Faculty Satisfaction

FACULTY SATISFACTION means that instructors find the online teaching experience personally rewarding and professionally beneficial. Personal factors contributing to faculty satisfaction with the online experience include opportunities to extend interactive learning communities to new populations of students and to conduct and publish research related to online teaching and learning. Institutional factors related to faculty satisfaction include three categories: support, rewards, and institutional study/research. Faculty satisfaction is enhanced when the institution supports faculty members with a robust and well-maintained technical infrastructure, training in online instructional skills, and ongoing technical and administrative assistance. Faculty members also expect to be included in the governance and quality assurance of online programs, especially as these relate to curricular decisions and development of policies of particular importance to the online environment (such as intellectual property, copyright, royalties, collaborative design and delivery). Faculty satisfaction is closely related to an institutional reward system that recognizes the rigor and value of online teaching. Satisfaction increases when workload assignments/assessments reflect the greater time commitment in developing and teaching online courses and when online teaching is valued on par with face-to-face teaching in promotion and tenure decisions. A final institutional factor-crucial to recruiting, retaining, and expanding a dedicated online faculty-is commitment to ongoing study of and enhancement of the online faculty experience.

Effective Practice Awards Submissions Due June 30

Submitted by janetmoore on May 27, 2010 - 2:06pm
New effective practices  submitted by June 30 are eligible for awards to be presented at the July 21, 2010 Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium Awards Presentation Luncheon.
Thousands visit effective practices for innovative practices supported by eviden
Author Information
Author(s): 
Angela Gibson
Author(s): 
Priscilla Coulter
Author(s): 
Susan Satory
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
American Public University System
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Summary
With the goals to increase student connection to the online library, to develop academic research skills, and to foster student success in a first-year online course, a collaborative program between librarians and faculty was created and yielded positive results including student growth in information literacy skills, reduction in student anxiety in navigation and utilization of the online library, and high level of student academic success.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Bringing the Library to Life: Live Librarian Instruction in a First-Year Online Course

Summary
With the goals to increase student connection to the online library, to develop academic research skills, and to foster student success in a first-year online course, a collaborative program between librarians and faculty was created and yielded positive results including student growth in information literacy skills, reduction in student anxiety in navigation and utilization of the online library, and high level of student academic success.

Background
Just under a third of all college students leave the institution after the first-year (ACT, 2012; Barefoot, 2000, 2005; Kinzie, 2014, Kuh, 2008) and 47% of college students fail to matriculate at the original four-year institution, 56% dropping before the start of the second-year (Tinto, 1987, 1993). Meanwhile, online higher education continues to grow at a rapid rate; over 7.1 million students took at least one online course in the fall of 2013, an increase of 400,000 students from 2012 (Allen and Seaman 2014). Positive interactions with university faculty and staff are critical to student engagement, learning, and persistence. Information literacy is a crucial component to higher education, but first-year students are typically unaware of their own substandard academic research skills (Gustavson & Nall 2011). Offering a diversity of library interventions can help these students gain the skills they need to succeed (Latham & Gross 2013). Librarians and library services can play an important, lasting role in promoting student confidence, connectedness and academic success (Regalado 2003, Zhong & Alexander 2007).

APUS is a fully online institution both regionally and nationally accredited serving over 90% adult learners and over 50% military learners. College 100: Foundations of Online Learning students are those new to American Public University System. Students encounter lessons, assessments, and discussions that require information literacy skills; that is the ability to identify, search for and evaluate appropriate sources of information for college-level assignments. However, students frequently contact faculty, librarians, and technical staff with questions and sometimes declarations of frustration or anxiety about navigating the library indicating a need for basic library orientation and research skills training. Students' apparent lack of familiarity with the Online Library, undeveloped information literacy skills, and varying learning preferences may impede successful achievement of course objectives.

Innovation
An initial pilot was developed in spring of 2013 with five sections, two taught by one faculty and three taught by another, to offer synchronous sessions with students hosted by an APUS Online Librarian during designated times within the eight weeks of the course. Though not integrated into specific assignments for the initial pilot, students participating in sessions received additional credit. From student feedback recorded through an open discussion forum with the instructor, it was determined that those students taking advantage of the Adobe Connect sessions stated they were more familiar with the library, that they were more confident in their navigation and research skills, and that they believed the information assisted them in related assignments. The two faculty of the small pilot concurred with student statements and recommended expansion of the initiative.

Stemming from the smaller project early in 2013, a pilot was developed offering synchronous office hours with APUS Online Librarians for 28 selected COLL100 classes with October semester starts. Five Librarians volunteered time to schedule regular sessions. The lead Librarian for the project, and co-coordinator of the initiative, developed a short five-stop video tour of the APUS Online Library focusing on orientation and navigation skills as well as areas deemed critical to first-year student success and development of basic information literacy skills such as databases, eBooks, journals and articles, and working with the deep web. A pre and post-session quiz was created to assess student attitudes and knowledge acquisition from the Live Library sessions. Again, results from the expanded pilot indicated student skill development, higher levels of confidence, and better rates of success in library and research associated assignments for those participating in the sessions.

The innovation was initiated again in April of 2014 expanding in sections to verify results. Thirty five sections, and nineteen faculty, of the April College 100 semester participated in the project. Between Week 2 and Week 8 there were 19 two hour Live Library sessions held live via Adobe Connect with Librarians providing a demonstration of the main features of the APUS Online Library. Sessions were offered on weekdays and weekends as well as day and evening times. These demonstrations included an overview of components necessary for student navigation and use of the Library for College 100 assignments as well as key elements necessary for success in future courses. Students were able to interact in real time with Librarians through audio or via text chat in the room.

The APUS Librarians from the previous 2013 pilot all volunteered once again to facilitate sessions and work with student. Those unable to attend live sessions made individual appointments with Librarians and/or utilized a Library Tour video and worked directly with the faculty for the section. Beyond a very few technical issues with connections there was overwhelming positive feedback from students and faculty. Students described how anxiety levels on research and the Library were drastically reduced after the sessions, how they learned how to use tools key to success in classes, and how they could now easily navigate with confidence and know where to go when they needed extra assistance. The faculty who attended commented how they learned something new by attending sessions!

In addition to tracking attendance at live sessions, survey and qualitative data provided by students, Librarians, and faculty were gathered from the initiative. Such data provided insight into themes, points of confusion, and engagement in the initiative and learning. Student attitudes, knowledge, and skills were surveyed with a pre and post session assessment. Themes were noted by Librarians during session and in follow-up with students. From within the classroom faculty monitored impressions. Instructors used an open forum to discuss the Library sessions and gather feedback asking students what they learned, how will they apply new knowledge and skills, and thoughts on further exploration. Assignments connected to the Library were analyzed to assess any increase in the submissions and quality of grades as compared to COLL100 classes not involved in the pilot.

Students integrated the learning from the Live Library sessions into assignments in the classroom both directly – as in quiz and reflection requirements for points in attending the session – and indirectly – as in increased knowledge and skills to accurately and more efficiently perform Library and research based assignments.

Overall student GPA, Community of Inquiry (CoI) scores, and End of Course Survey, were analyzed. Of those who participated in the October 2013 pilot sessions 93% of students achieved the course grade of "A". Additionally, just over 90% of participating students achieved the grade of "A" on relevant Library assignments. Over 90% of student feedback, both in the post-Live Library session survey and feedback in the open discussion forum, was positive, indicated a change in attitude (i.e. from anxious or disconnected to confident and engaged), and included comments illustrating student learning and skill development. Similar positive results were indicated with the April 2014 records. Qualitative data pulled from student feedback in communication to faculty as well in response to an open ended prompt on the post-session quiz yielded very positive and validating results. A small sample of student responses are provided:

“I just completed my live library session and it was very helpful. Since this is my first course it really showed me how to navigate through the library. My library host was super nice and there was only two people in the session so she used my topic in a few of the search engines to show me how to get results”.

“I had my library tutorial today, April 16 from 10:00-10:20 my time, 12:00-12:20 eastern.
I will say that I am glad this is required learning for this course. I didn't realize how helpful the library is and I will be sure to utilize it through this class and all my future classes!”

“I learned a lot of things today. I learned about the different ways to search for topic information. Not only books but journals and papers. I learned that I can save the information in a pdf for future reading. I learned where to find help in siting sources. I also learned that I can search frequently asked questions but I can also ask a librarian directly and that they are pretty speedy in a return response.
I'm happy I got into the tutorial early in the course!”

“ I attended the Live Library session on 10 May 2014 @ 10AM (Pacific Time). The APUS Librarian, Mary-Elizabeth Gano, was very helpful in answering all of my questions regarding the library. I stumbled across the COLL100 Course Guide before, but a great degree of clarity was achieved by attending the Live Library session. I kind of felt like I had previously assembled a bike without reading the instructions, only to read the instructions later... and discover that I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration by reading them first. The information regarding the FAQs and the help that the library can personally afford to me was really reassuring (ask a librarian, tutor.com, LibChat, and the help tab). The assistance with how to properly search a website was of great value, as I have a bias toward taking everything on the Internet as gospel”.

