides instructional design consultations, technology assistance, and other resources.

Design Project

Each design project is unique to the participant’s goals and teaching context. The only requirements for the project are:

  1. Support a future teaching project, like an upcoming course
  2. Relate to the focus of the Catalyst session 

Because the projects are individual, the scope of each project will vary based on what is most helpful to the participant. To help illustrate potential ideas, here are projects previous Catalyst participants have pursued:

  • Enhancing video content by adding in interactive elements or restructuring longer videos lectures into shorter, more focused videos
  • Converting a course from Moodle to Canvas and using the opportunity to refresh/optimize content and design
  • Developing a standard module format that improves student experiences by providing consistent and clear organization of content, activities, instructions, and deadlines
  • Creating online activities that foster social engagement, augmenting standard discussions with activities like simulations/roleplays, group annotation, peer feedback/review, and collaborative projects

You are not required to complete your project during Catalyst as we don’t want the scope and quality of the project to be limited by an arbitrary time constraint. However, you are required to actively work on your project during Catalyst and complete 3 check-ins during the program so that facilitators can provide feedback and suggestions.

Time Commitment

You should expect to spend 10-15 hours on your design project, spread out over 2-3 weeks. AI staff will be available to provide support, such as instructional design consultations, technical assistance, tool suggestions, and other resources. You will also be able to share ideas with other participants and share project ideas. Many Catalyst sessions also include a peer faculty mentor who can be a great sounding board for your ideas. 




Catalyst Incentives

Incentives are available to Catalyst participants who complete all the requirements for the Catalyst session in which they are enrolled. This includes all modules, associated activities, and design project check-ins. Information on these requirements will be shared at the start of each session and each Catalyst Canvas site uses badges to help you easily track your progress.

Academic Innovation believes incentives play an important part in recognizing the additional investment faculty members make in their course when they participate in additional faculty development and course design programming that require the time commitment Catalyst does.

Catalyst participants have some flexibility in how they receive their incentive, with options to receive a higher dollar amount when the incentive is applied to a professionally relevant purchase, such as technology or additional faculty development activities, instead of receiving a stipend as salary. This is because paying the incentive as salary incurs additional fringe costs (OPE). When the funds are applied to a purchase, Academic Innovation does not pay these costs and we are delighted to be able to pass these savings directly to the Catalyst participant.

Option 1: Stipend (paid as salary)

Participants may elect to receive their incentive as a $200 stipend. This stipend is paid as salary and subject to income tax.

Option 2: Technology Purchase

Participants can receive up to $300 towards a technology purchase that will improve their teaching experience, such as a premium subscription to a learning technology, improved audio-visual equipment, or any other hardware or software purchase that would improve their workflow, enhance teaching, or support scholarly activities. All technology purchases must follow WOU’s purchasing guidelines.

Option 3: Faculty Development Funding

Participants can receive up to $300 in funding for faculty development activities. Examples could include activities like membership and participation in professional organizations, participating in faculty development programs offered through external organizations, or securing services that support research, like interview transcription.




Application Information

Priority Selection

When interest exceeds capacity, priority will be given to applicants who are not participating in another Catalyst session this summer. If you are registered for more than one Catalyst, Academic Innovation will contact you to confirm your top choice and move you to a wait-list for your second choice.

Otherwise, applications will be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. Remaining seats will be filled on a rolling basis until the program start.

Deadline & Rolling Applications

All Catalyst sessions have a priority deadline. For Summer ’22, the priority deadline for all sessions is June 10.

Applicants who apply after the priority deadline will be admitted on a first-come-first-serve basis until all seats are filled.


When a Catalyst session fills, additional applicants may be placed on a wait-list in case a spot becomes available. The wait-list, like admissions, is populated on a first-come-first-serve basis, with priority given to those who have not yet participated in a Catalyst session this summer.

Applications for Upcoming Catalyst Sessions


Participant Eligibility

Catalyst is open to all instructors at Western Oregon University. This includes all faculty members and staff who teach courses, even occasionally.

Catalyst is also open to staff members whose positions involve significant support for teaching and learning or who are involved in developing/facilitating training and professional development opportunities.

Accessibility Statement

Catalyst is open to all members of WOU’s community. Our application form will ask if you need an accommodation to fully participate in the program so that we can work with you and the Office of Disability Services to make arrangements. If you have any questions about what sort of accommodations and supports are available for events and programs at WOU, please contact Disability Services at 503-838-8250 or ods@wou.edu.


Upcoming Catalyst Sessions

Over the past two years, we have developed Catalysts with different focuses. Catalyst is an opportunity to make progress on a design project while also exploring a new pedagogical topic or strategy. It’s a great chance to reflect on your teaching, set goals for an upcoming term, and connect with colleagues about the great work that happens in WOU classrooms.

There will be two Catalyst sessions in Summer ’22. Our July Catalyst will focus on Universal Design for Learning and our August Catalyst will focus on Inclusive Teaching.

Catalyst: Universal Design for Learning


Catalyst: Universal Design for Learning is an opportunity to explore an equity-oriented, research-based framework that seeks to improve educational access and outcomes for all learners! This Catalyst will explore key themes in Universal Design for Learning and strategies for providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression for learners. After exploring this foundational framework, participants will identify a design project related to an upcoming course or teaching goal as an opportunity to explore how Universal Design for Learning can empower learners, enhance accessibility, and create meaningful learning experiences.


Catalyst: Universal Design for Learning runs from July 11 through July 31
Part 1: Learn & Engage takes place during the first 7-10 days of the program. In order to ensure participants have a chance to interact with one another, there are structured deadlines for completing modules and activities during this time. You should plan to spend 10-15 hours in the course site between July 11 and July 18 in order to successfully complete the program’s requirements.

How to Apply

Catalyst: Universal Design for Learning Online Application

Applications for priority consideration are due by June 10.

Catalyst: Inclusive Teaching


Catalyst: Inclusive Teaching is an opportunity to explore strategies that promote inclusive learning environments. Inclusive pedagogy is a student-centered approach that works to build an engaging, welcoming environment for all students. This Catalyst will explore ways to foster connection with students, create equitable and transparent assessment strategies, and incorporate underrepresented and marginalized voices into course curriculum.

Each participant will identify a design project for an upcoming course or teaching project that they will evaluate and revise through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Catalyst: Inclusive Teaching runs from August 8 through August 29.
Part 1: Learn & Engage takes place during the first 7-10 days of the program. In order to ensure participants have a chance to interact with one another, there are structured deadlines for completing modules and activities during this time. You should plan to spend 10-15 hours in the course site between August 8-15 in order to successfully complete the program’s requirements.

How to Apply

Catalyst Inclusive Teaching Online Application

Applications for priority consideration are due by June 10.