2023 Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology (SITT) is one for the books!
An increase in attendees, participation, and engagement were hallmarks of this year’s Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology (SITT), held virtually over the course of two days on September 14 and 15, 2023. The annual event showcased how instructors are using technology in creative ways to help students succeed. This year, presenters honed in on key issues facing instructors—improving classroom communication and collaboration. These issues and potential solutions drew 111 attendees—a more than 10 percent increase over 2022. While the methods to bring classrooms together and boost engagement varied among the six live presenters, they agreed on the need to meet students where they’re at—in digital spaces.
A Digital Connection
Highlighting apps such as Discord and Poll Everywhere, faculty members shared ways they are utilizing digital tools to engage students in conversation and facilitate collaboration. They are finding that opening up in tech-friendly spaces allows for a sort of democratization of engagement. Students who may be too shy or unwilling to speak up in class are on more equal footing with those who are outspoken and outgoing. In digital spaces, students are more likely to contribute ideas and build rapport with their classroom community. Instead of distracting from lessons, these tools are allowing instructors to get back to the basics of teaching—conversation, group connection, finding common ground, and storytelling. It is dressing up classic concepts in tech clothing.
“I hope that they came away with innovative ideas on how to improve classes, a sense of community from connecting with faculty across disciplines, and curiosity about existing and new techs that will allow them to scale up excellent instruction and create collaborative communities,” Dr. Andy Jones, academic associate director of Academic Technology Services (ATS) and one of the organizers of SITT said.
Success in Numbers
Keeping with the theme of the presentations, organizers also took a digital approach to engage attendees. Instead of sending out a post-event survey, they incorporated Zoom poll questions throughout the event. This led to an improved response rate—52 percent of attendees provided feedback in real-time—and thoughtful responses. Here are some of the attendee comments…
"The panel conversations were really well done…thank you for some amazing facilitation!"
"Personally, I feel like everything is working at SITT. I don’t really see anything that could be improved at this point. I’m just so happy it is on Zoom because it makes it so much easier for me to attend."
"I find SITT always inspiring by seeign what instructional strategies are used in conjunction with technologies. I love to lead the quarter with new ideas."
Along with an increase in engagement and attendance, SITT 2023 drew attendees from 42 departments—44 percent of attendees identified as staff or other (e.g. grad students or former employees), while 56 percent were faculty members. Leading up to the virtual event, many faculty volunteered to present at SITT.
“We get more presentations than we can accommodate, so the SITT Advisory Committee and staff have a challenge of figuring out which presenters and presentations would appeal to the largest audiences,” Dr. Jones said. “They did an excellent job of choosing top presenters and the presenters took SITT very seriously. It was very organized, engaging, and varied.”
While the virtual SITT presentations and discussions provided attendees with a wealth of information and insight, there’s even more on The Wheel. Through the Instructional Technology blog of UC Davis, you can find a wealth of on-demand video content, including interviews and additional faculty presentations. With all the offerings and positive outcomes, Dr. Jones says SITT 2023 is one for the books.
“There are quantifiable and qualifiable markers of success. From the steady uptick in attendance and engagement to the abundance of faculty members who submit to present. It was a huge success. I was particularly impressed this year by the uniform excellence of asynchronous presentations and all the support and innovative ideas from the SITT Advisory Committee. I also greatly appreciated working with instructional designers Margaret Merrill and Mark Wilson because they are so organized, insightful, and hard-working. They are the two people who make SITT work year after year,” Dr. Jones said.
The date for SITT 2024 has not yet been set. Dr. Jones says a Google form will likely go out in the spring to gauge attendee and presenter interest. In the meantime, you can revisit the presentations given live or watch faculty interviews and online-exclusive presentations over on The Wheel at https://wheel.ucdavis.edu/sitt-2023-on-demand.