Published on January 26, 2021  

As Samford continues to deliver classes in different modalities this spring semester, faculty are developing innovative teaching and community through training from the university's Faculty Success Collaborative (FSC). 

January 11-15, faculty prepared for the spring semester at Renovate 2.0, a training workshop designed to explore new instructional techniques and online course building. Participation in the workshop spanned across all ten academic schools, with approximately 85 faculty attending to learn best practices and receive feedback in real-time with instructional designers, other faculty presenters and small group breakouts. 

P.J. Hughes, director of Faculty Success and Continuing Professional Development and professor of Pharmacy Practice, said the ongoing pandemic has continued to drive what types of training and professional development services the Faculty Success Collaborative creates by focusing on encouraging connection between students and professors, but also between faculty members. 

"We want to keep creating opportunities for faculty to be excited and engaged with our students and each other, and most importantly to remind everyone about the amazing community we have to learn from at Samford," Hughes said.

Attendees of the workshop heard from keynote speaker Linda B. Nilson, the founding director of Clemson University's Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, who spoke on designing a course taught in any mode. Across the week-long programming, Samford professors also spoke on their experiences in the fall semester, including developing creative online assignments, using high impact media and crafting course design to best achieve desired curricular outcomes. While many previous faculty development events were hosted in person, moving the workshop online allowed faculty near and far to attend, a change Hughes said has greatly informed planning of future workshops. 

As one example, Tom Crosby, resident director of Samford's Daniel House in London, England, was able to join for the first time. 

"Renovate offered a unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with Samford's faculty across the pond, "Crosby said. "Crucially, discussion breakout rooms allowed me to apply these practices to my own course and receive feedback from more experienced faculty across a range of schools. The constructive feedback I received from Renovate's facilitators and participants has encouraged me to seek further support from these new connections in the campus community. Although I might be 4,000 miles away at the Daniel House, I certainly feel fortunate to be a part of the Samford community and look forward to the next collaborative event."

The university's Faculty Success Collaborative has played a longstanding role in supporting Samford faculty. The Collaborative identifies and coordinates developmental opportunities related to faculty teaching, service, scholarship, and personal wellbeing. Face-to-face programming, enduring content and other resources are provided to support faculty at all career stages. Across all its offerings, the Collaborative strives to reinforce the three traits of successful courses — consistency, creativity and community. 

"The common denominator of all of this is community," Hughes said. "Focusing on student peer-to-peer interaction and also the sense of community in faculty-to-student interaction shows that we're all lifting together to create a really good experience in the classroom."

The overwhelmingly positive response to Renovate 2.0 is driving faculty interest in a sequel.

“We are already working toward Renovate 3.0,” says Hughes.  “We look forward to applying everything we’ve learned so far, finding new ways to enhance our students’ learning experiences.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.