Today for “Staff Spotlight” we’re sitting down with Scott Davis, Curriculum Technologist, to learn about his role with the College.
Schoolcraft College: Hello, Scott! To start out, you have a very cool title! So, what exactly is a Curriculum Technologist? What does a “normal” day look like and what do people need to know about your role?
Scott Davis: Thanks! I think it’s pretty cool, too. According to my job description, “The Curriculum Technologist uses design principles and practices to provide essential project leadership and support for the execution of the College’s strategic curricular and assessment initiatives.” It also mentions that the person in this position “collaborates with faculty and administrators in the implementation of course, program and institutional level assessments and facilitates the use of appropriate and expansive technologies.”
That’s pretty complicated, so perhaps I can break that down by answering your second question.
On a “normal” day, I’m working on many different projects to support Schoolcraft’s mission and vision. Some days I work with faculty or subject matter experts to design exciting new courses and programs, or revise existing ones to keep them fresh and aligned to labor market demands. That is the best part of my job – learning about a topic and building the curriculum that both students and employers want.
Often my day is also spent finding ways to utilize technology in the work my department, OCA, does to keep the College running smoothly and efficiently. For example, maintaining a database of courses and programs that feeds the website and our common syllabi. I also get to learn new software (Project Management, LMS, CMS), and keep on top of the latest trends in educational technology.
Additionally, I am involved in several committees on campus. I support the institutional assessment initiative on campus. I am directly involved with the Curriculum Committee where faculty and administrators approve new curricular offerings. I serve on the Online Instruction Committee, reviewing online courses and ensuring they are held to a high standard of excellence. And most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as an Associate Editor for the Community College Enterprise, a prestigious peer-reviewed research journal.
SC: Please compare and contrast how your role and work has changed since before the pandemic and how operations are now.
Scott Davis: Nobody could have predicted 2020. I remember in early March when things started to get serious. There were over 1,000 for-credit sections that semester, and the entire College had to work quickly to keep as many of them running as possible. I got to work with a great team to help faculty pivot their courses to online mid-semester. Much of that work involved providing the tools and confidence to instructors so they could teach online, many for the first time. It certainly forced everyone to upgrade their technology skills.
I don’t believe my role has changed much, but how I get my work done is dramatically different. All my face-to-face meetings were suddenly via Zoom. Instead of visiting various departments across campus, we were all now seeing each other in our respective homes.
The pandemic certainly changed society’s relationship with technology. It allowed us to continue our work, school, social and family obligations. I hope it also helped us increase our empathy and sense of what it means to be human as things begin to normalize.
SC: You have been with Schoolcraft College since 2014. What changes have you seen over the years in your role?
Scott Davis: The College has changed dramatically since I first started here. I’ve seen the addition of several buildings (the Jeffress Center, St Joe’s Sports Dome and Mercy Elite Center, the MEC building), as well as major renovations across campus. I’ve also seen a lot of faculty and staff retire from Schoolcraft after spending 15, 20, or even 30 or more years working here. As the College has grown and changed, new talent has come on board. I hope to see that continue, and for even more opportunities to recruit and retain talented individuals.
There have also been many new programs launched, including a Culinary Bachelor degree, Brewing and Distillation, Pharmacy Technician, Plastics Technology, Real Estate, and many new opportunities in the medical field just to name a few. In my role I get to see these programs start as an idea, gain momentum, and eventually become a reality. I’m also excited about all the new opportunities still on the horizon.
SC: You had some teaching experience early in your career. Please tell us about that.
Scott Davis: Sure. I started as a 6th grade social studies teacher in a charter school in Detroit connected with the College for Creative Studies. I taught both middle and high school in and around the Detroit area for about five years. During that time, I earned my M.A. in Educational Technology and then came to Schoolcraft.
Teaching has shaped the work I do every day. The core product we offer is the student experience. I want to do everything I can to make it as smooth as possible. My job is to collaborate with faculty, staff and administration to develop pathways to success while removing as many barriers along the way as possible.
I still think like a teacher in the work I do. Whether it is curriculum or assessment, I want to look at what skills the student is gaining as a result of the learning process. This is important so that everything aligns to and is in service of the end goal.
Perhaps the end goal is a specific job, a nationally recognized certification, or to transfer. We would work to develop a program that leads to that outcome. That work requires us to develop the courses to make up those certificates and degrees, down to the course competencies and types of assessments used in those courses.
SC: How do you see the different modalities of teaching (and learning) in higher education playing out? What does the future – both near-term and long-term – look like to you?
Scott Davis: Schoolcraft has been a leader in online learning long before 2020, and I don’t think that will change. With the addition of a new modality, Remote, I see the College continuing to meet the needs of our students.
Near-term I think the pendulum will swing back to more in-person instruction. I think perhaps people are a little burned out from all the web conferencing and are wanting more face-to-face interactions. Also, some skills just require that hands-on learning component.
Before the pandemic, about 70% of the for-credit sections were face-to-face. Long-term I still see in-person instruction being the majority of sections, but Online/Remote learning has more than proved itself and is here to stay.
It’s likely that many of those students (and even a few professors) who may have been hesitant to “go online” actually enjoyed the flexibility and would choose to continue in that modality. My colleague just shared this article titled Teaching: Why an Active-Learning Evangelist Is Sold on Online Teaching about a well-known professor, Eric Mazur, and his experiences. I think it really speaks to the larger trend in education. Technology has allowed for a more personalized learning experience, and for more opportunities for students to become active in the learning process. That said, these strategies could work just as well in a Traditional section.
SC: Thank you, Scott. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Scott Davis: Schoolcraft is a community college, and has always focused on meeting the community’s needs. Our job is to be a transformative force in the lives of our students, hoping that they in turn go out and be a positive influence in the world. I try to live by the motto, “Do Only Good Every Day.”