Academy of transformation

TTADA (Ta-dah!) sounds magical, but its goal to spread enhanced teaching expertise is anything but smoke and mirrors

Tom DiLorenzo

UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo leads discussion among a new UND group known as TTADA , which will pull together the units now known as the Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies, the Office of Instructional Development, Office of Extended Learning and Learning & Development, as well as Joan Hawthorne, director of assessment and regional accreditation. The academy is the result of yearlong discussions between the units and the Provost’s Office. Photo by Tyler Ingham.


It’s the interjection one hears when something has just been unveiled or transformed in some magical manner.

That’s why it’s so fitting to say the acronym for UND’s new Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTADA) out loud.

“One of the things I like about it is it captures that this kind of work should be fun. Integrating innovative pedagogy across the curriculum is important, exciting work,” said UND Senior Vice Provost Debbie Storrs, who is leading a team charged with developing a new collaborative unit that will enrich and support teaching and learning on campus.

TTADA will pull together the units now known as the Center for Instructional and Learning Technologies (CILT), the Office of Instructional Development (OID), Office of Extended Learning (OEL) and Learning & Development (L&D), as well as Joan Hawthorne, director of assessment and regional accreditation. The academy is the result of a year of discussions between the units and UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo.

“My vision for TTADA is a single enterprise that shares expertise and resources and is devoted to providing quality professional development, training and pedagogical innovations in alignment with the One UND Strategic Plan,” DiLorenzo said.

“The way it was laid out, it was very siloed,” he continued. “We looked at how we would combine all of these units that have something to do with teaching enhancement and build a juggernaut.”

Values and mission

A preview of the power of this relationship occurred this spring with a professional development series called “Enhancing and Expanding Student Learning in Changing and Challenging Times.” Since then, the directors of the units have been strategizing how a permanent academy would function.

In June, the group shaped TTADA’s core values and mission statement.

“It was that first step to make us feel like we really are one unit,” said Learning & Development Director Carrie Herrig. “What we created as core values still really speak to each one of our areas – as we were separate and now as we’re under one umbrella.”

TTADA’s five core values create a clear picture of the unit’s intended outcomes: student learning, a shared commitment to lifelong learning, evidence-based practice, empowerment and collaboration.

A prime example of how these values will be brought together is online learning. Strategic Plan Goal Three, which includes creating more online opportunities for students, will require support for faculty to do so effectively. With CILT, OID and OEL working together, faculty will learn how to create online courses using technology and teaching strategies that truly engage students.

“I look forward to our work with TTADA and am excited for our future, especially with increasing quality and standards for UND’s digital learning,” said Lynette Krenelka, director of UND’s Office of Extended Learning.

“We hear more and more that students want their courses to be more digital and accessible,” adds CILT Director Lori Swinney. “This academy is a perfect opportunity for us to showcase exciting innovations in instructional design and technology.”

“I genuinely believe that faculty care deeply about student learning. The reality is, the environment in which we’re working is shifting rapidly,” said Program Director of Instructional Development Anne Kelsch. “But there really is a chance here for us to embrace some of the approaches that we know can have a bigger impact.”

TTADA won’t support instructors alone – UND staff will be equally served.

“My primary role is still going to be centered on staff development,” Herrig said. “However, Anne Kelsch and I are going to be looking at how we can bring together faculty and staff in more unique ways with specific topics.”

Herrig added that the ultimate goal is that both faculty and staff have the tools they need to be successful personally and professionally. “When they do, it enhances the student experience, and that’s ultimately what the One UND Strategic Plan is about,” she said.

Debbie Storrs

UND Senior Vice Provost Debbie Storrs is leading a team charged with developing a new collaborative unit that will enrich and support teaching and learning on campus. Photo by Tyler Ingham.

Strategic support

DiLorenzo can list all of the ways TTADA supports the Strategic Plan on cue – just ask him next time you see him.

“Goal One – how do we help faculty transform their teaching so that we’re actually creating critical thinking skills with high-impact learning practices? Two – how do faculty enhance their teaching to lead to more success for students so that they’re retained at higher levels?” DiLorenzo grinned as he continued through Goal Seven.

“I told the group that the Strategic Plan has to be a part of everything they’re doing,” he continued, adding that their outcomes must be measurable against the plan’s metrics. Hawthorne’s work with assessment will be a vital piece in quantifying that success.

Storrs said it will be important for TTADA to prioritize offerings given its budget, and that her team will be collaborating with deans to show the significance of their support in meeting Strategic Plan goals. “We can say to them, ‘If you invest in this program, here’s the value that you’re going to get. We’re willing to do this work if you’re willing to invest in it,’” she explained.

Many factors of TTADA are yet to be worked out through the summer. The unit directors are currently locking in development initiatives that have proven successful, such as the Alice Clark Mentoring Program, and brainstorming new sessions.

Also to be decided is where on campus TTADA can come together physically, how unit websites will be integrated, new sub-unit names and position titles, and how finance and record management will be handled.

“It’s going to take some time,” Herrig said. “But I think this is going to be a truly different UND than it’s ever been before, because of what this academy is going to be able to do.”