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Kevin Hager in YVC's Teaching and Learning Center

Teaching and Learning Center opens to support faculty development

This fall, Yakima Valley College faculty are getting a new resource to support continuous improvement in instruction with the opening of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) on the Yakima Campus. The center, located in Deccio Higher Education Center, was created to support onboarding of new faculty, provide training for instructional tools and equipment and help instructors improve their courses. The space also provides faculty with a space to network and support each other.

Kevin Hager, YVC’s instructional designer, has dreamed of a space like this since joining the college more than eight years ago and calls it a major step forward for the campus and community.

“The concept of universal design has been around for a number of years,” said Hager. “When the pandemic happened and so many of our faculty were forced to quickly transition their courses to the online environment, it became clear that having a TLC was crucial.”

With support from the UDEAL (Universal Design for Equity and Accountability in Learning) grant and COVID relief funds, Hager and YVC’s Distance Learning Committee began working on envisioning what a new space could be.

“The project has been in development for the last several months, however, supply issues forced some delays — it’s great to finally see it come to fruition,”  said Hager.

“We are trying to give [faculty] the tools and knowledge to move forward and provide different kinds of learning for our students.” — Kevin Hager

The new facility includes three spaces where faculty can work to enhance their instruction. The first is a smart classroom, where faculty can practice utilizing the equipment and tools available in most YVC classrooms, rehearse presentations, record lessons and provide small trainings to peers. Another area is a gathering space with laptops available where faculty can develop course materials or meet with peers to discuss curriculum or other collaborative projects. The third area is a studio where faculty can record video and audio lessons to help enhance their courses.

Hager envisions the space serving as a hub for faculty development and innovation, ultimately helping to meet the needs of students who learn through different modalities.

“I’m excited to help support faculty to design new ways for students to learn and connect,” said Hager. “Not all students are linguistic learners. The way higher education is currently setup it does not always support the various learning styles. That’s why having more multimedia tools and options for students is so important.”

Hager is also excited to help faculty make their visions come to life.

“I love when faculty come to me with new ideas and want to know if they are possible,” he continued. “Our faculty have lots of good ideas that support their work and together we can learn and figure out how to make their ideas work. We are really trying to break down barriers that have prevented them from doing things better.”

YVC’s center will also help disseminate campus-wide strategies and actively pursue projects that improve classroom experiences. Another key principle for the TLC is to be responsive to institutional goals and priorities, and to work in collaboration with faculty and academic units, guided by their learning goals.

The project is a partnership with faculty, staff, and administrators. The center is open by appointment this quarter.