Reports from the Spring LSC Roundtables: Volume II, August 2016

How do we overcome inertia of faculty, staff, administrators? How do we keep everyone happy? Do we want to? 
—Janet Rankin, MIT

How can we get faculty to actually think about learning spaces and not take them for granted?
—Edward Schwartz, University of Georgia

Should there be required annual training for all faculty?
— Working Team, Georgia Tech LSC Roundtable

What makes people feel safe moving outside their comfort zone?
— Working Team—Georgia Tech LSC Roundtable

It was not surprising that people are usually resistant to change (PCAST) was a major theme at regional roundtables, resulting in an interesting tapestry of questions and comments about the "people of change." Responding to the initial "what keeps me up at night?question, at the Boston University LSC Roundtable, Martha Ondras, Director of Design at the Harvard Business School, reflected:

My thoughts are about champions, recognizing from social innovation theory and models of social innovation that having champions is a requirement. It is part of what we know how change happens, or at least it is one factor in how change happens. It’s a really critical thing, but what we do not do well in higher education is to develop champions. Right?

Champions are usually self-motivating folks, you know, who decide “this is the way things should be done. And I’m going to lead this change" But I think we need a better way of developing champions in the context of thinking about our faculty development (change) models.

Related to the issue of champions, I know they sometimes pay a tremendous cost for pushing, for promoting innovation. Not everyone is in their corner. I think connecting risk and risk management to innovation is a really important issue. If there were a cheap and easy way to prototype new classroom designs…would that make a difference? Our faculty sometimes say “well, can we try this just for a year and see if it works?”

Of course, there are several challenges with that. One is that it might take more than a year to experiment with a new approach. Another is that it does cost to repurpose/refit a classroom. So I think both the social friction of innovating and the practical issues like costs and disruption are issues that need to be discussed. 

How do we deal with that?

One approach, thinking about the yardstick of planning, might be to consider how orchestrated opportunities for faculty to take risks, experiment with new pedagogical approaches, become comfortable in new kinds of spaces fit into long-term institutional strategies for making aspirational change happen.

The July 2016 Roundtable report spotlighted the many questions raised in portfolios and roundtables about student-centered planning: about how students might participate and contribute constructively to the design of spaces in which they will learn; about how students will know how to use new spaces; and about what would happen if we turned all the planning over to students.

Two posters from the Boston University Roundtable challenge us to think about these questions from the perspective of faculty.