Teaching inspiration dispenser

I just had this fun (I think) idea of a “teaching inspiration dispenser” for faculty development (inspired by Laura’s Instagram post on her experience with a @shortedition kiosk): I basically want a receipt printer, located somewhere centrally on campus, that gives out small pieces of paper with teaching inspiration or tips when people press a button.

It can be charged with new ideas

  • from every teaching workshop that happens (we’d just ask people to write minute papers at the end with their best teaching tip; either one of their own, something they heard about, or the best idea they got during the workshop),
  • from what students wish teachers thought of,
  • from what the Centre for Teaching and Learning thinks is good advice or inspiring to think about,
  • from what visiting scientists share,
  • from what we read or hear about,

All we need is a really short text (maybe with the author’s name and date, to make it more personal and relatable?), and then there need to be a couple of dozen of those in storage, so people are not likely to get the same one too often if they are repeat customers.

I think something like that would be awesome to

  • just share interesting ideas (“Mmh, I wonder if I should try…”),
  • generate conversation (“Guess what the teaching inspiration dispenser told me this morning?”),
  • be a collectible item that people put on their pin boards above their desks or maybe even swap or pass on to someone else who they think might benefit from the idea,
  • represent artefacts of collective learning as the database behind it grows.

There is of course also the much more boring low-tech version (much less appealing that pressing a button and seeing paper coming out!) where we just have a big bowl of folded pieces of paper where people pick one. We could colour-code the paper, e.g. the light green spring edition of newly added pieces of paper, or the red ones are for large classes. People could also easily put in their own pieces if they wanted to contribute; that way it’s not moderated and thus more democratic. So maybe it’s an equally good or even better option?

I’m the kind of person who would really love getting the physical piece of paper, sticking it in my bag, finding it weeks later and being reminded of the thing I wanted to try in my teaching. Even though I get so much inspiration and so many ideas from social media, podcasts, blog posts, books — just having a small piece of paper with an interesting thought would really appeal to me. A bit like a fortune cookie, except with some useful advice and minus the cookie (not a fan, but YMMV. Maybe the teaching inspiration cookie would be something for you?).

What do you think? Would you enjoy getting teaching inspiration that way? Would you want the automated dispenser or would you prefer to pick from a bowl?

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