“I just did the session at 1 and I must say it is very informative. I advise all my fellow students to check it out. Found some really helpful tools that I can use throughout my entire degree process”.

“I had my Library session on Tuesday. I thought it was informative, however, I had already figured out most of what was covered when I was looking up the research paper topic options. What I did find helpful was the information about the book search. I had not started looking at books a sources yet so when I did start after my session, it made the experience very easy”.

“Unfortunately due to my schedule I could not attend a live session, however; I watched the Youtube tutorials on the library tour. One thing I learned that I didnt know before was that on proquest when searching for your topic, click on the book reference, you can actually type in keywords and it will take you to specific chapters in the book that relate to what your looking for. Sounds much nicer then scrambling through the whole book to find one thing that your looking for. I also like that fact that there is a ask a librarian tab. I also learned about the "Deep Web" .You re just one question away from an answer. What a great service to offer the students”.

“I attended the live library session during the third week. I found the experience interesting and informative. I was at work and was still able to do the drop in. The librarians answered all my questions and dropped a few hints on me through chat. I was able to learn how to refine my searches to get the results I needed”.

“First and foremost I would like to say that Mrs. Susan Satory was amazing in every aspect of the word. This is my first online course ever and she broke it down to an easy and very understandable level. I am not very good with computers but she made me feel very confident and knowledgeable about what I was doing, and made me very comfortable about speaking how i felt and asking questions…. Secondly, The "summon" tool, as a novice researcher and new student when pulling information I always feel bombarded with a whole bunch of useless and "rabbit whole" information. With this tool it allows me to specify exactly what I'm looking for and only generate results on what I choose, which helps new users like myself to further focus on what I want to see”.

“I had not attended a Live Library session prior to creating my Annotated Bibliography. I just finished my session tonight. It was VERY informative, though, and it will definitely make creating my Resources page for my final paper easier. I also was shown ways to search the library that I wasn't aware of before. I think had I attended a session earlier, it would have made my search much simpler.”

Scope, Implications, and Discussion
Identifying gaps in students' information literacy skills and knowledge of the APUS Online Library resources allow librarians and College 100 team members to develop new multi-modal assets within the classroom and the library, and to modify current resources for on-demand instruction that better meets students' needs. Feedback gathered from live sessions is being used to transform frequently visited library assets such as the Ask a Librarian reference service, Course Guides and Tutorial Center resources into more engaging, effective, media-rich learning tools. A live chat within the Library is now being tested as one of the Library's new initiatives to personalize service and aid retention.

Directly related to all of the Sloan-C’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education, the Live Library initiative demonstrates success in learning effectiveness, scale, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction. Learning Effectiveness: The design and delivery of the program including the assets for classroom integration, for Librarian support, and for live demonstration was done with effective practices of online instruction as well as a focus on pedagogy for first-year students including integration of the principles for andragogy to meet the needs of adult learners. Scale: Those involved in the program leveraged the current technologies for recorded, synchronous, and asynchronous interaction, communication, and instructional delivery. Access: Higher levels of engagement with faculty and Librarians created deeper connections with students in what can be a faceless and voiceless environment. Increased engagement and academic success, as pointed out in the literature, can increase persistence and retention. Faculty Satisfaction: The initial two faculty for the smaller pilot strongly recommended to the program coordinators and fellow faculty to expand the pilot. All faculty involved volunteered themselves and their sections for the pilots and participated in Basecamp, a project management site, to obtain information, ask questions, give feedback, and provide recommendations for current and future work with the initiative. Overwhelmingly faculty stated participation in the project was personally rewarding, how they themselves learned something new when attending a live session, and how the information for the students enhanced their ability to effectively deliver instruction. Student Satisfaction: Evident from the sample of qualitative responses, students became connected to not only their current professor but to a staff member, a dedicated, supportive, and knowledgeable Librarian. Students indicated regularly in feedback how they now understood things that had previously confused them, become more confident in abilities to work in the Library and perform research, and affirmed connection of new knowledge and skills to classroom application.

Live Library Office Hours provides new students in their first class at APUS an opportunity to establish a personal connection with a librarian and the Library. Additionally, with synchronous communication, and an interactive demonstration of crucial search skills, student confidence, competence and satisfaction with the library is has increased, along with improved performance on classroom research assignments. The positive impact of improved information literacy skills, and closer relationships with librarians, should linger in future courses as well.

This more engaging format will allow librarians to teach information literacy in a more proactive way, rather than passively awaiting student queries and hoping (often with no student feedback) that their responses are effective. In keeping with the focus of the Community of Inquiry framework, these live, interactive sessions will grant APUS librarians an unprecedented opportunity to establish social presence with new students, developing a rapport that will endure throughout students' academic careers.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

In addition to tracking attendance at live sessions, survey and qualitative data provided by students, Librarians, and faculty were gathered from the initiative. Such data provided insight into themes, points of confusion, and engagement in the initiative and learning. Student attitudes, knowledge, and skills were surveyed with a pre and post session assessment. Themes were noted by Librarians during session and in follow-up with students. From within the classroom faculty monitored impressions. Instructors used an open forum to discuss the Library sessions and gather feedback asking students what they learned, how will they apply new knowledge and skills, and thoughts on further exploration. Assignments connected to the Library were analyzed to assess any increase in the submissions and quality of grades as compared to COLL100 classes not involved in the pilot.
Students integrated the learning from the Live Library sessions into assignments in the classroom both directly – as in quiz and reflection requirements for points in attending the session – and indirectly – as in increased knowledge and skills to accurately and more efficiently perform Library and research based assignments.
Overall student GPA, Community of Inquiry (CoI) scores, and End of Course Survey, were analyzed. Of those who participated in the October 2013 pilot sessions 93% of students achieved the course grade of "A". Additionally, just over 90% of participating students achieved the grade of "A" on relevant Library assignments. Over 90% of student feedback, both in the post-Live Library session survey and feedback in the open discussion forum, was positive, indicated a change in attitude (i.e. from anxious or disconnected to confident and engaged), and included comments illustrating student learning and skill development. Similar positive results were indicated with the April 2014 records. Qualitative data pulled from student feedback in communication to faculty as well in response to an open ended prompt on the post-session quiz yielded very positive and validating results. A small sample of student responses are provided:
“I just completed my live library session and it was very helpful. Since this is my first course it really showed me how to navigate through the library. My library host was super nice and there was only two people in the session so she used my topic in a few of the search engines to show me how to get results”.

“I had my library tutorial today, April 16 from 10:00-10:20 my time, 12:00-12:20 eastern.
I will say that I am glad this is required learning for this course. I didn't realize how helpful the library is and I will be sure to utilize it through this class and all my future classes!”

“I learned a lot of things today. I learned about the different ways to search for topic information. Not only books but journals and papers. I learned that I can save the information in a pdf for future reading. I learned where to find help in siting sources. I also learned that I can search frequently asked questions but I can also ask a librarian directly and that they are pretty speedy in a return response.
I'm happy I got into the tutorial early in the course!”

“ I attended the Live Library session on 10 May 2014 @ 10AM (Pacific Time). The APUS Librarian, Mary-Elizabeth Gano, was very helpful in answering all of my questions regarding the library. I stumbled across the COLL100 Course Guide before, but a great degree of clarity was achieved by attending the Live Library session. I kind of felt like I had previously assembled a bike without reading the instructions, only to read the instructions later... and discover that I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration by reading them first. The information regarding the FAQs and the help that the library can personally afford to me was really reassuring (ask a librarian, tutor.com, LibChat, and the help tab). The assistance with how to properly search a website was of great value, as I have a bias toward taking everything on the Internet as gospel”.

“I just did the session at 1 and I must say it is very informative. I advise all my fellow students to check it out. Found some really helpful tools that I can use throughout my entire degree process”.

“I had my Library session on Tuesday. I thought it was informative, however, I had already figured out most of what was covered when I was looking up the research paper topic options. What I did find helpful was the information about the book search. I had not started looking at books a sources yet so when I did start after my session, it made the experience very easy”.

“Unfortunately due to my schedule I could not attend a live session, however; I watched the Youtube tutorials on the library tour. One thing I learned that I didnt know before was that on proquest when searching for your topic, click on the book reference, you can actually type in keywords and it will take you to specific chapters in the book that relate to what your looking for. Sounds much nicer then scrambling through the whole book to find one thing that your looking for. I also like that fact that there is a ask a librarian tab. I also learned about the "Deep Web" .You re just one question away from an answer. What a great service to offer the students”.

“I attended the live library session during the third week. I found the experience interesting and informative. I was at work and was still able to do the drop in. The librarians answered all my questions and dropped a few hints on me through chat. I was able to learn how to refine my searches to get the results I needed”.

“First and foremost I would like to say that Mrs. Susan Satory was amazing in every aspect of the word. This is my first online course ever and she broke it down to an easy and very understandable level. I am not very good with computers but she made me feel very confident and knowledgeable about what I was doing, and made me very comfortable about speaking how i felt and asking questions…. Secondly, The "summon" tool, as a novice researcher and new student when pulling information I always feel bombarded with a whole bunch of useless and "rabbit whole" information. With this tool it allows me to specify exactly what I'm looking for and only generate results on what I choose, which helps new users like myself to further focus on what I want to see”.

