Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Learning Communities

Learning Communities

Learning Communities enable a diverse cohort of educators from across the university to dive deeply into an issue, challenge, or set of topics related to your professional careers. The time, space and resources encourage you to learn new ideas and strategies for application, promote your ongoing reflection, and provide you with opportunities to share insights – all within a community of dedicated colleagues. We offer a range of learning community themes that support educators striving to enhance their teaching effectiveness.


2017-18 Learning Communities

Getting A Good Launch for New(er) Faculty
Facilitator: Patrick O’Sullivan (CTLT)

Launching an academic career is exciting for all but is typically quite challenging for most – especially if you try to do it alone. You can accelerate your success with the support of CTLT and your peers by participating in a learning community specifically for early-career faculty. The purpose of this learning community is to support your journey toward “scholarly teaching” by exploring and applying research-informed best practices. It is designed for those relatively new to university teaching and will establish your foundation for ongoing growth and success. 

Download syllabus here

Reinventing the Large Lecture
Facilitators: Patrick O'Sullivan (CTLT) and Solina Lindahl (ECON)

Large lectures present instructors with distinctive challenges when they strive to embrace active learning, student engagement, collaboration, and frequent feedback in support of student learning. This learning community is designed to support instructors facing the challenges of creating powerful “learn by doing” experiences in lecture hall settings. The purpose is to provide large lecture class instructors guidance, support and deliberate practice to improve their students’ learning. It will draw on materials and activities developed at UC Berkeley with the support of a National Science Foundation grant and deeply embedded in high-quality scholarship. 

Download syllabus here

Teaching Today’s American Student
Facilitator: Joe Grimes (CTLT)

This is for educators who find it challenging to provide an effective learning experience for today’s students. It will be particularly well-suited for international faculty as well as anyone else seeking to connect better with American students. We will focus on achieving high success in student learning through activities based on community members’ needs. Numerous resources will be available and we will have the opportunity for classroom video observations, midterm chats with students, and individual consultations. Teaching will be central but we can also address other aspects of faculty life such as research, service, and life in the area. 

Download syllabus here


Quality Online Teaching Academy (QOTA) (Full)
Facilitator: Catherine Hillman (CTLT)

Hybrid and online course design offers new and exciting ways to engage students beyond the lecture model, and deliver flexible learning opportunities for students as well as instructors. In addition, developing a hybrid course is excellent preparation for transitioning it into a quality fully online course. This Academy will explore the pedagogy of online course design and teaching with a focus on best practices, collaborative learning processes, and how the online class can provide a Learn by Doing environment for students. We will engage in hands-on course development sessions where you are invited to bring a laptop and receive guided assistance in creating online course modules.  

Sign up for a Learning Community


Learning Communities Design

While the topics vary, all CTLT Learning Communities share the same purpose: to create new understandings and abilities to improve student learning. All Learning Communities also share the following features:


  • Communities span the academic year (Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters)
  • Limited size to promote engagement (i.e., 12-15 members maximum)
  • 10-12 two-hour sessions over the year (typically on alternate Fridays)


  • All Cal Poly instructors and staff (full and part-time) are eligible to apply for a LC. Because Learning Communities are sometimes offered concurrently, participation is limited to one LC at a time.


Learning Communities utilize a workshop format that places a premium on collegial inquiry, collaboration and sustained engagement. The following activities occur routinely:

  • Discussing and critiquing relevant research literature
  • Engaging in exercises and activities to unpack, analyze, critique and apply insights
  • Developing, practicing, sharing, and assessing teaching materials that apply concepts and principles
  • Reflecting to assess progress and to determine next steps
  • Documenting individual and group insights gained through the LC and sharing within the community with artifacts shared with the broader campus community


The most benefits to individuals and to the community accrue when participants attend regularly to engage in activities and collaborations with colleagues. Participants generate and share culminating artifacts that are designed to apply your new knowledge and perspectives and to document your progress and development in the Learning Community. Artifacts vary from community to community, and might include a portfolio of new or redesigned teaching materials, revised professional development plans, a series of blog posts for the CTLT website, or in some cases an article or conference paper. You are also encouraged to use your artifacts for your annual reviews and other promotion/tenure packets.


Stipends ($500) are available for successful completion of the learning community expectations (regular participation, delivery of culminating artifacts) as detailed in each syllabus. Eligibility for stipends is determined by university policies. 

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