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Fusion Teaching and the Future of Faculty Autonomy

I have had the honor of serving faculty and teachers for the vast majority of my 30 year career. During that time, I have not met a single one that was not willing to explore a new technology or new approach to how they teach when treated like a scholar. This is among thousands of educators at the schools and colleges where I served as well as conferences where I presented. Whether I was their direct supervisor or a colleague, not one "resisted change" when they were not treated as though they were a barrier. Engaging faculty takes time, and more importantly, transparency. It is only through this clarity that trust can be built as the foundation for scholarly exploration.

Administrators continue to optimize class sizes, enrollment, and budgets while faculty and their representative bodies work toward protecting academic integrity and the working conditions required to sustain communities of inquiry. All the while, the outside world of work continues to embrace new ways of achieving competencies and skills that offer economic advantages to so many. We seek to hold a moral high ground of academic integrity and the social value proposition unique to higher education, at a time when technology and artificial intelligence push boundaries only described in science fiction not a decade ago. How can we preserve that integrity, foster communities of inquiry, increase economic relevance, and sustain if not grow enrollment in a post-pandemic world? Whatever bold approach your college takes, it should undoubtedly engage faculty. Perhaps part of the answer to the wicked problem of student success is to rethink it from the perspective of faculty success.

If this intrigues you, I encourage you to explore "Fusion Teaching." Fusion teaching is the strategic combination of teaching and learning practices with the intentional design of physical classrooms, hybrid schedules, and course activities, increasingly grounded in faculty autonomy. This approach celebrates faculty autonomy and new dimensions of scholarship. This faculty autonomy, grounded in success and retention analytics, occurs across an interconnected spectrum. The adaptation, delivery, and assessment of fusion courses is guided by ongoing research in student success analytics and corresponding faculty practices leading to higher rates of retention and success. Fusion course shells serve as starting points in this model of maximum agility. Faculty autonomy exists at the heart of this model. By empowering faculty with expanding options for course design, delivery, and assessment, we embrace a new era of scholarship and activated collegiality.

If you'd like to learn more, follow Jayden and Professor Perez in my series of articles posted at There, you can see what this new approach to teaching and learning looks like from the perspective of the faculty as well as the student. In the coming era of deep analytics and "hyper-personalized" education, we must assure faculty ownership throughout our continued evolution across public and higher education. Unions and senates can be your greatest allies in this journey as we all move forward in the spirit of what I call "activated collegiality."

Dr. Stephen Dunnivant

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