I don't know about you, but I have been amazed at the energy surrounding the start of this semester. As I walked IU campuses in August, I saw students smiling, engaging in pop-up events, and making new social connections. The enthusiasm for being a student at an IU campus and the excitement for what the future holds is visible in our students' disposition and manner.
Yet from my past work focused on undergraduate student success, I know that many of these students, particularly first-year students, will encounter obstacles, setbacks, and challenges as they progress through the fall semester. Just as our work as faculty around teaching and learning has become more complex since March of 2020, so, too, have student experiences around learning. We all want to help students overcome obstacles and succeed, but how do we do that?
Do you remember KeepTeaching.IU? I know, it seems like 10 years ago that you first learned about that, even though it was likely only in 2020. Developed prior to the pandemic, it was designed to ensure there was an information resource available should an emergency occur that would force remote work across the university.
KeepTeaching.IU attracted such interest that we decided to revamp Teaching.IU, launched in fall 2021, to provide a wonderful starting point for teaching resources and stories about how faculty use various technology resources. It also represents an illustration on how we can collaborate and clearly organize the university's resources related to teaching and learning, with the Office of Completion and Student Success, the Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching (FACET), and UITS all playing a significant role in the development of Teaching.IU.
Thankfully, several of my forward-thinking colleagues (Becky Torstrick and Jeannette Lehr) asked the question, "Why can't we do the equivalent of Teaching.IU for students?" After all, we are a very large and sometimes challenging institution for students to navigate. Students often ask, "Why can't you put everything I need in one place?"
Everything a student needs around their courses should be available in Canvas. But Canvas does not provide students with advice on how to succeed in a course or where to go if they have a problem. What if a student has a challenge with a technology embedded in a course? What happens when a student does not know where to go after they don't do as well as they had hoped on an exam? Or more broadly, how do students take the right steps to achieve their career goals? These are all questions for which Canvas does not have answers, but where resources exist.
Having easily accessible resources available to our students is important to ensure every student succeeds. Some students have familial and social structures that they can turn to when they have questions or problems about how to navigate a big university like IU. Others do not. We must seek ways to eliminate these gaps in information and knowledge.
The answer is Learning.IU, a one-stop shop focused on helping students be successful at Indiana University.
Learning.IU offers a variety of insights and resources related to studying and developing as a professional. Learning.IU also includes tips and resources related to staying healthy, both physically and mentally. And we have replicated the tech tool finder search capacity found in Teaching.IU, refining it into a version tailored to students.
I have had numerous conversations with faculty who want to help our students work through challenges, but often the challenges stretch beyond the scope of a specific course. Learning.IU hopefully provides a starting point to answer student questions and provide advice on resources that might be helpful. Feel free to embed information about Learning.IU into your syllabus or give it a mention or two in class. Every little bit helps as we all strive to help our students succeed.