Greetings from the New CTLT Director

by Patrick O'Sullivan on October 17, 2012

ItPatrick O'Sullivan is my delight to contribute my first-ever posting to the CTLT blog. As the new director of CTLT it seems appropriate to use this to introduce myself to our loyal blog readers and share some details about the recent changes.

I came to Cal Poly six months ago as the new (and first for this campus) Director of Academic Technology, which encompasses three units:

  • Classroom Technologies, formerly Media Distribution Services (“MDS”)
  • Personal Technologies, formerly known as Personal Computing and which now includes the Service Desk
  • Instructional and Web Support, a new group that includes the PolyLearn support team and staff who support those who manage websites across campus.

The provost’s decision to move the CTL under my area of responsibility, announced weeks ago as part of a larger set of organizational changes in Academic Affairs, added a new dimension to campus resources for faculty’s teaching. The Instructional and Web Support staff are now part of the teaching center, adding a broader range of support to the former CTL’s ongoing faculty associates and staff. We also gave the center a new name that shows continuity by retaining the “Teaching and Learning” part and then adds the “T” for technology: the Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (“CTLT”). (Yes, we will change the blog header to reflect this change …).

As it happens, before coming to Cal Poly I was a part of a similar reorganization at Illinois State University, where I was the founding director of that university’s teaching center.  In a situation at ISU remarkably similar to what has recently occurred here, I took on the appointment in 2005 after ISU’s provost’s office decided to combine an existing teaching center and a faculty technology support unit to create a new integrated “teaching support AND technology support” center. When I made the move from my faculty position, I missed my work as a professor but my decades on the front lines of university-level teaching as well as my scholarly work on communication technologies were essential to shaping my approach. Over the seven years I was there, we revamped our services and expanded our programming so that it was closely attuned to the daily challenges and career priorities that affect faculty decisions about investing in professional development. I was gratified to see a strong faculty response and then lots of success as many renewed their teaching approaches, strengthened their instructional and technology skills, and rediscovered new enthusiasm for teaching success.

That experience will inform my work at CTLT. The new name and added resources reflect the integrated approach that we will pursue, which worked so well at ISU and other universities. Our support for faculty seeking help using the various instructional technologies will be focused on how the technology can enhance student learning. Conversely, our support for faculty seeking ideas for enhanced student learning will include support for technologies that increase their effectiveness. And we at CTLT will be working to provide services and programming that addresses your needs and priorities in support of campus initiatives and priorities.

My first several months were occupied with getting oriented with Cal Poly and ITS but I finally had the pleasure of meeting some faculty once the quarter began. I hope to meet many, many more of you over time. And I’ll continue to share developments and updates on this blog and other outlets about what is happening at the CTLT and in the Academic Technology units.

Finally, I wish to thank everyone at Cal Poly for such a warm welcome. I’m very glad to be a part of this terrific university and I look forward to working closely with you over time.

Patrick

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