“I had not attended a Live Library session prior to creating my Annotated Bibliography. I just finished my session tonight. It was VERY informative, though, and it will definitely make creating my Resources page for my final paper easier. I also was shown ways to search the library that I wasn't aware of before. I think had I attended a session earlier, it would have made my search much simpler.”

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Directly related to all of the Sloan-C’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education, the Live Library initiative demonstrates success in learning effectiveness, scale, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction. Learning Effectiveness: The design and delivery of the program including the assets for classroom integration, for Librarian support, and for live demonstration was done with effective practices of online instruction as well as a focus on pedagogy for first-year students including integration of the principles for andragogy to meet the needs of adult learners. Scale: Those involved in the program leveraged the current technologies for recorded, synchronous, and asynchronous interaction, communication, and instructional delivery. Access: Higher levels of engagement with faculty and Librarians created deeper connections with students in what can be a faceless and voiceless environment. Increased engagement and academic success, as pointed out in the literature, can increase persistence and retention. Faculty Satisfaction: The initial two faculty for the smaller pilot strongly recommended to the program coordinators and fellow faculty to expand the pilot. All faculty involved volunteered themselves and their sections for the pilots and participated in Basecamp, a project management site, to obtain information, ask questions, give feedback, and provide recommendations for current and future work with the initiative. Overwhelmingly faculty stated participation in the project was personally rewarding, how they themselves learned something new when attending a live session, and how the information for the students enhanced their ability to effectively deliver instruction. Student Satisfaction: Evident from the sample of qualitative responses, students became connected to not only their current professor but to a staff member, a dedicated, supportive, and knowledgeable Librarian. Students indicated regularly in feedback how they now understood things that had previously confused them, become more confident in abilities to work in the Library and perform research, and affirmed connection of new knowledge and skills to classroom application.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Equipment necessary for the effective practice is a learning management system, a live audio and video conferencing or meeting tool, headphones and speakers, standard computer and monitor with standard software, and Web 2.0 tools, such as YouTube, survey tools, and scheduling tools for application.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Salary of faculty and staff along with cost for technology platforms in use at an institution. No additional costs were incurred.

Other Comments: 

Thank you!

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Angela Gibson
Email this contact: 
angelamgibson@hotmail.com
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Pricilla Coulter
Email contact 2: 
pcoulter@apus.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Susan Satory
Email contact 3: 
ssatory@apus.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Naza Djafarova, Director, Digital Education Strategies, The Chang School, Ryerson University
Author(s): 
Melissa Abramowitz, Instructor, Interdisciplinary Studies, The Chang School, Ryerson University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Experiential learning activities, such as role-play, are just as beneficial to students in online courses as they are in face-to-face offerings. Online role-play is an important strategy to allow students to practice skills such as interpersonal communication, problem-solving and negotiation. A range of options exist to support online role-play activity including, text-based, asynchronous, discussion boards at one end of the spectrum and sophisticated, three-dimensional virtual worlds at the other. As a team supporting distance education, we recognized the need for a tool to support the key elements of role-play activity online, while providing ease of use for both instructors and students. In response to this need, the Digital Education Strategies team at The Chang School, Ryerson University, developed an online role-play environment called Lake Devo.

Lake Devo is a highly adaptable online role-play environment and presentation tool. Using any role-play scenario, instructors and students can create scenes and characters and interact in real-time. Role-play activity is captured, and published as a 2-D "movie" that a class may review, discuss, debate and analyze in Lake Devo's self-contained debrief area. Lake Devo’s chat tool allows users to check in with each other “out of role” while they are using the environment.

The environment has been used by students and instructors in a variety of different program areas at Ryerson University to support key learning objectives and evaluations.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Lake Devo environment allows students to undertake real-time role-play interaction online. Ahead of the role-lay activity, individual students create their avatar or role-play character. Each Lake Devo role-play character may be customized using a variety of body types, facial features, clothing and accessories. As a group, students may also choose a realistic backdrop for their role-play activity from multiple settings and sounds relevant to many fields and subject areas, including healthcare, business, and education. Using text, sound effects and modifiable facial expressions for their avatars, students can exchange dialogue, while including non-verbal cues that may not be possible when using text-based tools, such as standard discussion boards, for role-play activity. Work on the environment may be combined with some pre-activities, such as ice breakers, away from Lake Devo, to ensure a strong group dynamic during the role-play activity.

All role-play activity is captured as a role-play “movie” which may be reviewed by the class in Lake Devo’s integrated debrief area. Once “out of role”, this allows students to identify lessons learned and to measure how effectively they have applied their skills. In the debrief area, viewable only by their specific Lake Devo Community members, students can post comments and questions and exchange feedback with their peers.

Because of its flexible and adaptable design, instructors may use Lake Devo in a number of ways to support learning objectives in their courses. For example:
If instructors wish to provide a specific foundation or to have students focus their skills in one particular area, they may create a scenario or scenarios ahead of time, complete with characters, for students to role-play. This is a useful strategy when instructors would like their students to consider multiple approaches or solutions to the same problem.

Additionally, instructors may teach through narrative by creating their own Lake Devo movie(s) for review by students. They may then pose questions for reflection and discussion in the Lake Devo debrief area, which allows students to review a movie as many times as they wish and post their comments in response. An instructor may consider creating multiple short movies with subtle differences, prompting students to distinguish important nuances that can affect the outcomes in a given scenario.

The Lake Devo environment is fully equipped to allow an instructor to set up his/her class as an online collaborative community. He/she may enter students’ information, configure working groups and have the system issue login information to all users.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Since the first version of the Lake Devo environment was designed and launched in 2009, it has been used to support assignments in the following program areas at Ryerson: Interdisciplinary Studies, Retail Management, Fundraising Management, Early Childhood Studies, and Food Security.

Student response to the Lake Devo role play environment has been extremely positive. Student comments include:

“I really enjoyed the Lake Devo group project it was fun and surprisingly simple to use." (The Chang School, Winter 2011, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

“….. it was a great tool that made the group project most interactive. It allowed for a level of creativity that I had not used in the many online courses I have taken in the past. I would recommend it." (The Chang School, Winter 2013, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

“The Lake Devo sessions brought out a lot of real life situations and demonstrated many aspects of mentoring.” (The Chang School, Spring 2014, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

Awards and recognition include:

• National University Technology Network: Honourable Mention, Distance Education Innovation, 2010.
• Canadian Society for Training and Development: Canadian Award for Training Excellence in the “WOW” Category, 2010.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning Effectiveness – Lake Devo makes the most of the online learning environment to support the key elements of role-play activity. Since the debrief aspect of the activity is as important as the role-play itself, the easy capture and retrievable format of the Lake Devo movies help to maximize learning outcomes. Multiple modes of representation (text, visual, audio) provide students with a breadth of options to connect with and inhabit their role-play characters and settings. The collaborative features of the environment encourage the development of learning communities in the context of online course work.

Access – Instructors at Ryerson make use of the Lake Devo environment in a variety of courses at no additional expense to students. The current iteration of the Lake Devo environment is under active revision for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. All Lake Devo movies have an exportable transcript which includes full text description of all visual and audio elements. The environment is equipped with thorough “Help” documentation as well as a video tutorial to support independent use of the features by students with a range of technical abilities.

Student Satisfaction – Students have been consulted through surveys specific to the Lake Devo environment as well as via course surveys for the offerings in which Lake Devo is implemented. Students have reported a high level of interactivity and creativity in using the environment and also identify a specific sense of pride in the products that result from their work in Lake Devo. While student satisfaction with the features of the environment has remained consistent, the Digital Education Strategies team has adopted a continuous improvement approach to the design of the environment and has fully revised the environment over the past 5 years, in keeping with student feedback.

Scale – Classes of any size and from any discipline can easily implement the use of the Lake Devo environment. It can also be implemented by Ryerson’s fellow institutions as the environment is not integrated into a single sign-on portal or Learning Management System.

Faculty Satisfaction – Instructors have demonstrated their satisfaction with the Lake Devo environment through repeated use of Lake Devo in their courses. Over the past five years, Lake Devo has been used by a total of ten online instructors, for at least eight different courses, involving over 35 sections of students. Instructors have also been involved in user testing for the environment, as well as in demonstrations of the environment for fellow faculty.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Students and instructors require no special software or equipment to make use of the Lake Devo environment. The only requirement is internet access and creative ideas for role-play scenarios.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Lake Devo is available for use by instructors and/or students at no cost.

For the Digital Education Strategies unit at The Chang School, the key area of cost for the Lake Devo environment was the original development by the project team. Ongoing costs have now been reduced to incremental resources for student and instructor support during “high traffic” times. Other than these expenses, the additional investments take the form of up-front instructor time to design their own Lake Devo learning activities.

