History of the Institute for Learning and Teaching

The Beginning

The Institute for Learning and Teaching had its beginnings in 2005, when the Provost and President set aside funds for a new on-campus program dedicated to the advancement of learning and teaching at Colorado State University.

Initially named the Center for Pedagogical Advancement and Learning Inquiry, its purpose was to provide faculty the support formerly offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Office of Instructional Services (dissolved in 2003 and 2005 respectively).

The old Music Building renamed the TILT Builiding
TILT moved into its new home on the historic Oval in March, 2009. Built in 1928, the building originally housed CSU's first dedicated, stand-alone Library and later served as home to the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Serving as its board of directors, the University Distinguished Teaching Scholars met in early 2006 to choose a more fitting name for the new unit, define its mission, and create a position description for its first director. Following a national search, Mike Palmquist, a CSU professor of English who had joined the faculty in 1990 and who had become a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2000, was named director, effective September 15, 2006.

TILT's initial staff included administrative assistant Shirley Guitron and instructional designers Shaun Beaty, Patricia Cantrell, and Sandra Chapman, as well as two campus liaisons—Debora Colbert from the Division of Continuing Education and Sally Hibbitt from ACNS—both with 25 percent appointments.

In July 2007, the Office of Service Learning and its director, Clayton Hurd, moved from SLiCE to TILT and, Peter Connor, Web content writer, editor and, subsequently, the Institute's Director of Communications, came on board. In 2008, Patricia Cantrell accepted a new position with CSU Global, Kathy Zellers and Craig Spooner joined the instructional design team, and Justin Switzer filled the need for an instructional materials developer.

Assigned temporary quarters in the basement of the Andrew G. Clark Building (A-wing), TILT began pursuing its mission while awaiting the completion of renovations on its permanent home in the University's planned learning center, formerly the Music building and, prior to that, the University's first dedicated, stand-alone library.

In late 2007, in consultation with the Provost's office, the colleges, and the University Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the Institute's mission was expanded to include a focus on the direct support of student learning, engagement, and advising, and the planned learning center was given the Institute's name.

To implement the expanded mission, the University's Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships and its director, Heather Esterday, joined TILT in the fall of 2008 while national searches were launched for directors of the Institute's Learning Programs, Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry (OURA), and Office of Academic Concierge. Mark Brown, OURA's new director, was welcomed to the Institute in January 2009. Heather Landers, director of Learning Programs, joined the Institute in April 2009. In July, 2009, Elaine Green joined TILT as director of its new Academic Integrity Program and Craig Spooner left TILT to focus full time on his work for the ACCESS Project.

Renovation and refurbishing of the former Music building on the CSU Oval, into which The Institute for Learning and Teaching then moved, was completed in the spring of 2009. Shortly thereafter, the Center for Advising and Student Achievement (CASA) and the Transfer Advising Center moved in as well.

Program Growth and Realignment

Since 2009, the Institute has seen significant growth in the number of students supported through its learning and engagement programs. Between 2009 and 2014, for example, the number of students reported to be engaged in the kinds of mentored inquiry supported by OURA grew from 1,400 to nearly 5,000, while the number of student visits to the Arts and Sciences Tutoring Program, housed in the Russell George Great Hall, grew from 4,500 to more than 14,000. Altogether, Learning Programs, through its tutoring program, study groups initiative, academic skills workshops, and enrichment activities, more than quadrupled the number of students it served. In 2010, Christie Yeadon joined Learning Programs as associate director and Amanda Purnell was promoted from an administrative coordinator position to associate director of OURA.

During the same period, the course development team was seeing significant growth as the Division of Continuing Education increased its reliance on TILT for online course development. Daye Collier and Mariane Heim joined the course development team. Justin Swizer was promoted to course developer and, later, to instructional technologist. Barbara Maynard, who had been hired initially as a writer and editor, was promoted to course developer. And in 2010, Debora Colbert joined TILT as a member of the course development team following a transfer from the Division of Continuing Education.

In summer 2011, the accumulation of cuts to the Institutes's budget—cuts that resulted from University-wide reductions in funding beginning in the 2008 fiscal year—resulted in the move of support for nationally competitive scholarships into the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry. Support for students entering the University with prestigious scholarships, such as the Anschutz, Boettcher, Griffin, and Monfort scholarships, also moved to OURA.

