This week on The Focus is You, we’re getting to know Angela Britcher who works in instructional design, faculty training, and content writing. We’ve catered some of the questions to fit what she does for higher education.
What topic in the faculty world is currently most prominent in your opinion?
Britcher: The most prominent topic in the faculty world is transitioning our mindsets from traditional programs and teaching to the more skills-based training our students are demanding. This opens doors for both students and faculty.
Students are looking for skills they can immediately apply at work and use to get to the next level in their careers without doing a formal degree program. This provides faculty with more opportunities to combine their industry and teaching experience both inside and outside of academic environments.
What is the most bizarre technique/method you’ve seen someone implement into their course design?
B: I had the opportunity to re-work a medical-related course where the instructor used doll house-sized dolls as models for doctors and patients. He did voices for all the characters.
When training faculty, if you could share one piece of information/advice with all faculty, what would it be?
B: I’ve heard so many faculty talk about their fears around connecting with students online and building relationships and rapport. Online students are already very comfortable building online relationships through their use of social media. They are adept at engaging in forums and discussion boards.
I would share with all faculty to trust that their students know how to engage in online conversations. Faculty need to create opportunities for engagement. The faculty I work with who are most successful at this use virtual meeting tools to hold office hours where they can see their students with web and smartphone cameras. They engage with students in discussions and take time to dig in and get to know their students and their needs.
Is there anything you hope to see changed with education in the next five to 10 years?
B: In the next 5-10 years, I hope to see education continue to become more accessible. By this, I mean more programs targeting non-traditional students in non-traditional settings who need skills-training and certificates, not just diplomas and degrees.
What would most be surprised to find out about you?
B: I’m an avid podcast listener. Most people see me as light-hearted and fun and might be surprised at my current listening choices around true crime and art heists!
What’s the key to a good leader, both in the classroom and outside the classroom?
B: The keys to good leadership both inside and outside the classroom are listening for understanding, empathy, and exerting positive influence.