With the help of technology, top administrators and cooperation between different departments of the University, the Center for Teaching and Learning will soon be open. The center's mission will be to improve the academic skills of all members of the University community – from freshmen to professors.
As a joint effort by Firestone Library and CIT, the Teaching and Learning Center hopes to improve the academic experience at the University by reviewing the more traditional aspects of education and helping to incorporate the newest technology into the classroom, said Associate Provost Georgia Nugent '73, who is directing the initiation of the program.
The center will be temporarily located on C-floor of Firestone Library, but its permanent location will be in the new Campus Center, which is expected to be completed in the year 2000.
New wave of technology
Before the center moves to the Campus Center, its interim home in the library will include a large room of computers to develop digital collections – similar to multimedia CD-roms. The room will also provide a training space for faculty to learn one-on-one from CIT staff.
Jacqueline Brown, director of information services at CIT, worked with Nugent to evaluate how technology can be used in the classroom.
"More and more faculty are interested in involving technology (in the classroom)," she said.
The Teaching and Learning Center will incorporate CIT's resources to help professor and preceptors to prepare Web pages, utilize the Internet in their classes and use digital images and text, Nugent said.
Brown called the collaboration of the library, CIT and the Teaching and Learning Center a "tripartite."
"It's very exciting to be part of a collaboration with those organizations," she said.
Staff from the PLACE, a branch of CIT that works with faculty using electronic resources, will also be at this new center location.
Rafael Alvarado, coordinator of humanities and social sciences computing, will serve as mediator between the Teaching and Learning Center and the digital collections room.
Alvarado said that he expects digital collections will be incorporated into classes and will eventually find a place in the card catalogue.
"We want students to be familiar with all resources Princeton has. We'll get you started," Alvarado said.
While his role deals with instructional technology, Alvarado said, "The mission of the center is much broader."
'Precept on precepting'
To address the more traditional areas of education, a series of discussion on the precept system will be held this spring.
"The precept system is a teaching format unique to Princeton," Nugent said. "We all have different expectations of precept."
The focus on the precept system stems from discussions with the USG and the Council on the Princeton University Committee, that voiced a need to define a more universal structure for precepts.
Nugent spoke about eventually taking some of this "campus-wide conversation and distilling the best of that into a permanent form," such as a pamphlet for professors, preceptors and students.
Nugent explained that the discussions will focus on both the traditional aspects of precept as well as the incorporation of technology into precepts. She added that theses discussions will allow undergraduates and professors to learn from each other.
Campus-wide seminars and panel discussions will be held as part a "precept on precepting," Nugent said.
Other programs will be sponsored by certain academic departments and will be more specifically aimed at preceptors and professors. For example, the English and history departments will conduct seminars for both staff and students.
In the future, the center will collaborate with the Teacher Preparation Program and the Writing Center.