Northwestern University: TEACHx symposium returns in-person with the theme of ‘Reconnect’

Northwestern University’s popular TEACHx symposium, highlighting innovative experiments in teaching and learning, returned to an in-person event this year. More than 200 faculty, graduate students, learning designers and education technology specialists attended TEACHx 2022 last month at Norris University Center to learn from their peers.

This year’s theme was “Reconnect,” with a dual focus on teaching with technology and teaching with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Dozens of experts from across Northwestern and elsewhere discussed various teaching methods developed over the course of the pandemic, including how remote and in-person teaching experiences have informed each other.

Kicking off the day, neuroscientist Mays Imad delivered the keynote address, “Beyond Theory: Bearing Witness as an Act of Love, Resistance, and Healing.” In her talk, Imad discussed the power of knowledge and how understanding the neuroscience of toxic stress can empower instructors to self-regulate and help students cope, engage, connect and learn.

Imad is an assistant professor of biology at Connecticut College. She also is a Gardner Institute Fellow and an American Association of Colleges and Universities Senior Fellow within the Office of Undergraduate STEM Education.

The sessions that followed Imad’s talk included a mix of presentations, panels, workshops and pre-recorded videos. Topics ranged from pandemic-era mentorship and video in the online classroom to flexible course design and creating a culture of digital inclusion and accessibility. The daylong event concluded with a networking reception.

“As Northwestern moves away from remote teaching, it is vitally important that we understand the experience of students and teachers during this time,” said Victoria Getis, director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at Northwestern Information Technology.

“The innovations we’ve seen will shape our ‘next normal’ for our classrooms, both physical and digital,” she said. “TEACHx is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the incredible work our instructors have been doing during very difficult circumstances and to celebrate their achievements.”

One of the highlights this year came midday when three instructors were inducted into the inaugural class of the Northwestern Canvas Hall of Fame. Nominations came entirely from students and were in one of three categories: Most Innovative Course Site; Best Use of Lecture Videos/Recordings; and Excellence in DEI/Accessibility.

More than 660 individual nominations were received for 360 instructors from all 12 Northwestern schools. The winning instructors are:

Katie Gesmundo, assistant professor of instruction in chemistry and co-director of General Chemistry Laboratory, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, for Most Innovative Course Site
Ilya Mikhelson, associate professor of instruction in electrical and computer engineering, McCormick School of Engineering, for Best Use of Lecture Videos/Recordings
Ray Noll, affiliated faculty, SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-22) in the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Weinberg College, for Excellence in DEI/Accessibility