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Faculty Online Learning Communities

The Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop is a great experience for learning about exciting, effective teaching methods. However, one of the things we have learned from faculty who have attended past workshops is that they often go home with great new ideas but need help in implementing them. Faculty members have high expectations about how they can improve their teaching, but need a support network for when they face inevitable setbacks.

To address these issues, we are organizing Faculty Online Learning Communities (FOLCs), virtual communities of faculty who have attended the same New Faculty Workshop. The goal of the FOLCs is to provide participants with a community to support each other throughout the academic year as they engage in innovative teaching. By joining an FOLC, you will have the opportunity to share your concerns, your issues, your questions, and your successes with a group of peers at a similar stage in their careers as you. This is a group who can help you in ways that go beyond what can be accomplished during a single meeting at the New Faculty Workshop and who can provide perspectives on teaching different from those at your home institution.

If you join an FOLC, you will be expected to join in roughly bi-weekly online meetings and to engage in electronic discussions between meetings. During the online meetings, you will discuss timely issues related to your teaching. You will also learn more about the various ideas presented at the New Faculty Workshop from instructors who use these techniques, as well as the people who created them and researchers who study them. To communicate between meetings, you will use an online environment that is like Facebook, but designed specifically for the FOLC and open only to FOLC participants. This environment will allow you to ask and answer questions, solicit and provide feedback, and give and receive cheers, all with the aim of improving your teaching both for your students and for you. Here is a link to a brief YouTube video giving more information about FOLCs: http://youtu.be/Eis568V8dHQ

Those New Faculty Workshop participants who join an FOLC will be designated Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop Teacher/Scholars to indicate their commitment to improving their teaching and their students' learning.  A letter reporting this designation will be sent to the participants' department chairs (and others as desired).  At the end of FOLC's activities (usually after a year), a follow-up letter will be sent to the participants' chairs (and others if desired) reminding them of the participants' Teacher/Scholar designation and (where appropriate) including a sentence or two about what the participants implemented to enhance their teaching.  These letters should be good additions to promotion and tenure files.

If you have been selected to participate in a New Faculty Workshop, you will be sent a link to an application to apply for the FOLC.  The deadline for applying will be about 2-3 weeks before the start of the New Faculty Workshop, and we will let you know if you have been selected to participate in the FOLC before you attend the New Faculty Workshop.