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>  News Releases >   2004 >   April

Luxon to direct new center for learning

Posted 04/14/04

English professor will be first Cheheyl Professor

For all the great teaching resources available to the Dartmouth faculty, Associate Professor of English Thomas Luxon thinks something is still missing.

"One-stop shopping," he said. "There are a lot of tools on campus that faculty can use to support their teaching, but the College has never really had an organized way to get information about them to the faculty. Each new person has to discover them on his or her own. It's very decentralized."

Thomas Luxon
Thomas Luxon (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Luxon hopes the soon-to-be-established Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning will make it easier for faculty members to find the resources they need, especially in applying advanced information technology to their teaching. Initiated by the offices of the President and the Provost and supported by alumni gifts from Gordon W. Russell '55 and R. Stephen Cheheyl '67, DCAL will bring together in one location information and resources that faculty members can use in their teaching.

"There are a lot of support services for students, but this is the first one that's really just for faculty," said Luxon, who has been appointed the Cheheyl Professor and Director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. All faculty members from the arts and sciences and the professional schools will be welcome to make use of the center's services, he added.

Although his appointment doesn't take effect until July 1, Luxon is already reaching out to people around campus for ideas. One of the center's first projects will be creating an orientation program for new faculty members and graduate student instructors. The program will include information about Dartmouth culture, as well as about pedagogy.

"There are faculty who've been here for a couple of years, and they don't know what a citation is, or what the honor principle is, or that they can get help from academic computing," Luxon said.

Revising and continuing the fellowship programs for senior faculty members working on new curricular ideas, particularly those that deal with technology, will be another priority.

"This has been such a successful venture that we'd like to do two a year," Luxon said. "We also want to involve each fellowship recipient with a support group that would include someone from the library, a technology person from academic computing and a student."

If all goes according to plan, the first DCAL programs will be in place by next fall. In the meantime, an advisory board is being formed and preparations for hiring two full-time staff members are in process. Sometime next winter, DCAL will move into renovated office space in the east wing of Baker Library. When complete, the DCAL offices will have videoconferencing facilities that can accommodate 40 people and smart-classroom equipment for use in demonstrating uses of technology in the classroom.

In time, Luxon hopes the center can establish relationships with other academic centers on campus, like the recently announced Center for Intellectual Coalitions or the Center for Education and Neuroscience. It's too soon to know what those relationships will look like, but Luxon said he envisions DCAL as a "funnel for the practical application of the educational research that comes out of those centers.

"This is a modest start, but eventually we want to be a connection point to the rest of the world about current thinking on education and teaching," Luxon said.

by TAMARA STEINERT

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