Eastern Launches “Chalk & Table”

You have two options: read this article about Chalk & Table, Eastern’s new learning collaborative, or visit the freshly-launched chalkandtable.com to experience things yourself. “Chalk & Table,” formerly the Center for Teaching and Learning, began in January at the suggestion of the Organizational Design Task Force. It was initially created to offer tools and resources to Eastern faculty, as well as to help connect faculty across campuses. Dr. Michael Thomas, Director of Chalk & Table, reflects, “At one St. Davids faculty meeting, we realized that there were about five people in a room of a hundred who knew and were known by someone at Esperanza. That’s a problem.” Eastern needed a space for separated people to interact, and Chalk & Table was born to provide it.

But the purpose of Chalk & Table quickly expanded beyond this. Dr. Thomas reflects, “There are great conversations going on at Eastern, but people don’t know about those conversations, even in Radnor. We want to invite more people into them.”  Hence, the name “Chalk & Table” rather than “Center for Teaching and Learning.” “We want our site to be something that anyone can find on a Google search,” says Dr. Thomas. “Every university has a Center for Teaching and Learning. We want this to be something different.” The website is not a place to find forms, but “a beautiful and communal space for anyone, inside or outside of Eastern, to talk about teaching and learning.” To quote the website, it is a place for “people who are interested in how people learn, grow, and succeed” to get together to grow. It is an invitation to conversation.

The staff take the “invitation” and “collaboration” aspects of their vision very seriously. One of the main tabs welcoming visitors to the site is titled “Collaborate,” and is split into three sections: “Write A Blog,” “Lead A Discussion,” and “Create A Video.” Here, visitors can get as involved as they want, and people are already taking them up on the opportunity. Drew An Brubaker, a senior at the St. Davids campus, has written about learning from two of her incredible professors; Sandy L. Haney, EU Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, has written about what it’s like to be a first-year professor. Three video interviews have been posted in the ongoing “Impact” video series; two videos have been shot for the upcoming “Inspired Learning” series. One of these latter videos includes an interview with a higher-up from squarespace.com, in which he describes his unique, beyond-the-classroom learning journey. Already, this site has become a public space. There’s lots going on, more is yet to come, and if you want to be a part of it, the staff “would love to come alongside and help you make that happen. According to the website, Chalk & Table is meant to be “a place where creative collaboration is the norm, not the exception; a place where people from all walks of life have a voice to share their learning experiences and life changing moments; [and] a community of people who are not afraid to hear and learn from others who are different from them.” It is meant to be a helpful collaborative that Eastern can be proud to call its own. And to make this happen, say the staff, “we need your voice. We need your perspective, wisdom, and experience.” So, they’d like to ask: “Up for joining in?”

If so, then explore the site, email the staff, or stop by ELC 214.

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