References, supporting documents: 

Please visit the following links for more information about Lake Devo:

• Lake Devo Overview and Video : https://lakedevo.ryerson.ca/Help.aspx

• Lake Devo Gallery of Student Projects: https://lakedevo.ryerson.ca/Movies.aspx

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Naza Djafarova
Email this contact: 
ndjafaro@ryerson.ca
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Melissa Abramovitz
Email contact 2: 
mabramov@ryerson.ca
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Maureen Glynn
Email contact 3: 
maureen.glynn@ryerson.ca
Author Information
Author(s): 
Dylan Herx
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Online learning requires an additional set of skills to be successful. Not only do students need to be self-motivated and be able to manage time, but they also require the ability to learn and use new technologies. The assumptions are : students are digital natives who will naturally adapt to the online environment and usage of educational technology without much instruction; and the other required "soft skills" (time management, professional communication, etc.) of online learning are an imbued part of adulthood. In reality, students in online courses often need specific training on the LMS and other educational technology and need to be forewarned of the expectations that will promote their own success.

This led us to question if some of these stumbling blocks couldn't be addressed before the student took an online course, much in the same way a first-year experience or freshman orientation addresses some of the issues in transitioning from high school to college. From there, we designed an online course orientation provided to all students enrolled in an online course that included short segments about how to succeed, student expectations (professionalism, team work, etc.), and training videos on the various technology tools students might encounter within the university LMS.

Our goal was to determine if this could provide a low-cost effective way to mitigate some of the gaps and, ultimately, help retain and graduate online students.

Please see the attached videos for more information.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Online Course Orientation has short informational segments about expectations and technology. Some include videos, interactive screenshots, or other digital mediums. The Orientation was created on the university LMS (Blackboard). The sections of the orientation are as follows:

  • Start Here
  • Technology (Hardware/Software)
  • Student Expectations
  • How to Succeed
  • Navigating Course Areas (LMS)
  • Assignments and Grades
  • Quizzes and Tests
  • Discussion Boards
  • Presentation Tools
  • Group Work
  • Academic Resources
  • Student Supports

Students enrolled in online classes are automatically also enrolled in the Online Course Orientation and remain enrolled for the duration of their online course. The orientation is presented in short steps, requiring the students to click "Mark Reviewed" to move on. It was designed this way so as not to overwhelm the students, thereby diminishing the likelihood that they would participate in it from the beginning. The technology tool categories are available at all times, however, so that students can visit those areas to learn or refresh on a technology (ex. VoiceThread) that is being used in their online course.

Video Overview of the Online Course Orientation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPOoWHuZSxQ

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Online Course orientation has been access by 6712 out of 9040 students (74%) and the average time spent per user is 1.87 hours. The total hours spent by students in the orientation is 12558.73 (as of 7/15/14).

As a better measure of effectiveness, there is a short, 4-question survey at the end of the orientation with the following questions:

  1. What concepts did you learn from the orientation?
  2. What would you change or add?
  3. Did you encounter any navigational or technological issues? If so, what?
  4. Would you recommend this orientation to other students?
    • Yes
    • Yes, with the following improvements (text box)
    • No

The results of the survey have been excellent. There have been 537 respondents to the survey so far, and of those, 93% said they would recommend the online course orientation to other students.

Additionally, many faculty have been pleased that they can redirect some student questions about technology to the Online Course Orientation instead of trying to answer them individually.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning Effectiveness:
The Online Course Orientation(OCO) prepares students for how taking a course in an online format might require different skills and pre-constructed knowledge than a traditional course, thus providing more time for them to set up scaffolds to be successful (set up a calendar, review professional communication habits, self-reflect on past team experiences). Additionally, the technology portion "primes the pump" for the types of tools they may encounter and because the tutorials are always available, faculty can direct students to revisit the training for a tool(s) that might be used in their course.


Scale:
The OCO is built in the Learning Management System already used at the university. Students are automatically enrolled (by a programming script) and the course has no limit to the number of seats. It also requires little maintenance from year to year.


Faculty Satisfaction:
Faculty anecdotally report that they are happy to not have to continually troubleshoot educational technology issues for students and that largely, they can simply point students to the tutorial videos in the OCO to help the students refresh on the technology.
Student Satisfaction:
The How to Succeed and Student Expectations sections really help students self-identify as to whether an online course is right for them. It also helps them prepare for an upcoming online course and since it is available 24/7, it can serve as a way for them to self-solve technology problems when a staff person is unavailable.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

LMS - free if enterprise at university
Computer - cost varies
Screenrecording software (Screencast-O-Matic, Camtasia, Kaltura, Panopto, etc.) - free to $99 depending on product used or if enterprise solution is available at university
ThingLink (image annotation software) - free
USB headset microphone - $40
Image editor - free options available

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

--Time of salaried employee to create orientation
--Computer (assumed to be provided to employee
--$150-$500 in technology hardware/software to create effective screen recording

References, supporting documents: 

Angelino, L. M., Williams, F. K., & Natvig, D. (2007). Strategies to Engage Online Students and Reduce Attrition Rates. Journal of Educators Online, 4(2), n2.

Harrell, I. L. (2008). Increasing the Success of Online Students. Inquiry, 13(1), 36-44.

Lloyd, S. A., Byrne, M. M., & McCoy, T. S. (2012). Faculty-perceived barriers of online education. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(1).

Ludwig-hardman, S., & Dunlap, J. (2003). Learner Support Services for Online Students: Scaffolding for success. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 4(1). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/131

Roper, A. R. (2007). How students develop online learning skills. Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 62.

Wilson, M. (2008). An investigation into the perceptions of first-time online undergraduate learners on orientation events. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 4(1), 73-83.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dylan Herx
Email this contact: 
herxd@umsl.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Daren Curry
Email contact 2: 
curryd@umsl.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Matthew A. Eichler
Author(s): 
Joshua Book
Author(s): 
Debbie Thorne
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Texas State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Texas State University utilizes a faculty self-certification process as one process to insure quality distance coursework that meets or exceeds regulatory, accreditation, policy, and best practice guidelines. In the past, a narrative form was used, which required faculty members who taught a distance course to write lengthy descriptions of various aspects of the course management, contents, and process of teaching. Recently, a newer form was introduced which is checklist oriented, simplifying the process of responding to the self-certification process, which was found to improve communication and compliance with the process among faculty members. A satisfaction survey was implemented among those who had completed the first round of the new self-certification checklist to collect faculty perceptions. This processes is implemented by the Office of Distance and Extended Learning, a division of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The "Best Practice Checklist" was implemented in Summer 2014. Prior to this time the "Principles of Effective Practice" document was used to as part of a self-certification process for distance courses at the university. Any distance class must be self-certified the first time it is taught by an instructor or after three years since the last self-certification by that instructor. Given our decentralized control of distance education courses at a large public university, a friendly self-certification process is used to assure quality and compliance with policy, accreditation guidelines, regulatory guidelines, and effective online teaching.

This change was driven by the Distance and Extended Learning Steering Committee, a committee comprised mainly of faculty, but also including librarians, several administrators, and staff. The committee had shared a variety of anecdotal feedback on the previous reporting form related to the repetition of questions, the inability of faculty to answer some questions, particularly those related to budgeting, and the need to rewrite lengthy responses for each class (when faculty probably utilized similar teaching methodology and tools in most of their classes). Staff from the Office of Distance and Extended Learning drafted a Best Practices Checklist - cross referencing regulatory, accreditation, policy and best practice issues to simplify the document, allow faculty to explain responses if needed, and to improve compliance with faculty completing these self-checks. We surveyed faculty after the first round of form collection and believe the results are positive.

In practice, the collection of self-study documentation had not been a high priority, but was recently brought forward as an important step in documenting quality and compliance for our five-year accreditation review which is upcoming. Now, these forms are collected at the beginning of the term when a course is started or needs to re-certify and kept in a database system, where they can be retrieved easily. We see the forms as both a way to document classes meet expectations and to communicate with faculty who are dispersed (not reporting for supervision purposes to the Office of Distance and Extended Learning) about these expectations. Additionally, not all faculty who teach distance courses work in departments where distance courses are well-established or where a chair or director has a strong background in distance learning. The checklists help communicate and collect the information needed about the courses.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Although we are in the midst of collection of the first term of collecting the new Best Practices Checklist, we are able to see a quicker return rate from instructors. Additionally, a group of instructors who completed the BPC have been surveyed about their use of the BPC. We have attached the results of that survey and do note that instructors report more positive results with the BPC as opposed to the PGP. In general, instructors report that it helps them see the big picture and understand how ti improve the course, their teaching, and regulatory requirements. Because a checklist is much easier to assess, administratively less time is spent on each checklist as it is submitted to the office.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

This practice relates to the pillars of scale (cost effectiveness and commitment) and faculty satisfaction. Because of the inherent qualities of a checklist over a narrative document, we are able to process these faster, which is needed as we increase number of distance courses at our institution. In addition, this demonstrates a commitment to effective process improvement for implementing the self-certification program at Texas State. Because of the decentralized nature of distance learning at Texas State, maintaining faculty communications and satisfaction with our processes becomes especially important to continue to have good relationships with faculty who are dispersed among our academic departments at the university. We see this process improvement as being able to improve our relationships with faculty, who are better able to complete this checklist and understand compliance issues related to distance learning.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The checklist is generated on Adobe Acrobat as a form, which is signed by the instructor electronically and completed - although we also allow instructors to print and scan or send to us by mail or in person if they have difficulties using the form. One instructor has opted to complete by hand and scan to us so far. We collect these and keep in a networked file system and also have a spreadsheet to keep track of returns.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Staff time - especially since we have largely done away with paper based forms through this new BPC. A similar amount of staff time is used with the BPC as the older Principles of Best Practice Document Narrative.

