Report of the Committee to Review of the Resource Centre for Academic Technology at the University of Toronto and Administrative Response

PDAD&C#2, 2009-2010


TO: Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
FROM:        Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost
DATE: July 9 2009
RE: Report of the Committee to Review of the Resource Centre for Academic Technology at the University of Toronto and Administrative Response

The Resource Centre for Academic Technology was established in 2001 to facilitate access to effective teaching, learning and research strategies using computer technologies. The Committee to review the Resource Centre for Academic Technology has released its Report and has highlighted the need for an integrated teaching advancement and instructional technology unit. I am grateful to the Review Committee for their report as well as to all those who participated through various mechanisms in this important review process.                                            

                                                                                                                        Click here for the review report.

The Review Committee has deliberated carefully and I am pleased to accept their recommendations and address each one:

Recommendations 1 and 2: These recommendations speak to the relationship between the RCAT, OTA and the Office of the Vice-President and Provost. I concur with the recommendation that RCAT and the Office of Teaching Advancement (OTA) form one integrated unit that incorporates instructional technology within a broader teaching support and advancement mandate. The recommended change in name will signal this new role. I also accept the point that the integrated Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) should be led by the OTA Director and I support the recommendation that CTSI report to the Vice-Provost Students.

Recommendation 3: Given the importance of the integrated services relating to technology, I support the recommendation that the Director engage in discussions with the CIO in order to investigate how services can be best provided to the university community.

Recommendation 4: I appreciate the Committee’s advice on the space challenges faced by RCAT and OTA. Robarts Library has been approved to undergo renovation and reconfiguration. Once the integrated mandate and structure of CTSI has been clarified, I will work with the CTSI Director, the Chief Librarian and Facilities and Services to outline its space needs. There may be relatively straightforward and low-cost means that will support CTSI work and ensure that seminar needs are met.

Recommendation 5: I concur that the CTSI would benefit from an advisory board with members as recommended by the Review Committee. I will consult with principals and deans in order to ensure the TLTAC has an appropriate representative composition to advise on CTSI’s development.

Recommendations 6, 7: The Committee recommends that CTSI, as with many university-wide units, provide leadership, support, co-ordination, and evaluation for instructional technology and teaching. I concur that CTSI have a dual role in serving as both a “instructional technology observatory” for sound pedagogical practices and evaluation of new technologies that support teaching and learning. I also agree with the point that in order to progress, CTSI must effectively communicate its mandate and work with academic divisions, local support units, teaching staff and graduate teaching assistants.

Recommendation 8: Given that we recognize and celebrate our best teachers annually, I am happy to specify that excellent and innovative use of technology in teaching should be recognized through our current teaching awards. I also consider that CTSI will continue to coordinate nominations for institutional, national, and international teaching awards, including technology in teaching, and to represent the University of Toronto on those bodies that deliberate on and promote teaching excellence.

The Committee also suggests the establishment of instructional grants to support teaching initiatives including technology. I thank the Committee for this helpful suggestion and will take it into consideration when feasible.

Recommendations 9 and 10: The review committee highlighted a critical role for CTSI to coordinate with and support divisional units as well as continue the support for academic divisions that do not have local support staff. CTSI’s mandate requires strong lines of communication with academic divisions and local units.

The University is committed to supporting the advancement of teaching and instructional technologies throughout all of our programs. The review report encourages this endeavour, confirming the need to integrate the use of instructional technology in support of our pedagogical practices.