The month of May proved to be a celebratory month for The University of Texas School of Information Professor Bo Xie. In addition to receiving the 2019 AiTC Innovative Programs Building Partnerships Award, Dr. Xie was also awarded a Faculty Innovation Center (FIC) Instructor Learning Community (ILC) Grant for the 2019 to 2020 cycle.
As campuses continue to embrace diversity, it is critically important that classrooms become more inclusive environments to ensure that everyone is offered fair educational opportunities.
Instructor Learning Community (ILC) Grants are intended to support in-depth discussions and problem solving around key issues in teaching in classrooms, clinics, studios, or labs. This year (2019 - 2020), grants will be used to build instructor capacity for supporting an inclusive classroom climate.
Xie’s fully funded ILC project, titled, “Cultivating inclusive classrooms in the Schools of Nursing and Information,” involves organizing monthly discussions where instructors work together to develop learning communities that can foster and support inclusive classrooms.
The FIC Instructor Learning Community Grant will help to raise awareness about the many facets of diversity and inclusion, and especially less visible ones such as gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and ability.
In reflecting on this FIC Grant, Xie commented, “By bringing together instructors from both the School of Nursing and iSchool, we are more likely to identify common challenges – and become more aware of unique challenges others might be facing.”
A Professor with joint appointments at UT’s School of Nursing and School of Information, Xie has always been interested in making learning more inclusive, more diverse, and more resilient, as evidenced in her decade-long dedication to the development of her research program, Electronic Health Information for Lifelong Learners (eHiLL).
In addition to Xie, seven other Instructor Learning Community grants were awarded across campus. Funds of up to $2,500 were awarded for projects that assemble small groups of instructors to discuss and learn together about inclusive teaching practices.
Learning communities will gather a minimum of three times over the fall 2019 semester to discuss, compare notes, and learn –from each other and invited experts on diversity and inclusion— about critical best practices for ensuring inclusive classrooms.
“What we learn from these discussions will be summarized and shared within the UT community, and with broader audiences beyond UT,” explained Xie. “Raising awareness is a critical first step.”