References, supporting documents: 

Best Practices Checklist http://goo.gl/lQlS51
Principles of Good Practice Reporting Form (old form that was replaced) http://goo.gl/wZZ8C4
Information on Process http://www.distancelearning.txstate.edu/faculty/Best-Practices.html

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Matthew Eichler
Email this contact: 
me21@txstate.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Joshua Book
Email contact 2: 
jb93@txstate.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Debbie Thorne
Email contact 3: 
debbiethorne@txstate.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Bevin Clare
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Maryland University of Integrative Health
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

A peer-case-based learning course was converted to serve a blended learning clinical program. The course objectives drive a peer-to-peer learning experience with faculty serving as “guides” in the process rather than the experts. This delivery emphasizes the impact of student generated ideas and critical thinking and minimizes the common focus that there is a “right” way to approach individualized client care. Peer-led experiences are the focus of this course and the subsequent learning environment is intended to serve both students and faculty.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

A peer-to-peer-case-based learning course was converted to serve a blended learning clinical program. The conversion of the program containing a team – taught case-based learning class was conducted between 2013 – 2014. Prior to conversion, this on-campus case-based learning course was offered for close to a decade with minimal adaptation. Upon conversion of our clinical program to a blended program, this course underwent significant alteration with contribution from previous faculty and students involved in this course.

The course was held online as student clinicians were also onsite for their clinical internships. It was held as a 12 week course with eight faculty offering specific weeks. In each week a detailed biomedical case was provided by the faculty member and a “lead-student” was assigned. The lead student would review the case prior to the start of each week and assign a detailed question about the case to each of her peers. By the middle of each week, each student will post a thorough response using adequate biomedical references to the forum as well as a response to a peer’s posting. In practice, the forums were busy areas of conversation more than the expected singular response.

Concurrently, in a separate forum, the lead student would also post their perceived assessment of the case as well as their clinical care goals (both long and short term). Each non-lead student would then post their own, highly specific, recommendations for the client including dietary, lifestyle, and therapeutic medicinal prescriptions. Peer critique and response posting was also required.

Faculty contributed to both forums, moderating the biomedical question responses and adding to, or correcting if needed, the student responses. They also commented on the goals and the plans and ultimately contributed their own strategies to the mix.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Please see the attached supportive documentation for evidence as well as the following summary.

Overview
The conversion of the program containing a team – taught case-based learning class was conducted between 2013 – 2014. Prior to conversion, this on-campus case-based learning course was offered for close to a decade with minimal adaptation. Upon conversion of our clinical program to a blended program, this course underwent significant alteration with contribution from previous faculty and students involved in this course.
A survey of the students in their newly designed course was conducted, as was a survey of the faculty team (many new to any type of alternative delivery) who were able to compare (from their perspective) the new adaptation to the old format.

Student Survey Results
Nine of the twelve students participating in this course responded to the survey. Overall, all students reported learning “Significantly” or “Immensely” from 1) their peers, 2) In their own research, and 3) Writing answers to the peer-generated questions. No students reported learning “Minimally” or “Nothing” in any of the categories listed, although two students reported learning only “Somewhat” from the faculty (as a peer driven course this is partially expected and is consistent with previous feedback).
Being assigned a question from their peers was rated as an effective way to learn by 100% of the responders, and the assigning the questions to their peers was seen as an effective way to learn by 89% of them. Central to peer –based learning, 95% of students reported reading all or most of their peers submissions in all categories.
Overall, 100% of the students felt this was an “effective way to explore case studies”.

Faculty Survey
Six faculty who team-teach this course were surveyed on their perception of the course, often in relation to their prior experience with the F2F version. All faculty had previous taught in this course, generally for many years. For many of them, it was their first experience with alternative methods of delivery.

All faculty agreed that students were learning “Immensely” or “Significantly” from 1) their peers, 2) in their own research and 3) by writing their goals and plans. Answering peer-based questions was more controversial from faculty perception (although not from student perception).

Faculty were also surveyed about their own learning in the course and 100% of them reported that they themselves learned from the answers students reported to the peer-generated questions. More than half of them also reported learning from the questions from students, the goals and plans, and from their own research and preparation.
In the direct comparison of the online and F2F versions of the course, faculty overwhelmingly reported that he online version of this course was similar or better for all categories (except student engagement which was scored, on average, similar to the in class environment) particularly for biomedical understanding and peer-to-peer learning.

Overall, 100% of faculty felt that this was an effective way to explore case studies and 83% of them felt this was an overall “improved educational experience over the F2F version”.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

This practice relates to pillars in three areas.

Most importantly, the learning effectiveness of the peer-to-peer case based learning was critical. In comparison to the F2F environment students were more equally engaged and given adequate time to bring in significant outside resources. In the surveys conducted, students and faculty overwhelmingly reported high scored in learning effectiveness.

Faculty satisfaction in this was was reflected by the surprisingly high number of faculty reporting significant learning beyond their more standard preparation for the course. In the survey, 100% of faculty reported they learned from the replies to the peer-generated questions.

Lastly, student satisfaction was significant to this course, with 100% of students feeling this was an effective way to engage in case-based peer-to-peer learning.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

An LMS or comparable online discussion forum.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

N/A

References, supporting documents: 

Please see the attached document for their student and faculty surveys.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Bevin Clare
Email this contact: 
bclare@muih.edu
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Brichaya Shah
Author(s): 
David E. Stone
Author(s): 
Derrick Sterling
Author(s): 
Kathryn C. Morgan
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Instructional Design Unit: Office of Faculty Support and Development
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Southern Polytechnic State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The Teaching Academy for Distance Learning (TADL) was created to provide faculty with a formal certification process. This process also helps faculty develop quality online courses. The program format was initially a 47-hour, 3-part training course for Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) faculty. This program began in the fall 2008 and mostly focused on technology tools and their use in instruction. As part of an ongoing quality improvement process, TADL has continued to enhance the online learning capabilities at SPSU.

The program’s dependency on a particular software has decreased as the program has evolved. The Instructional Design Unit (IDU) has worked with faculty in the development of online courses across academic disciplines. Their balance between pedagogy and technology allows minimal changes in the program format as new technologies emerge. Key to the program is the team-based approach. This approach brings in expertise from instructional design, instructional technology, as well as digital media.

The TADL program is housed within the faculty-driven Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). The CTE has explored a broad range of teaching and learning activities. It has built strong relationships across campus. Faculty value the CTE and their partnership helps validate the activities of the Teaching Academy for Distance Learning.

TADL evolved from a single face-to-face only program into three versions: face-to-face, online, and blended formats. Within the program, faculty from across campus are brought together to build online courses as well as discuss issues related to online learning. This has created a community of practice around online learning. This community supports informal learning networks within the institution and has allowed for growth in online learning.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

TADL is not just a faculty development program. It is a truly hands-on program that allows faculty to learn new skills and acquire knowledge to design, develop, and deliver quality online courses at SPSU. Some of the components of this course include: weekly meetings (face-to-face or online), multimedia-rich learning modules, and interactive learning objects that address different learning styles. This course also includes assignments that allow faculty to apply their newly acquired skills. While completing the course, participants in TADL have full access to a diverse team of instructional designers, digital media specialists, and an instructional technology specialist.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Upon completion of TADL, all of the newly developed courses were sent out for external review. These reviews were completed by instructional design professionals working in the field. This process resulted in a 100% pass rate for the 5 years that TADL has been offered. As the program matured, it went from an informal process to a more formal review of the course objectives, modular objectives, and course alignment. This review includes a Subject Matter Expert reviewer from each participants’ department.

Course components are developed during the TADL program and feedback is given to participants as they progress. This continuous review, in combination with the external review of the developed courses, provides multiple opportunities for feedback.

