Peer-to-Peer Learning Communities

Regardless of what happens in the fall, our students will benefit if we are better prepared to teach them in an online environment. If we are able to resume face-to-face courses, we know that sudden shifts in conditions may require additional pivots to remote teaching. And if we are not able to resume face-to-face courses, our students will be counting on us to ensure our online courses deliver the significant learning experiences they have come to expect from Wake Forest faculty.

Given these demands, the CAT, Office of Online Education, members of ZSR Library’s Digital Initiatives team, and the Academic Technologies unit in IS are prepared to support 1,000+ Wake Forest instructors as they prepare for a potential semester online. Beginning June 3rd, we will launch a comprehensive set of support options that include online modules, reading groups, and synchronous workshops. The program that will anchor our support efforts, however, is our plan to work with 65 faculty members to develop and facilitate 65 disciplinary-based, peer-to-peer learning communities for instructors in their departments.

As is hopefully clear from the graphic to the left, this approach is faculty-centered, allowing our teachers to support one another as they prepare solutions for the fall. It honors the amazingly creative work so many of our instructors have been doing already, allows for disciplinary-specific guidance, and–most importantly for the CAT–creates opportunities for departments to have meaningful conversations about teaching that will reach far beyond a single semester.

More details about this program can be found in the FAQ below.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is participation in this program required?

    The CAT never requires participation in any of our programs. However, all deans on the Reynolda campus expect that most of their faculty will want to participate. Each dean has shared details about their expectations, as well as standards for waving those expectations, here.

  • Will faculty be compensated for their time?

    Yes. Both the peer facilitators and the participants will be compensated for their time. Peer facilitators will be will receive a $6,500 stipend and all participants will receive a $1,500 stipend.

  • Who can participate?

    Any Wake Forest instructor scheduled to teach a course in the fall of 2020 is eligible to participate in the peer-to-peer learning communities. This includes tenure-stream faculty, teaching professionals, visiting professors, postdoctoral fellows, part-time instructors, and staff who teach courses. Those not teaching in the fall are eligible to opt into the program via our cohort request form.

  • What will be expected of participants?

    These learning communities are designed to support participants as they embark on the significant task of redesigning each of their fall courses. As a result, we are mindful of limiting additional work so far as possible. To the extent that there are any additional expectations beyond the work of designing the courses themselves, they will be structured to make that process more productive and efficient. Our goal is simple: to create opportunities for you to learn and design alongside your peers so that you are not laboring alone on an island.

    To ensure equity, we ask that faculty who are receiving the stipend spend at least 40 hours working on their courses with their peers. Within that broad framework, however, peer facilitators are free to structure those hours to meet the needs of their cohort. We recommend a 2-week window with at least 5 hours of “live” synchronous work, but many have opted for alternative schedules.

  • When will the peer-to-peer learning communities begin?

    Peer facilitators have scheduled their learning communities to meet the needs of their cohorts, which means they will be run on a staggered schedule throughout the summer. The first set will launch on Monday, July 13th and the last will launch on Monday, August 10th. You can find the dates for each cohort, as well as a form to request a new cohort, here.

     

  • How were cohorts formed?

    The literature on faculty learning communities suggests that 8-15 participants is an ideal number. As a result, we worked together with our facilitators to create cohorts of 8-15 clustered within and around departments. Some large departments have multiple cohorts, some small departments have been combined with adjacent disciplines, and we have 8 interdisciplinary cohorts. Participants are free to request a new cohort using our cohort request form.

  • What is expected of peer facilitators?

    Peer facilitators are expected to devote around 120 hours (the equivalent of teaching a single course, or 20% of a semester’s load) to this position. This includes at least 60 hours of direct support for faculty in their cohort, as well as 60 hours preparing for that work in a peer facilitator learning community.

  • When did the peer facilitator learning communities take place?

    We ran the formal aspects of the learning communities from Monday, June 15th through Friday, July 10th. Following the schedule below, peer facilitators spent two intensive weeks with one another followed by two weeks of independent preparation.

    • June 15-19: 5 hours of synchronous sessions; 15 hours of reading/activities
    • June 22-26: 5 hours of synchronous sessions; 15 hours of reading/activities
    • June 29-July 3: 10 hours of mostly independent work with peer and facilitator feedback
    • July 6-10: 10 hours of mostly independent work with peer and facilitator feedback
  • How were peer facilitators be selected?

    The CAT worked together with deans and department chairs to identify facilitators for each cohort. Some cohorts are led by two co-facilitators who are splitting the work, as well as the stipend.