SoTL Advocacy: On the Extraordinary Gift of Networks

By: Nicola Simmons

The SoTL Advocacy group has mapped out some areas for focus – and one of our first was to create ‘speaking points’ and other such materials that would allow us to address peers, administrators, and politicians with a clear central message.

Creating these kinds of resources is a key next step for advocacy work, but one that takes an immense amount of time. While we have some committed volunteers, I admit that I wasn’t quite sure where the time was going to come from to do this work.

This week, however, we received a very significant gift in the form of other people’s work. When ISSoTL asked who might be interested in joining their Advocacy and Outreach Committee, I immediately volunteered. As I told the organizers, I wasn’t sure how much I had in the way of resources to contribute, but in Canada we are grappling with these issues, and I was interested in participating in whatever way I could. Imagine my joy (and relief!) therefore to be sent this link with the committee’s documents: http://www.issotl.com/issotl15/node/114

I hardly knew where to start reading first – this is an exceptionally rich set of resources. The “campus outreach” link (immediately under the descriptive paragraph) was a great place to start – see for example the Carnegie Foundation four-page pamphlet on “Leadership for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” which includes 10 recommendations for leadership of SoTL on campus and some questions for getting started. Another document outlines “What Can SoTL do for You and Your Department or School” and is written for Chairs and Deans and includes some tips on assessing SoTL for promotion and tenure. Read also a short synthesis of “Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in Mathematics” that details key principles for any discipline.

The “media kit” link gives excellent examples, the “resources” link lists some key articles – the kind of thing one could use for a Deans/Chairs retreat or send to senior administrators or politicians for reading. “SoTL blogs” includes the ISSoTL blog, our own SoTL Canada blog, and others; key reading can be found in the “Casebook” examples – great tips for promoting SoTL in your institution and beyond.

The gift of these resources has saved us dozens (or more likely hundreds) of hours of work and gives a wonderful starting point for us to develop additional contributions. It also reminds me that as a gift, it is part of something much larger and worth celebrating: The ongoing gift of our professional networks and collaborations. Colleagues, I am forever grateful.

****SoTL Canada welcomes any comments in response to this post. If you are interested in  being involved with the SoTL Advocacy Group, and/or have some advocacy resources you would like to share, please email Nicola Simmons at nsimmons@brocku.ca.******

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