Kevin Forgard: Instructional Designer

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The POD Conference Experience

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Attendees playing human bingo

A shot from the Newcomers session. Photo by Jake Jacobson http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacobsonjake51/

This past week I had the pleasure of being able to attend the 38th annual POD conference (http://podnetwork.org/event/pod-2013/). For those who are not familiar with POD, it is a professional organization for people who work doing higher education faculty professional development. Most of the attendees are from various centers for teaching and learning, which has got to be one of the most diverse groups to work with. What I really love about this conference is that I don’t have to explain what I do as an instructional designer. Most of the folks at POD are either instructional designers or involved in overseeing the instructional design process. Many attendees have been doing this work for many years and are more than willing to share their wisdom and insight with each other. It is a very welcoming group of people.

What makes this conference unique is that most every session is interactive. There is no passive listening, which makes sense because people who do this work spend so much time encouraging faculty to create active learning environments. The majority of the sessions are “roundtables”, so its more about having a discussion with peers than listening. Some sessions present research in the field, but these sessions typically involved some interactivity centered on the topic discussed. A POD attendee should expect to talk about their work as well as actively listen to others.

POD also has a strong graduate student base, with many sessions focused on Teaching Assistant (TA) training as well as plenty of veterans who are more than happy to share their wisdom with newcomers to the field.

I was fortunate enough to be able to host a roundtable discussion with my colleague from Bristol Community College, Karl Schnapp. Our session, titled “Reflective Practice on Reflective Practice” presented a series of questions on how to engage faculty in informal focused conversations based on Schon’s model of the reflective practitioner. It was a very engaging conversation with other center directors and even a couple of graduate students.

The other session I participated in was the poster sessions. I presented on my faculty professional development course, Survey of Education Technology (SET). I was one of about 30 poster presenters, so I thought that perhaps I would be standing around for 2 hours. WAS I WRONG! I have some of the most engaging and inspiring conversations with folks to both validate and challenge some of my assumptions of the course. One person even offered me a job! Below are the slides I used to created the poster.

For those who are interested in faculty professional development, POD is THE conference to attend.

Very inspiring!

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