TADL was developed for several reasons. First, single workshops and short term training sessions were not valued as significant professional development for faculty. Second, there was a demand for a more in-depth exploration of online learning and course development. Since developing TADL, this program has become recognized and supported by several deans and department chairs who insist that new hires go through this program. They also insist that the department adopt some of the practices that TADL instills in its participants.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

The TADL instructors’ practice aligns with the pillars of “Faculty Satisfaction”, “Learning Effectiveness”, and “Scale”. Faculty are empowered by the TADL experience and develop a support network with their peers. This allows for continuing discussion and learning outside of TADL. TADL is now offered in multiple formats (Hybrid, Fully-Online Instructor-led, and Self-Paced) to accommodate faculty schedules and learning preferences. Many of the resources for TADL are re-used between formats. As a result of the TADL experience, some departments have developed standard templates for their courses that have unified the student experience throughout their academic program. SPSU instructors exhibit learning effectiveness because after the successful completion of TADL, participants can continue to develop quality online courses that constantly improve based on the available technologies.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Many of the resources necessary to build this program would already exist at most institutions. We have made use of a classroom equipped with computer stations and common university software. Infrastructure required includes the learning management system, as well as a desktop/web conferencing solution.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

We provide a small stipend ($1,000) for TADL participation and departments often pay the faculty for the development of the course built as part of TADL, with the amount at the department’s discretion. This amount is often roughly the amount adjunct faculty are paid to teach courses.

References, supporting documents: 

An extensive description of the program, along with videos and TADL materials are available online at:
http://spsu.edu/instructionaldesignsupport/TADL/index.htm

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Brichaya Shah
Email this contact: 
bshah@spsu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Kathryn C. Morgan
Email contact 2: 
kmorgan@spsu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
David E. Stone
Email contact 3: 
dstone@psu.edu
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Wendy Cowan
Author(s): 
Mark Gale
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Athens State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Research in online student retention suggests that both time and relationships play a critical role in student persistence. Providing courses online does address convenience as it relates to student time constraints, but once inside the online classroom, it’s imperative that instructors find creative ways to deliver instruction that leads to student engagement. Students become more engaged when relationships are formed – with both the instructor and peers. Virtual classroom sessions, while seeming to be one solution for forming relationships, conflict with the convenience of taking an online class. To counteract this inconvenience, instructors teaching online and blended sections of the same course decided to create a learning community that offered multiple times and dates for virtual class sessions. The results have led to increased satisfaction and engagement for both students and faculty.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Across universities, each semester there are some courses that are offered and taught by multiple instructors. For example, English 101 could possibly be offered in the schedule across 10, 20 and even more sections. Some of these sections are offered in online format.
In the Athens State College of Education, we offer three courses that are taken by all College of Education majors – Foundations of Education I, Foundations of Education II and Technology and Media for Educators. Each semester we offer at least 10+ sections of each of these courses, with over half of them offered in a blended or online format.
In an effort to help establish positive relationships in these online courses, we implemented weekly virtual classroom sessions, which isn’t a new idea. But because we have multiple instructors teaching sections of the same course, we went a step further and created a community calendar where each instructor posts the date, time, topic and entry URL to his/her virtual classroom sessions (See supporting documents). Instructors are encouraged to schedule their sessions at different times/days throughout each week so that students have many options for attending live sessions.
Instructors conduct virtual sessions at the scheduled time/date weekly and record the session. Archived sessions are made available inside courses for students who are unable to attend the live sessions. Upon completion of each session, instructors ask for the names of any “visiting” students. Visiting student’s names are then sent to the other instructors so that students are given credit for attendance.
Inside each course, students are provided with a link to the community calendar and are informed that they may attend any session(s) offered. Students who were unable to attend are required to watch and summarize archived sessions.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

While the initial goal was to improve relationships within the course, the results have far exceeded our imaginings. Students reported that they not only appreciate the availability of the live sessions, but have also stated that the sessions help them feel like they are in a “real classroom.” Students have also reported that they appreciate the ability to choose session times/dates that best meet their needs. This evidence of effectiveness was expected (See supporting documents).
Evidence of effectiveness that was not anticipated is the instructor’s perceptions of teaching and learning effectiveness and overall satisfaction. Prior to initiating the across-section virtual classroom sessions, instructors completed a pretest measuring faculty satisfaction. Upon completion of the first semester of implementation instructors completed the posttest. A review of the data indicates that faculty are more satisfied with their role in the course following the semester of weekly virtual classroom sessions (See supporting documents).

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning effectiveness: Instructors felt more empowered as a result of this effective practice. Data suggests that instructors perceived an increased contribution to student learning. One hundred percent of instructors surveyed felt that students had a valuable learning experience due to the instructor’s role in the class. When comparing the amount of content able to be taught between an online/blended course and a traditional course, most instructors (73%) reported that they could now teach the same or more content. Seventy six percent of the instructors reported that they were more satisfied with their online/blended course the semester following the virtual classroom implementation. Instructors (85.7%) believed that the virtual classroom sessions improved student success (See supporting documents).
Faculty satisfaction: Posttest data from the virtual classroom implementation suggests that faculty are pleased with teaching online/blended courses. On the pretest survey 86.7% of instructors reported that they were very satisfied teaching an online/blended course. Following the virtual classroom sessions implementation 76.9% of instructors reported being more satisfied than they were the previous semester. Considering that that most instructors had already reported being very satisfied, this is a very indicative finding regarding faculty satisfaction (See supporting documents).
Student satisfaction: Student surveys indicate that students are satisfied with the availability of the virtual classroom sessions. Approximately 55% of students reported that the virtual classroom sessions were beneficial (See supporting document).

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The equipment we used to implement this effective practice was Blackboard Collaborate and Blackboard Wimba, which are virtual classroom platforms. Google Docs was used for the community calendars.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

While neither Wimba nor Collaborate are free, there are other virtual classroom options that are free and low cost. For example, Google Hangouts could be used for virtual classroom sessions.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Wendy Cowan
Email this contact: 
wendy.cowan@athens.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Mark Gale
Email contact 2: 
Mark.Gale@athens.edu
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Rick Lumadue, PhD
Author(s): 
Rusty Waller, PhD
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Programmatic student-learning outcomes of an online master’s degree program at a regional University in Texas were assessed in this study. An innovative use of emerging technology provided a platform for this study. The Astin Model provided the framework for the evaluation. This study has provided a model for conducting well-informed, instructional and programmatic assessments of student-learning outcomes. The results of this study demonstrated that emerging technology can provide a platform for students to both showcase and preserve their ability to meet programmatic student-learning outcomes.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