The same year, following the departure of long-time Director of Service-Learning Clayton Hurd, Margit Hentschel was hired as Director. Lori Woodruff became TILT's budget coordinator. Later, following her departure, Inger Johnson joined TILT as budget coordinator.

In 2013, in response to growth in Learning Programs and OURA, Darrie Burrage joined Learning Programs as Associate Director and Stephanie "Mo" Moreira and Mary Swanson joined OURA as Associate Directors.

Since its founding, the Institute has maintained a strong focus on the professional development of instructors in the areas of learning and teaching. These efforts, initially led by the director of the Institute, were managed by Sandy Chapman from 2009 until 2012, when Debora Colbert became Director of Professional Development. The Master Teacher Initiative, led by University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Doug Hoffman, currently has programs in all eight colleges, the Library, and Student Affairs, reaching virtually all instructors through the regular distribution of teaching tips and drawing roughly 1,000 faculty, staff, and graduate students annually to its luncheons. The Professional Development Institute, now in its fourth decade of existence and coordinated by the Institute since 2009, drew more than 1,000 participants to its January 2012 event and has maintained that enrollment level in every year since. The Graduate Teaching Certificate Program, launched in 2008, has enrolled more than 400 students. Other Institute initiatives in this area include short courses; summer teaching retreats, conferences, and workshops; a university-wide orientation for new graduate students; and a colloquium, seminar, and workshop series. Institute staff have also developed a large collection of Web-based guides, tips, and videos addressing a range of learning and teaching issues.

A Focus on Course Development and Design

Since 2007, the Institute has been engaged in the design and development of face-to-face and distance courses. With funding from the Student Success Initiative, the Provost's Course Redesign Competition supported the redesign of more than 60 courses between 2007 and 2011. In January 2012, the competition was expanded significantly, with the goal of redesigning 100 courses over a five-year period. The expanded program, made possible through a major gift by the Division of Continuing Education, funding from the Provost, and significant private giving, uses a "learning ecologies" approach to course redesign. This approach builds on the distinctive array of resources available at a residential university to shift the focus of course redesign to enlist resources across the campus in the support of learning and teaching. This initiative, in combination with increased work on online courses funded by the Division of Continuing Education, resulted in the growth of staff supporting course development. Between 2011 and 2014, Tonya Buchan, Elaine Chen, Mitzy Forbes, Chris Geanious, Dave Johnson, Stan Kruze, Katie Little, Greta Steber, and Gregory Wells joined the TILT course design team. In 2013, to support work on the Institute's websites and instructional technology initiatives, Nolan Smith joined TILT as a web developer and programmer. In the summer of 2014, in response to the University's decision to move to the Canvas learning management system, Neely O'Connor and Lydia Page joined the course design team as one-year appointments.

In 2012, Dave Johnson took on duties related to course assessment and analytics, splitting his duties between course developent and his new assignment. In 2014, Sean Burns joined the analytics team. Dave and Barbara Maynard were each promoted that year to instructional designers.

The partnership between the Institute and the Division of Continuing Education, dating back to the founding of the Institute, contributed significantly to the growth of the Institute. Since 2007, the Division of Continuing Education has supported the hiring of instructional designers and course developers. The TILT online course design team has worked with faculty in departments and colleges across the University on the development of more than 100 distance courses. The members of this team have also contributed in significant ways to the professional development of faculty and staff at the University in areas such as teaching online, using instructional technology effectively, and developing interactive teaching materials, among others.

In 2014, Mike Palmquist became Associate Provost for Instructional Innovation with oversight of TILT and the Division of Continuing Education. Shaun Beaty served as Interim Director of the Institute until, following a national search, Gwen Gorzelsky became Executive Director of the Institute on September 1st. During the same year, TILT underwent a restructuring that resulted in the appointment of four directors. Shaun Beaty and Sandy Chapman, formerly the associate directors of TILT, became, respectively, Director of Instructional Technologies and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Mark Brown became Director of Student Engagement. And Heather Landers became Director of Academic Affairs. In late 2014, Robbe Thibault became TILT's budget coordinator.