Center for Teaching and Learning

FAQs: CTL’s Learning Communities

History and Goals

The CTL piloted Learning Communities in the fall of 2011. Learning Communities bring together educators from different disciplines to discuss, reflect, and collaborate on a teaching and learning topic of mutual interest.  Together participants pursue shared instructional objectives, model peer learning practices, and promote lifelong learning in an atmosphere of mutual support and discovery.

What topics are covered?

Previous Learning Communities have investigated a variety of pertinent teaching and learning topics including: Teaching Large Classes, “Flipping” the Classroom, Exploring Service Learning, Canvas Course Management, Leading Dynamic Discussions, Social Media for Learning, Supporting English Language Learners in the Classroom, Fostering Future Faculty, and more.

Who participates?

Anyone with a teaching role:  For example: faculty, part-time lecturers, adjunct faculty, graduate students, instructional librarians, and staff educators.

How big are the groups?

Learning Communities are typically made up of 6-12 people.

How often do groups meet?

Learning Communities meet weekly throughout most of an academic quarter. A few continue beyond.

What are the goals of a Learning Community?

  • to support you and your work as teaching scholars and staff educators
  • to share resources and expertise
  • to encourage evidence-based decisions about teaching
  • to sustain and strengthen the UW teaching community.

What are the roles and expectations of participants?

Participants attend the sessions, assist in developing the Learning Communities agendas and group goals, and contribute to session discussions and activities. After the Learning Communities conclude, we encourage each group to submit a brief summary of group goals, discussion topics, outcomes, and next steps to be shared on the CTL website. We also hope that participants will share what you have learned in other venues, so that colleagues can learn from your expertise and experience. Sharing out could mean serving as a facilitator for a future Learning Community, teaching a workshop, contributing a blog entry or teaching strategy to the CTL web site, presenting a poster, publishing in a journal or newsletter, or leading a discussion among colleagues.

What is CTL’s role in a learning community?

We help form the Learning Communities and provide space in which to meet. We recruit facilitators, and provide resources as needed. The facilitator is responsible for organizing and facilitating group activities and conversations. After the conclusion of the Learning Community, the CTL follows up with participants periodically to discover how their new knowledge, as a result of participating in the Learning Community, has impacted or transformed their teaching as well as their students’ learning.