Fall Reflections

Hamersly Library parking lot entrance with tree in fall colors

Hamersly Library, October 2019

Today is week six of Fall Quarter 2019 at Western Oregon University, and I have now been here for three full months!

I spent a few minutes walking through the Hamersly Library and found it bustling with students studying, collaborating, and drinking coffee.

It must be mid-term!

My overriding feeling today is gratitude. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to move to this magnificent part of the Willamette Valley and to have been welcomed by such a wonderful group of colleagues. The past few months have been a whirlwind as I’ve learned about WOU and my new role as Dean of Library and Academic Innovation, but I definitely feel like I’m settling in. I am looking forward to many, many years of working here and contributing to WOU’s vision to become Oregon’s campus of choice for students, faculty and staff who seek a student-centered learning community. This vision is certainly one of many things that attracted me to WOU, and I couldn’t be more delighted to be here.

Lake surrounded by trees and reflecting fall colors

Fall Reflections; Willamette Mission State Park, November 2019

For a sampling of things I’ve been working on in the past few months, below you’ll find two reports I submitted to Provost Winningham last Friday. Each of these initiatives could be accompanied by a long list of “thank yous” to people who have contributed to them.

Some stand-outs for the Apple Partnership pilot include Breeann Flesch, Camila Gabaldón, Darryl Thomas, Tandy Tillinghast, Sylvia Valdés-Fernández, Laurie Burton, and all members of the iPad Learning Interest Group.

Special thanks for their work rebuilding Academic Innovation go to Ben Hays, Amy Harwell, Nora Solvedt, Mary Bucy, Sean O’neill, Scott Carter, all members of the Online Professional Learning Community, and the search committee members for the Director of Academic Innovation and Instructional Designer positions.

And, many thanks to Provost Winningham for all of his support and advice on everything I’ve been working on since I arrived!


Fall 2019 Reports for Board of Trustees Meeting

Academic Innovation 

One of the ways WOU has identified to achieve its vision as a campus of choice for students, is by “adapting to the changing world through continuous institutional improvement, evolving pedagogies and expertise, sustained scholarly and creative activities, and delivery of critical and innovative programs.” Central to this vision is a robust Academic Innovation unit that promotes successful teaching and learning experiences, provides professional development and support for faculty, offers one-on-one academic technical support services, provides instructional design support, and serves as a catalyst for growth of a university culture that values and supports excellence in teaching. 

During the 2018-2019 academic year, the Library and Academic Technology Steering Committee was charged to assist with the search for a new Dean of Library and Academic Innovation and make recommendations for the creation of a newly-envisioned Academic Innovation unit. Chelle Batchelor was hired into the Dean position on August 1, 2019 and immediately began to carry out the vision and recommendations of the task force. Following are the actions taken thus far:

  • Director of Academic Innovation position posted; preference given to applications received by Nov. 1, 2019
  • Instructional Designer position posted; preference given to applications received by Nov. 15, 2019
  • LMS Support Specialist (Ben Hays) and two graduate assistants move to Library Digital Media Center (HL 216) on Nov. 8, 2019
  • Digital Production Technician (Sean O’Neill) begins reporting to Dean of Library and Academic Innovation and functionally joins Academic Innovation team on Nov. 8, 2019

Simultaneous with this rebuilding of the Academic Innovation unit, a subcommittee of the University Technology Advisory Committee (UTAC) is undergoing a systematic review of our current Learning Management System (LMS) and four possible alternatives for providing the best learning environment for our students. Their initial recommendation is expected to be presented to UTAC in December 2019. If their recommendation is to adopt a hosted LMS solution, the Academic Innovation unit will coordinate LMS pilot testing in Winter 2020 with possible implementation of a new system occurring over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year. Also, with the rapid growth of our Salem campus on the horizon, the Dean of Library and Academic Innovation plans to submit a UBAC proposal in January 2020 to fund an additional instructional designer position with an emphasis on hybrid course design support. 


Apple Pilot

WOU has been in conversations with Apple and their Higher Education Division since April 2019. Many faculty and staff have been involved with these discussions and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, University Technology Advisory Committee and University Council have been briefed during meetings occuring in July – October 2019. Conversations with Apple and colleagues at higher education institutions that have implemented iPad programs for their students have revealed many possible benefits. 

As an access institution we are ever mindful of barriers to student success, and providing iPads to all students would reduce the divide between students who have access to needed technology and those who do not. A 1×1 mobile program also has the potential to reduce the overall cost of education. For example, iPad apps can be used to replace expensive graphing calculators, and the Library will be launching a program in Winter 2019 to encourage and incentivize the adoption of Open Textbooks that are readily and freely available to students using mobile devices. Apple also provides free tools and educational materials that can be leveraged to teach students coding and app development skills, preparing them to enter a skyrocketing job market. A program that enables all of our students to “go mobile” could also benefit WOU student athletes’ academic performance, especially given that our  athletic tour buses are already enabled with wifi. 

This is a mere sampling of potential benefits to providing our students with mobile technology, and WOU is favoring adoption of iPads because of Apple’s commitment to accessibility, significant educational discounts, free and low-cost professional development offerings, and robust AppleCare protection plan. The WOU President’s Cabinet has approved and funded the following activities and pilot projects in 2019-2020 to further explore these benefits and opportunities:

  1. August 28 & 29, 2019: twenty faculty and staff took part in an Apple Professional Learning training designed to show how we could increase student success and academic achievement using new technologies (e.g., note taking apps, real time in class surveys, screen capture for creating online lectures and more)  
  2. Fall 2019: twenty students in the Strong Start program were given an iPad (with Apple Pencil) for the duration of their time at WOU 
  3. Fall 2019: Student Enrichment Program – twenty-five iPads on a “mobile technology lab” cart are being used by three SEP First Year Seminar courses. Students use the iPads while in class and return them to the cart before they leave
  4. Fall 2019: Writing 121 – students in two Writing 121 courses are able to check out iPads (with Apple Pencils) from the Library for the entire quarter
  5. Winter 2020: another cohort of 20 faculty and staff will attend an Apple Professional Learning training
  6. Winter 2020 and Spring 2020: additional courses will experiment with using iPads in the classroom. Students in those courses will be able to check out an iPad from the library for the entire quarter