New Faculty Roles in the Emerging Digital Ecosystem

July 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

Picture of Tweet by Karrie Newby: Today, I led a session at AAC&U’s Institute for Integrative Learning and Signature Work that focused on what new roles or identities faculty play as they advance integrative and applied learning in the emerging digital ecosystem.  I began with a tweet from the Institute Opening plenary that points to one new role–Academic Spotter–playing of the role of a spotter in weightlifting.  Below are the description, slides, and references from that session.  Later, I’ll post the inventory of  challenges associated with three of those identities, as well as strategies to address them that session participants developed.

If all information is available online and the best professors are giving their lectures away for free, do we really need so many faculty members? This questioning underlines our need to redefine the faculty role in a way that advances the goals of liberal education. Rather than merely being repositories of content knowledge, faculty must help students progress along the path to mastering life-long learning. Terminal degrees indicate not only content expertise, but also the transferable learning skills of a master-learner, including synthesis, analysis, evaluation, and creativity. The key faculty roles, then, are mentoring and modeling learning, collaborating with students as they build learning networks, and helping students learn to self-evaluate as they develop the agency to become life-long learners. This session will explore alternate models for understanding the faculty role drawn from digital learning models and strategies for promoting that role at the individual, departmental, and institutional level. It will also examine the role of contingent faculty in this ecosystem. Participants will collaboratively create a toolkit for redefining faculty roles on their own campus. Please bring your laptops, tablets, and/or smart phones.


Tweet by Karrie Newby (@pairboymom). 7:09 PM 11 July 2017.

Ferren & Paris, Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning, (AAC&U, 2015)

Innovation Fellowship:

Bass, Randy, and Bret Eynon. Open and Integrative: Designing Liberal Education for the New Digital Ecosystem. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2016.

Dweck, Carol. The Power of Believing That You Can Improve. TED Talks. December 17, 2014.

Transparency Project:

Brown, Brené. The Power of Vulnerability.

Anbar, Ariel, and Lev Horodyskyj. “Habworlds Beyond.”

Dian Schaffhauser. “A Simple DIY Approach to Tracking and Improving Student Learning Outcomes.” Campus Technology (5/20/2015):




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