June 28, 2017
Writer: Spencer Williams
Brigham Young University-Idaho has always been a teaching-focused institution that brings about new and innovative ways of incorporating the scholarship of teaching and learning for the students who attend this university. The Office of Academic Administration, teachers, and curriculum developers are working on a creative, collaborative process to help teachers improve their courses. This process is called the Course of the Future.
Academic Vice President Kelly Burgener believes the purpose of Course of the Future has always been part of the mission of Ricks College.
"Our goal for Course of the Future will always be moving ahead of us," Burgener said. "Ricks College is part of the restoration, and it's an ongoing restoration. I just think our ability to teach and the students' ability to learn and participate in the learning and teaching experience is going to continue to evolve and grow."
Associate Academic Vice President Rob Eaton said the Course of the Future process is beginning to take a new direction.
"What we want to do is develop a creative, collaborative process where interested faculty members get some help in rethinking their courses, keeping the best stuff-scaling the best stuff so they use it even more-and sharing it with others," Eaton said.
Faculty members have already taken a few courses through this process in an experimental way to explore how they can give some courses a makeover.
"I think our courses are really good already," Eaton said. "The desire for this process stems from wanting to take good things and make them even better."
Eaton believes that using this process will allow faculty to better tailor their courses to meet their students' needs.
"If someone were to ask me if I could redesign my course to help students learn more and remember it longer, I would say that I think I could," Eaton said. "I think most of us could, but we get busy doing day-to-day tasks."
Eaton said many faculty members he has spoken with are excited to participate in this innovative effort, but there are also faculty concerned some classes will turn into highly technological or hybrid courses.
"Part of it will be asking if there are there some cool technological tools out there we can use," Eaton said. "We'll ask that question and we will show some people tools, but that's not going to be the driving or primary focus."
Eaton said the goal is not to make people sacrifice their independence or individual autonomy, but to collaborate with others in a creative environment where teachers may decide to adopt ideas and tools they find to be better than what they had before.
"The goal is to develop a process that has enough definition to be efficient, but has enough freedom for them to be creative and innovative," Eaton said.