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At this year’s TEACHx, keeping the student experience front and center

Annual conference sparks innovation, with topics ranging from AI to alternative grading to data integrity
The 2023 TEACHx conference included a keynote by professor Bryan Dewsbury on equity-minded education, panel discussions and hands-on virtual reality experiences.

Northwestern’s annual TEACHx conference, a celebration of teaching and learning innovation, last month welcomed more than 300 faculty, students, learning designers and education technology specialists to learn from guest speakers and their peers. Topics ranged from artificial intelligence and alternative grading to data integrity and diversifying curricula.

Each May, TEACHx showcases innovative approaches to teaching and learning with technology through interactive workshops, presentations and networking receptions. This year also featured panels in which students discussed which approaches to creating inclusive and adaptive student experiences they found most effective. The conference is open to the Northwestern community as well as attendees outside Northwestern.

TEACHx 2023, held May 17-18 at Norris University Center, began with a half day of workshops including one featuring Thomas J. Tobin of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tobin provided an overview of universal design for learning (UDL), how to scale up efforts beyond individual actions and how to talk with colleagues to establish UDL communities of practice.

The next morning, professor Bryan Dewsbury delivered the keynote address, “Beyond Inclusion: Education for Civic Engagement and Participation.” In his talk, Dewsbury discussed equity-minded education and what such an approach can look like in the classroom. He urged teachers to understand the difference between the potential and the readiness of incoming students, especially first-generation college students and those with marginalized identities. 

Dewsbury is an associate professor of biological sciences at Florida International University. He is the principal investigator of the Science Education and Society research program, which focuses on the social context of teaching and learning in a variety of educational contexts.

Keynote speaker Bryan Dewsbury urged teachers to understand the difference between the potential and the readiness of incoming students.

A full day of sessions, presentations and the Northwestern Canvas Hall of Fame ceremony followed Dewsbury’s talk.

TEACHx is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other and from the best in the field,” said Victoria Getis, senior director of Teaching and Learning Technologies in Northwestern Information Technology. “This year’s conference had a thought-provoking keynote, hands-on virtual reality experiences and panels of distinguished and interdisciplinary faculty. What makes me so proud, though, is the extent to which the student experience is considered in every session.” 

The Northwestern Canvas Hall of Fame, established last year, was created to honor instructors who went above and beyond to create engaging learning experiences for their students using the Canvas Learning Management System. Nominations come entirely from students and are in one of three categories: Most Innovative Course Site; Best Use of Video; and Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Accessibility.

More than 682 individual nominations were received for 442 instructors representing 515 courses from all 12 Northwestern schools. This year’s winning instructors are:

  • Aude Raymond, Christiane H. Rey and Patricia Scarampi, co-teachers, department of French, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, for Most Innovative Course Site
  • Emily Kadens, Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law, Pritzker School of Law, for Best Use of Video
  • Annie Wilkinson, SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow (2022-24) in the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Weinberg College, for Excellence in DEI/Accessibility

Torsten Menge, a finalist in all three categories, received an honorable mention. Menge is an assistant professor in residence in the Liberal Arts Program at Northwestern University Qatar.

First held in 2016, TEACHx is an annual collaboration between Northwestern Information Technology and the Office of the Provost. The conference aims to develop avenues for connection and collaboration in a variety of learning environments.