There was an article (subscription required) in the Chronicle today about a Harvard Law professor planning to use SL to host parts of his course -- not a novel idea, but one that shows there are people willing to jump at new opportunities. After reading it, I spent a few minutes bouncing around the professor's blog and found a great pointer to a post showing some of the work in action. It may not be novel, but it sure looks interesting and could lead to some very engaging opportunities. I smell a pilot plan for the Spring.
This leads me to expose a few thoughts we tossed around yesterday as it relates to engaging faculty. Currently we do a thing called the MTO (Multimedia Teaching Object). The idea behind the MTO is that we do a scheduled call for proposals by PSU faculty and then help those that are accepted build a teaching object -- usually a Flash piece or a series of illustrations. There is more to it -- an open sharing license comes to mind -- but for the most part it is a small program that takes some serious resources and staff time. To do something this focused well, you need a host of developers and instructional designers working at break neck pace to produce very small tangible outcomes. It has a tendency to burn people out.
We started talking about how we could take that program and expand and contract it at the same time. So if you jump out a level from a program like that and created a larger umbrella program that you could create many smaller more targeted opportunities (MTO might be one of them) we could become more strategic and agile with our faculty projects -- I started calling it the Engagement Awards. The idea is if we are researching SecondLife, then we could do a targeted Engagement Award Call related specifically to that -- the same could hold true for podcasting, blogging, wikis, and anything else we have running around in our collective heads. That would get us off the Flash treadmill and into a whole host of opportunities to work with faculty. Every project would be connected to a set of outcomes -- a "profile in success" like piece for our webspaces, a white paper, and hopefully an invitation for the faculty members to participate in our annual TLT Symposium. I am not explaining this very well, but the idea is to create targeted opportunities to engage with faculty throughout the year that are more in line with our resources, interests, and capabilities. I could see many of these targeted calls looking at emerging things that I know faculty would be interested in.
Does this make sense and who is doing this in Higher Education that I could benchmark against?