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August 31, 2017

Teaching Center Introduces New Programs, Initiatives for 2017-18 Year

Gabrielle Dean at the Center for Teaching and Learning

Gabrielle Dean, manager of Classroom Services in the Center for Teaching and Learning, cleans up a 3D print of a molecule while Will Hinson (background), lead technologist for Classroom Services, uses virtual reality technology to view and manipulate a dinosaur skull in the Teaching Center’s Open Lab.


Assistant Professor Erin Anderson came to the University Center for Teaching and Learning in hopes of enhancing her digital nonfiction workshop and walked away with the tools and knowledge needed for an engaging new project.

Anderson envisioned her students producing microdocumentaries in the style of The New York Times’ The Daily 360 series. These online videos allow audiences to engage with digital content — readers can move the camera view up, down, left and right to experience 360-degree views. Pedagogy experts and technology staff from the Teaching Center’s Open Lab played an integral role in the project’s development, securing the needed cameras and providing an in-class demonstration. The final results were a series of short documentary segments that gave Anderson’s students hands-on experience with cutting-edge journalism technologies.

“In this particular course, students experiment with a range of media to create multisensory nonfiction narratives,” said Anderson, who joined the Department of English’s Writing Program in 2016. “When I first got the idea to experiment with 360-degree video in my teaching, I saw it as a long-term goal that might come to fruition over the next few years. Working with the Teaching Center’s staff, I developed and piloted a project with my students in a single semester.”

The Open Lab is one of the newest programs within Pitt’s University Center for Teaching and Learning. Established last summer, Pitt’s Teaching Center brings together faculty, pedagogy experts and technologists to advance teaching and educational practices.

“The University Center for Teaching and Learning is the hub for teaching innovation at Pitt,” said Cynthia Golden, the Teaching Center’s founding director. “This is an exciting time for the University Center for Teaching and Learning and the University of Pittsburgh as a whole. The 2017-18 academic year brings rich opportunities for development and growth, and we want the Pitt community to know that we are here to be a partner in that growth process.”

Enriching the Teaching Experience

Launching in September with nearly 50 participants is the Pathways for Faculty program, which will assist faculty members in becoming better classroom instructors. Participants partake in one of four discipline areas designed to deepen and enrich aspects of their teaching practice: implement research-based teaching strategies into coursework, enhance online and hybrid courses, examine issues of diversity and inclusion or engage decades of accumulated research on teaching and learning.

Developing, Fostering Graduate Student Instructors

The Graduate Student Teaching Initiative offers a variety of resources exclusively for graduate and professional student instructors to develop their teaching skills. Interactive workshops on a diverse range of topics — including “Developing a Syllabus” and “Teaching Inclusively” — are one resource available to the next generation of university faculty. Trained teaching consultants are available to give in-classroom observations and feedback, confidential advice on teaching matters and one-on-one counseling sessions for students preparing to enter the professional teaching job market.

Engaging with First-Year Faculty

The Learning Essentials Program is a teaching-learning community that helps new faculty navigate their first year of teaching at Pitt. The program consists of monthly lunch meetings, where junior faculty members will be able to connect with more experienced colleagues on teaching issues. Classroom observations and one-on-one feedback sessions will also be offered. Interested Pitt faculty members can apply for the program by completing an online application (available here) or by contacting Pitt’s Teaching Center at


Anthony M. Moore,, 412-624-8252


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 1

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