, 20 tweets, 6 min read
Here's how this kind of thing works:
1. Right-wing website doesn't interview anyone about the workshop.
2. Website's followers send threats/promise to show up & disrupt.
3. Workshop privacy settings changed for safety.
4. Website authors/followers outraged about privacy settings.
I have yet to read an article in a conservative publication that explains that (a) faculty voluntarily do professional development to become more effective teachers, (b) it's typical for universities to have teaching centers that help faculty with this development, and. . .
(c) there's an entire body of rigorously peer-reviewed literature, based on sound social science, that guides the development of teaching centers' workshops. Faculty developers and instructional designers don't make this stuff up out of thin air.
Just as mathematics and history are academic fields, so are faculty development and instructional design. There isn't a "liberal conspiracy" to undermine higher education. Faculty developers consult research (or undertake research themselves) to discover how students best learn.
Those methods of learning may be different from the ones you experienced in college. That's because this is a serious field of academic inquiry and we're always discovering new facets of student learning and applying emerging best practices.
Similarly, if you hear terms you don't understand, there's no need to jump to the worst conclusions. Fields of study change, and along with them the language we use. That stuff I learned in HS Biology 25+ years ago? It no longer is accurate. Neither is a lot I learned in History.
If you want your kids to learn exactly what (and how) you learned, you're limiting their ability to succeed in a rapidly changing world—a world filled with people who differ from them. Faculty understand that. That's why we pursue professional development like these workshops—
to learn how to help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to navigate that world—and that includes teaching students how to keep their knowledge current after college. We help students learn to interact with *and learn from* all kinds of people.
Consulting this research and undertaking this professional development makes our teaching *more* rigorous, not less. Inclusivity means listening to actual students' needs and figuring out how best to help them achieve at the highest levels. That's not "dumbing down."
The sample article I retweeted above is a prime example of this misunderstanding. It suggests it's wrong to have a workshop on developing an #accessible #syllabus. I'm familiar with this workshop. Want to know what it's about?
Ensuring blind students and other students w/disabilities can access the content of higher ed courses. Why would anyone oppose these students' inclusion? How is making a document accessible to a screen reader dumbing it down? More at bit.ly/udlsyllabus. #a11y #accessibility
Research shows that students who interact with diverse peers in an inclusive setting:

- develop more positive academic and social self-concepts,
- graduate at higher rates,
- achieve superior leadership skills. . .
- have higher levels of civic involvement, and
- exhibit lower levels of prejudice after graduation.

(e.g., see Bowman 2011; Engberg & Hurtado 2011; Espenshade & Radford 2009; Hurtado & DeAngelo 2012)

These are all key 21st-century skills that will serve them (and us) well.
So when I've read recently that our fabulous new #BoiseState president @MarleneTromp (who is *amazing* w/our #Idaho students!) is ruining #highered in Idaho after 3.5 months on the job, I'm aghast. Faculty developers have been doing this research and application for decades.
Just because you haven't heard about it before now doesn't mean it's new or threatening. It's an established field. That's why, if you write an article about one of these workshops, you should be interviewing the experts who develop them about the sound research underlying them.
And you can claim your calls and emails were not returned, but real journalists don't publish based on speculation. They wait on the interview. Or they try calling another faculty development expert, maybe even at another university. If I'm not returning your calls. . .
it's because either (a) I looked at the kind of stuff you published and found it slapdash and not worth my time or (b) I have more urgent and important deadlines than yours. You need to write quality pieces and be patient if you want to interview faculty & university staff.
In the end, remember that you're not going to change higher ed by publishing uninformed speculation. If you want to influence what we teach/do, you need to engage with our fields seriously, not just attack us from a position of naive anger, misunderstanding, and fear.
#IDleg can threaten to defund our programs; we'll write grants to continue the work. Others threaten us personally, but we build relationships w/campus security & local police. You can claim we're "segregationists," but you're just revealing your own ignorance of actual racism.
We care deeply about our students, and they know that. They trust us more than they trust you, and for good reason. So we'll continue this important, rigorous, well-researched work.

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