Faculty and Student Support System for Online and Blended Courses

Paul Collins (Adler School of Professional Psyschology, US)
Zoaib Mirza (Adler School of Professional Psyschology, US)
Session Information
November 9, 2011 - 1:30pm
Faculty and Professional Development and Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Blended Program/Degree; Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere C
Session Duration: 
35 Minutes

Create a support system for faculty and students who are teaching and learning online and blended courses in Psychology using Moodle; Web 2.0 for synchronous collaboration, and SMART technology for on-campus and blended classes.

Extended Abstract

-- This topic has been presented at the SLOAN-C Blended conference and won the Best Practices Award 2011 - http://sloanconsortium.org/effective_practices/faculty-and-student-support-system-blended-courses. For SLOAN-C Online, this presentation has been modified to add our support for online program and include more improvements, which have been incorporated to enhance faculty and student support systems for online and hybrid courses.-- Adler School of Professional Psychology has been offering blended courses since Winter 2009 and will begin their first 100% online program from Fall 2011. The school was recently relocated and with almost 17% increase in student enrollment, the Leadership Team has taken an initiative to recognize and promote the efforts to create a support system for faculty and students. We are still in the early stages of implementing all the necessary changes, but have taken the first step by taking surveys and conducting interviews. We took some imperative measures , which are surely leading us to a successful path to improve our course offerings in Moodle; using applications like PBworks, Survey Monkey, Vimeo, MyEmma, Google Sites, and WebEx for communication and collaboration; and SMART technology in classroom to facilitate on-campus, hybrid and online classes. Adler Online and the Information Technology department worked in collaboration to build a solid foundation to provide faculty and student support system for blended and online courses. Surveys and Interviews We conducted a student event to talk to students about their experience and expectations from Moodle, current support and instructor experience. We asked students and faculty to complete online surveys, which were created in Survey Monkey. As a result of weekly reminder for couple of months, 44 faculty and 55 students completed the survey. Their information helped us to take the following actions: Support and Communication Information Technology department was already using a Helpdesk support account to support and troubleshoot the school's technical needs. To use a focal point of contact for hybrid/online students and faculty we decided to create an Adler Online support account. This helped Adler Online to minimize response time and focus to hybrid and online students and faculty. This account became a center point of contact for sending mass communication and providing instructional design and Moodle support. Information Technology and Adler Online agreed on a decision tree to filter and forward issues based on the nature of the problem. For remote support we are using WebEx and LogMeIn, which has drastically improved our support to faculty and students. For mass communication and timely notifications to faculty, we decided to use MyEmma - after comparing it against Constant Contact and MailChimp. From many MyEmma features, we are currently using listservs, email templates and stationery, and tools to track and email reports. Courses in Moodle - Policies We moved from Scholar 360 to Moodle. We did not have a system in place to know which courses should be copied over for the next semester. The courses had content created by the instructors, but there was no ownership of the content in place. This led to high volume of support emails from both students and faculty. We began a process, approved by the Chairs Council, and created a course spreadsheet to identify master course shells and course authors, so that our Moodle administrator had a correct list of courses to copy over. Based on our survey, we created an Adler course template to provide consistency to all course. The key attributes were color scheme, course navigation, and standard support resources for library, technical help, and student support. Several copyright violations were identified by the Library department this past term. Therefore, from Fall 2011, both Library and Adler Online decided to disable instructor's capability from uploading any content. All content will be processed by the Library and Adler Online, then created and save it in the Moodle CRS. Technology and Training PBworks, Google Site, and Vimeo We did not have an online resource section on our website. Therefore, as a short term solution, Adler Online and Information Technology department decided to use PBworks to collaboratively work together to create a process to identify students and faculty Moodle FAQs, and agreed to use Google Sites and Vimeo to post all the resources and tutorials. SMART The Adler School has incorporated the Smart Technology© interactive whiteboard systems as its primary classroom collaboration technology. We have found the interactive potential of the system to integrate multiple content sources through an intuitive, touch-based platform to have become and engaging and even compelling presentation medium for both our faculty and our students. Combining this delivery platform with the flexibility of multiple content sources (embedded computer, external laptop, DVD, VHS, and HDMI inputs) as well as web-based has provided our faculty a powerful means to more creatively immerse our students with high-impact content that more actively received by our students. The touch-based interface, apart from conveying a sense of sophistication, allows our faculty to present more naturally, thus focusing more on the content objectives of the course and less on its delivery. The ability to capture the collaborative discussions and notes through this system and conveniently post them electronically or send them to students through email messaging extends the value and impact of the learning potential of our classrooms.