Luke Waltzer Leads Center for Teaching and Learning
There’s an exciting new initiative at Baruch College with a familiar hand at the helm.
The initiative is the Center for Teaching and Learning, and its director is Luke Waltzer, formerly assistant director for educational technology at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute.
Luke has a clear understanding of the goals of the Center. “The immediate priority for the Center for Teaching and Learning is to support the college’s goal, as laid out in the Strategic Plan to make a certain number of courses available in online and hybrid formats by 2018,” Luke explains. “This will take place, of course, within a wide range of discussions about pedagogy.”
He points out that there’s a lot more to implementing online instruction than just putting content online. “The college is very concerned that these aren’t just courses taken from a face-to-face (classroom) format and placed into a new one, but are really part of a process,” he says. “So the Center will be helping faculty members think about how curriculum should respond to new environments---to think about the differences in teaching online versus face-to-face. The Center will help coordinate and manage the resources of the school in a way that supports conversations about instruction.”
More traditional forms of pedagogy won’t be overlooked by the Center. “A center for teaching and learning has to be engaged in all conversations,” Luke says. “I think that face-to-face classes can benefit from seeing what’s happening in online and hybrid classes, and the more intensified the dialog about pedagogy is here on campus, the better.”
Luke is a tech aficionado. Surprisingly, his technological skills were all self-taught. “I have always supported myself in jobs that gave me space to learn new things,” he says. “I’m not a technical wizard or software developer, but I know the language. So I am able to speak with technicians.”
After adjuncting in Baruch’s history department and working as an Instructional Technology Fellow with the Honors College, Luke joined the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute in 2006 as a writing fellow. He was working on his PhD in History at the time, but had long been interested in technology, specifically integrating technology into the humanities. Luke quickly jumped in and after two years was hired as project manager for digital learning. It was about that time that Blogs@Baruch came into being, with Luke as its architect. Anyone who has had a blog on the platform knows that Luke was the go-to guy. He, along with former Institute Director Mikhail Gershovich have grown Blogs@Baruch into one of the most active college publishing platforms in the nation.
Though Luke is moving up to a new position, he won’t be abandoning Blogs@Baruch. He will continue to run the program of which he is justifiably proud. “All of our freshmen are blogging and it’s all being aggregated into one space,” he says. “I don’t know of any college that has every freshman blogging. It’s a great introduction to community and provides a foundation for the rest of their career.” And that addresses another vital goal of the Strategic Plan: to enhance the student experience.