This online master’s degree program is taught using a fully interactive online format in a primarily asynchronous delivery model. Asynchronous activities used in the program included: threaded discussion, video and audio presentations, written lecture linked to video and audio presentations embedded into the course management system, Voicethreads, faculty developed MERLOT web pages created using the MERLOT Content Builder, e-Textbooks, etc.
The Astin Model (1993) provided a framework for this assessment. In the Astin Model, quality education not only reaches established benchmarks but also is founded upon the ability to transition students from where they are to reach intended competencies. An innovative use of MERLOT Content Builder combined with emerging technology provided a means for assessing the seven student-learning outcomes in an online master’s program at a regional university in Texas.
Two full-time faculty and one adjunct faculty used rubrics to evaluate each of the programmatic student-learning outcomes by assessing a random sample of student assignments from courses.
The goal of this study was to help students reach the intended learning outcomes for metacognition, digital fluency, communication, cultural fluency, global fluency, servant leadership, and commitment to life-long learning. Definitions of these learning outcomes are provided here. Students will evidence metacognition by demonstrating the knowledge and skills for designing, developing, and evaluating personal strategies for learning and leading. Students will evidence digital fluency in the adoption and integration of appropriate technologies into digital presentations. Students will be able to communicate ideas and content to actively engage participants. Students will evidence understanding of generational and cultural learning styles. Students will develop instructional materials appropriate for a global perspective. Students will practice the principles of servant leadership as espoused by Robert Greenleaf in his work titled, The Leader as Servant (1984). According to Greenleaf, “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. Students will evidence a commitment to lifelong learning in the production and evaluation of learning materials.
Digital education presents many challenges. Barnett-Queen, Blair, and Merrick (2005) identified perceived strengths and weaknesses of online discussion groups and subsequent instructional activities. Programmatic assessment is required for all institutions accredited by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education. Walvoord (2003) indicated that good assessment should focus on maximizing student performance. The following questions rise to the forefront: (1) Have graduates mastered programmatic expectations; (2) What relationships exist between student performance and other factors; and (3) How can faculty improve the program based upon the analysis of student performance. Walvoord further stresses the importance of direct assessment in determining student performance. Indirect measures may provide evidence of student-learning, but direct assessment is widely viewed as more valid and reliable.
Brandon, Young, Shavelson, Jones, Ayala, Ruiz-Primo, and Yin (2008) developed a model for embedded formative assessment. The model was collaborative and stressed embedded assessment. Their study stressed the difficulties associated with broad-based collaboration given the difficulties of formally identifying partners and spanning large geographic distances. Price and Randall (2008) demonstrated the importance of embedded direct assessment in lieu of indirect assessment. Their research revealed a lack of correlational fit between indirect and direct assessment of the same aspect of student-learning with the same course in a pre- and post-test design. They documented a difference between student perceived knowledge and actual knowledge. These findings further underscore the importance of direct assessment of student-learning. Walvoord’s (2003) findings further indicated the need for embedded direct assessment of student-learning owned and supported by those who will implement the change. Those implementing change would include program faculty and students.
Gardner (2007) found that education has long wrestled with defining and assessing life-long learning. Though loosely defined as the continued educational growth of the individual, lifelong learning is rapidly rising to the forefront of 21st century education to assume a more prominent place than that held in the 20th century. Brooner (2002) described the difficulty of assessing the intention to pursue learning beyond the completion of a program. Intention and subsequent performance are affected by many different factors including, but not limited to, normative beliefs and motivation. Educational programs have often been encouraged to avoid assessment of behavior beyond the point of graduation as such behavior as been viewed as beyond the control of program educators (Walvoord, 2003). The question arises as to the importance of future behavior as an indicator of current learning.
Astin (1993) pointed out that educators are inclined to avoid assessment of the affective domain viewing such as too value laden. Accordingly, the cognitive domain became the defacto assessment area though affective assessment more closely paralleled the stated aims and goals of most institutions of higher education. The avoidance of assessment in the affective domain is well documented by Astin. The advent of social media tools coupled with e-portfolios offers some intriguing possibilities in regard to assessment in the affective behavioral domain. Astin pointed out that a change in the affective domain should translate into changed behavior.
Secolsky and Wentland (2010) found many advantages to portfolio assessment that transcend regular assessment practices by providing a glimpse into non-structured behavioral activities. Behavior beyond the classroom can be captured and documented within a properly designed portfolio. Behavior that has not been directly observed by the teacher can be measured in light of portfolio submissions via a broad collection of relevant and targeted information. Established performance criterion can be assessed to measure student-learning and determine specific areas for programmatic improvement. Though Secolsky and Wentland point out that reliability and validity concerns still exist with portfolio measurement, they concur that portfolio assessment potentially gauges authentic student performance outside the educational environment. With the development of a portfolio transportable beyond program enrollment and across the life experience the opportunity exists to assess the impact of the instructional experience upon real time student performance. Evaluation of life-long portfolios promises to provide meaningful insight into the real life impact of the educational experience. Astin (1993) viewed changed behavior over time as the real evidence of affective enlightenment.
An interesting finding from this study was the creative manner in which some of the students layered or nested other web 2.0 technologies into their MERLOT web pages. Examples of layering or nesting included embedded student developed Voicethread presentations, embedded open-ended discussion Voicethreads used to promote participation and feedback, embedded YouTube Videos, embedded Prezis and the like.
The integration of MERLOT GRAPE Camp peer review training into this Master Degree Program has provided an additional platform for further research to be conducted relative to the assessment of all seven of the programmatic learning outcomes of the program. For example, metacognition may be assessed as it relates to MERLOT’S peer-reviewers serving as content expert in assessing materials that pertain to one’s field. Communication may be assessed through interaction with peers and peer-reviews. Digital fluency is obviously what is required to contribute to MERLOT. Cultural Fluency may be demonstrated through peer reviewing submissions of MERLOT’s international community of partners. Global Fluency may be measured through the development and contribution of appropriate content for use in a global community of learners. Servant Leadership is the motto of MERLOT, “Give a Gift not a Burden!” (Gerry Hanley, 2010). Finally, the development of students into lifelong learners will help to establish the identity of the program. Student performance outside of the program is one of the best measures of student-learning and the MERLOT Content Builder along with MERLOT peer-reviews is a tremendous platform for measuring student-learning outcomes.
Life long learning may be assessed by current and former students’ contributions of materials to MERLOT and by those providing peer reviews of materials contributed to MERLOT. As a benefit of being a MERLOT partner, the dashboard report provides information on contributions made by members of the partner organization. Contributions and/or peer reviews completed by students who have graduated from the program will be recorded in the dashboard report. This is a tremendous tool to measure the commitment to life long learning. Ultimately, this study has demonstrated that the MERLOT platform combined with emerging technology are integral in assessing student-learning outcomes in an online master’s program at a regional University in Texas. Other online degree programs should seriously consider the MERLOT Content Builder’s potential to help them assess student-learning outcomes.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Online Master of Science in Global eLearning equips specialists in education for practice in public education, private education, business, industry, and non-profit organizations. Learning and technology are intertwined as we develop the next generation of enhanced training, development, and teaching to engage learners with key components of instructional technology. Technology provides access to all forms of education and this program will teach educators how to implement technology across curricula and classrooms of all kinds. With a blend of theory and technical skills, this program will prepare teachers and corporate trainers alike.

Metacognition – Students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills for designing, developing, and evaluating personal strategies for learning and leading.
5 journal entries will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Metacognition rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 4.0 or higher on a 5 point scale in each of the areas of context & meaning, personal response, personal reflection, and interpretive skills.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Context & Meaning 4.27
Personal Response 4.13
Personal Reflection 4.40
Interpretive Skills 4.47

All standards were met.
Though all standards were met, the faculty noted that the personal response section scored the lowest at 4.13. Accordingly the course, EDUC 595 Research Methodology, was expanded to include more opportunities for students to provide self and peer-evaluation feedback on projects and assignments. Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014. We will assess one course in the Fall and one course in the Spring.

Communication – Students will communicate ideas and content to actively engage participants.
5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Assessment of Digital Student Presentation Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 42 on a 50 point scale in each of the five areas of purpose, organization, content, language, and voice & tone. The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Purpose 45.33
Organization 46.67
Content 46.00
Language 44.00
Voice & Tone 44.67
Technology 45.33

All standards were met. Though, all standards were met Faculty noted that Language scored the lowest. The faculty decided to conduct two assessments for the next cycle. One will be done in the fall and one in the spring.

The faculty modified an assignment in EDUC 515 Intercultural Education to provide students an opportunity to develop their language skills on a project to provided heightened sensitivity to language that might be offensive in other cultures.

Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014.

Digital Fluency - Students will evidence digital fluency in the adoption and integration of appropriate technologies into digital presentations.
5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Assessment of Digital Student Presentation Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 45 on a 50 point scale in the area of technology.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Technology 45.33

The standard was met.
The faculty noted that the students tended to use more familiar software and avoid the utilization of emerging software. Accordingly, EDUC 510 Utilizing Effective Instructional Technology was modified to include requirements for the utilization of at least one Web 2.0 software program to complete an assignment.

The faculty will conduct two evaluations in AY 2013-2014.

Cultural Fluency – Students will evidence understanding of generational and cultural learning styles.

5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Cultural Fluency Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 3.0 on a 4 point scale in the areas of knowledge & comprehension, analysis & synthesis, and evaluation.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Knowledge & Comprehension 3.53
Analysis & Synthesis 3.07
Evaluation 3.67

The standard was met. The faculty noted that analysis and synthesis scored lowest. Accordingly the curriculum for EDUC 552 Global Fluency was expanded to include group projects on the education system of other cultures.

The faculty will also conduct two evaluations in AY 2013-2014.

Global Fluency – Students will develop instructional materials appropriate for a global perspective.

5 group project entries will be selected at random from a course offered in Summer 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Global Fluency Rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 2.8 or higher on a 4 point scale in each of the areas of knowledge & comprehension, application, and evaluation.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Knowledge & Comprehension 2.87
Application 3.00
Evaluation 2.87

The standards were met.

Faculty found student performance in this area to be adequate. Some challenges were noted in the use of stereotypes in identifying people from other cultures. For example, a student made a comment on. EDUC 515 Intercultural Education will be expanded to include a project in which students will interview someone from a different culture to discover differing worldviews of other cultures and share these findings in a forum with classmates.

Servant Leadership – Students will practice the principles of servant leadership as espoused by Robert Greenleaf.

5 student group project self-assessment packets will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Servant Leadership Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 40 on a 50 point scale in each of the five areas of purpose, organization, content, language, and voice & tone.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Servant Leadership 41.33
Strategic Insight & Agility 39.33
Building Effective Teams & Communities 44.00
Ethical Formation & Decision Making 43.33

The standard was NOT met for Strategic Insight & Agility.

Faculty noted problems in the effective feedback of peer-evaluation assignment. Accordingly, the group peer assessment process has been expanded to include MERLOT GRAPE Camp to provide training on conducting peer-evaluations. All students will be required to complete MERLOT GRAPE Camp training. These changes will be enacted in all new course sections.

Commitment to Life-Long Learning – Students will evidence a commitment to lifelong learning in the production and evaluation of learning materials. 5 portfolio entries will be selected at random from a course in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Commitment to Life-long Learning rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 3.0 or higher on a 4 point scale in each of the areas of production of educational materials, publications, presentations, including personal response, personal evaluation, and interpretive skills.
The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

MERLOT Web Pages 3.4
Presentations 3.8
Peer Evaluations 3.60

The standard was met. Though, all standards were met Faculty noted that MERLOT Web pages scored the lowest. The faculty decided to conduct two assessments for the next cycle. One will be done in the fall and one in the spring.

The faculty modified an assignment in EDUC 528 Intro. to Presentation Design to make the MERLOT Web page a requirement rather than an option

Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

1) Leveraging MERLOT Content Builder with emerging technology to assess programmatic student learning outcomes is scalable because it encourages more online instructors and instructional designers to consider integrating this model to measure the effectiveness of assignments in meeting the goals for Institutional effectiveness planning.

2) Increases access by providing open access using MERLOT’S Content Builder combined with emerging technology to showcase learning outcomes for students and faculty to assess regardless of location as long as they have an internet connection.

3) Improves faculty satisfaction by providing faculty with open access to evaluate student assignments to assess programmatic student learning outcomes for Institutional effectiveness planning.
Since this model was used to complete a recent Institutional Effectiveness Plan for an online master’s degree program in preparation for a regional accreditation visit other instructors can easily replicate this model to evaluate their programs.

4) Improves learning effectiveness by providing instructors with effective online strategies that are supported by empirical data from assessments of random samples of student assignments .

5) Promotes student satisfaction by providing valuable opportunities for interaction with their instructor and other students. Students work together on group projects for both synchronous and asynchronous presentations. Students are also assigned group and individual projects to evaluate the work of their peers and provide feedback. Rubrics are embedded in the grade book of the LMS to evaluate student assignments. Also, an evaluation tool of the programmatic student-learning outcome that is tied to the assignment is also included in the grade book to assess the level of student understanding. Students regularly comment about how valuable these practices are to their learning experience.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The only aspect completely necessary is an internet connection and an LMS. In our program, the students also used Camtasia, Quicktime and Captivate for creating videos to complete some of their individual projects. Group projects were completed using Google+ Hangouts, Skype, Voice Thread and Adobe Connect. Students also created MERLOT web pages, MDL 2 Courses and digital portfolios.

Some of the tools we used have costs associated with them. Here is a list of some them:

• Synchronous tools: Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Google chats, Skype
• Asynchronous tools: Voicethread, MERLOT Content Builder, Prezi, MERLOT GRAPE Camp, Peer Review Workshop and Discussion Forums in LMS
• Reflective tools: Journals, self-assessments, and digital portfolios

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The only additional cost would be optional and would involve the use of some emerging technologies that are not open source. All other resources used in this project were open source and we did not incur additional costs using them. There was essentially no budget for this project.

References, supporting documents: 

Astin, A. (1993). Assessment for Excellence. Wesport, CT: Oryx Press.

Barnett-Queen, T., Blair, R., & Merrick, M. (2005). Student perspectives of online discussions: Strengths and weaknesses. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 23(3/4), 229-244.

Brandon, P., Young, D., Shavelson, R., Jones, R. Ayala, C., Ruiz-Primo, M., & Yin, Y. (2008). Lessons learned from the process of curriculum developers’ and assessment developers’ collaboration on the development of embedded formative assessments. Applied Measurement in Education, 21, 390-402.

Gardner, P. (2007). The ‘life-long draught’: From learning to teaching and back. History of Education, 36(4-5), 465-482.

Greenleaf, R. A. (2008). The Servant as Leader. Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Price, B., & Randall, C. (2008). Assessing learning outcomes in quantitative courses: Using embedded questions for direct assessment. Journal of Education for Business, 83(5), 288-294.

Secolsky, C., & Wentland, E. (2010). Differential effect of topic: Implications for portfolio assessment. Assessment Update, 22(1), Wilmington, DE: Wiley Periodicals.

Walvoord, B. (2003). Assessment in accelerated programs: A practical guide. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 97, 39-50.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Rick Lumadue
Email this contact: 
proflumadue@gmail.com
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Rusty Waller
Email contact 2: 
rusty.waller@tamuc.edu
Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Kelvin Thompson, Ed.D.
Author(s): 
Baiyun Chen, Ph.D.
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Central Florida
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The faculty development programs, instructional designers, and individual teaching faculty of the University of Central Florida have found affordances in integrating into their work the online teaching practices codified in the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR). The faculty development programs, instructional designers, and individual teaching faculty of other institutions can just as readily benefit from integrating TOPR entries into their work as enhancements to existing faculty development strategies. TOPR is freely available online under the terms of a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 unported license at http://topr.online.ucf.edu.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country, currently ranked as the second-largest public institution in the US with approximately 60,000 students. To meet students’ needs, over 30% of the university's student credit hours are generated by online and blended courses and nearly three-fourths of all UCF students take one or more online courses every year. As a result, the need for faculty development for online teaching has been increasing in recent years. The Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) at UCF provides a variety of faculty development offerings to meet these needs, including semester-long training programs, webinars, individual instructional design consultations, self-directed learning objects and others. It is a challenge to keep the professional development materials updated and streamlined. Further, as the number of individual faculty teaching online and blended courses at UCF and the associated number of instructional designers serving them has grown, it has been challenging to identify and disseminate emergent effective teaching practices. One initiative, the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR), is an effort to solve these challenges: http://topr.online.ucf.edu.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) is a public resource for online faculty and instructional designers seeking inspiration from online teaching strategies that have proven successful for others. We at UCF took the learning practices that we endorsed to our faculty member in our professional programs and featured them on TOPR. These strategies get updated by collaborating contributors on a regular basis and we link to these strategies in our faculty development programs. TOPR has also become a handy resource for UCF's instructional designers to use in individual consultations with faculty or email responses. After instructors hear about TOPR, they save the resource as one of their favorite bookmarks and come back to these strategies when they need new ideas for online teaching.

In the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR), each entry describes a strategy drawn from the pedagogical practice of online teaching faculty, depicts this strategy with artifacts from actual courses, and is aligned with findings from research or professional practice literature. Emphasis is placed upon practices that are impactful and replicable. TOPR entries are tagged with relevant keywords to aid discovery of relevant content. Additionally, site visitors may also find entries by searching or by browsing a topical index. The index of published teaching practices from TOPR is available at: http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Pedagogical_Practice.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) is offered within a wiki which makes contribution and collaboration very easy, and all entries are provided as open resources under the terms of a Creative Commons license. Thus, faculty development programs, instructional designers, and faculty from other institutions can readily adopt and adapt TOPR entries for their needs.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Specific entries from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) are linked to from within UCF’s internal faculty development materials (e.g., LMS-based materials for UCF’s award-winning IDL6543 faculty development course) and external resources (e.g., the publicly accessible http://BlendedLearningToolkit.org site presented by UCF and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities). UCF instructional designers report sharing resources from TOPR routinely in consultations with teaching faculty. Anecdotally, some individual instructors have noted consulting TOPR for ideas. However, it is perhaps more telling to look at some of the evidence that has emerged outside of the UCF context.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) was presented to a national audience for the first time at the 2011 Sloan-C ALN Conference. The theoretical underpinning and development background were presented in that presentation and may be reviewed at: http://ofcoursesonline.com/?p=132. Since then, promotion of TOPR has continued, and an editorial board comprised of leaders in online and blended learning from the US and Canada has been formed. (See http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Board.) The following evidence of TOPR use has emerged since that time.

While the exact number of institutions and individual faculty connecting to TOPR is infeasible to determine, it is clear that TOPR is proving useful beyond UCF. For instance, some other institutions include links to TOPR in their online resources. (See http://www.wabashcenter.wabash.edu/resources/teach-web-result.aspx?pid=3..., http://teach.granite.edu/?p=8983, and http://edtech.uvic.ca/edci335/wiki.) The statistic page for one custom url for one TOPR entry reveals that this entry has been accessed hundreds of times from multiple countries. (See https://bitly.com/discussion_rubrics+.) The easily citable TOPR entries have even appeared in research articles (e.g., http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter154/eskey_schulte154.html) and at least one dissertation (i.e., http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/UF/E0/04/43/67/00001/JOHNSON_M.pdf).

As of August 2013, the most popular of the 33 public TOPR entries (e.g., related to discussion rubrics, social networking, and discussion prompts) have each received tens of thousands of page views. (See http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Special:Statistics.)

The evidence above would seem to suggest that the practice of leveraging the online teaching practices codified in TOPR for use in faculty development materials, instructional designer consultations, or individual instructor inquiry is a practice that is both replicable and potentially effective in supporting the Sloan-C pillars.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Integrating practices from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR):
1) Enables scale by allowing more online instructors and instructional designers to learn about effective online strategies.

2) Increases access by providing an open access online compendium for faculty development. Other institutions can link to TOPR in their professional development programs; instructional designers can recommend strategies to instructors with concrete examples; instructors can also use TOPR as a just-in-time resource whenever they need new strategies for their classroom.

3) Improves faculty satisfaction by providing faculty with open access to professional development resources that they can use in their daily classroom teaching. Since each strategy includes a detailed description and artifacts to support how the strategy is used in real classes, instructors can easily replicate these strategies in their own teaching.

4) Improves learning effectiveness by providing instructors with effective online strategies that are supported by literature.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

There are no extraordinary equipment costs associated with this practice. UCF maintains the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR). Contributors offer entries under the terms of a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 unported license. Other institutions, instructional designers, and instructors can use TOPR with computer and internet access.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Costs associated with replicating this practice are negligible and equate to the opportunity costs of one's time in searching for practices of relevance within the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository web site and applying them to one's work.

References, supporting documents: 

See attached and the links included within the evidence section.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Kelvin Thompson, Ed.D.
Email this contact: 
kelvin@ucf.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Baiyun Chen, Ph.D.
Email contact 2: 
baiyun.chen@ucf.edu