Faculty Development From Afar Through a Shared Online Space

Concurrent Session 8

Brief Abstract

With university faculty now often located all over the world, it can be challenging to find ways to connect. This workshop will share how to leverage your university’s existing LMS and technologies to create opportunities for faculty professional development, community building, and inclusion in a shared online space.


Sara has over ten years of teaching, training, and instructional design experience in the online, blended, and face-to-face modalities. This includes two Blackboard Exemplary Course Awards for excellence in instructional design, and extensive experience teaching and working with college students as well as facilitating professional development offerings to faculty. She holds an M.Ed. in Educational Technology and an M.S. in Management and currently works as an instructional designer and adjunct online instructor.

Extended Abstract

                As online education and universities increase in size, scope, and quality, Centers for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) must adapt to be useful and accessible in a virtual educational environment. While faculty teaching on traditional college campuses can visit a physical space, faculty at virtual campuses do not have this option. However, the need for a dedicated space to ask questions, review resources, engage in professional development, and interact with colleagues is still very important. At our university, CTLE was faced with this very challenge. After reviewing all options, CTLE created a course within our learning management system (LMS).

                There is plenty of research to support faculty becoming immersed in learning communities, including an increased chance of achieving tenure (Richlin & Cox, 2011), as well as an increased and/or renewed inspiration and passion for teaching (Cervato et. al, 2015). However, there is very little research on implementing virtual learning communities for faculty. Despite this, research does show providing an online “student” experience for faculty can have a positive impact on their own online teaching (Shattuck & Anderson, 2015). By creating a course within the LMS, there are two benefits: first, CTLE can utilize the many tools and technologies inherent to online courses, including chat, email, discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and web conferencing. Second, faculty must access the LMS to teach their own courses, so the virtual faculty space is in a familiar and frequently used location.

                CTLE began utilizing the LMS to provide more robust virtual professional development offerings in January of 2016. Since then, we have seen a tremendous response from faculty both through qualitative feedback as well as through quantitative feedback obtained through course analytics, with an average of 771 site views each month by our faculty.

As part of our lessons learned, the presenter will share 5 tips:

  1. Create a “just in time” online space.
  2. Provide opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous communication to accommodate a variety of schedules.
  3. Keep adding new reasons to return to the space.
  4. Be strategic with the content you share so it is useful and accurate.
  5. Market the benefits of the space.

After attending the session, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the 5 practical tips shared in the session.
  • Identify resources that could be added to their own virtual shared space.
  • List 2-3 virtual professional development opportunities that could be offered in the virtual shared space at their own institution.

Session Overview:

0:00 – 0:05 Introduction

0:06 – 0:10 Overview of University Online Shared space within LMS

0:11 – 0:15 Small group discussions: Brainstorm resources you could add to your own virtual shared space for faculty to refer to.

0:16 – 0:25 Share discussion results in large discussion

0:26 – 0:30 Presenter will provide overview of synchronous/asynchronous professional development opportunities offered within the shared online space

0:31 – 0:40 Discuss 5 tips for implementation

0:41 – 0:45 Conclusion/Questions


Cervato, C., Gallus Jr., W., Slade, M., Kawaler, S., Marengo, M., Woo, L., … Acerbo, M. (2015). It takes a village to make a scientist: Reflections of a faculty learning        community. Journal of College Science Teaching 44(3). 28-35.
Richlin, L., & Cox, M. (2011). Developing scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning through faculty learning. Building Faculty Learning Communities:   New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 97(15), 127.
Shattuck, J. & Anderson, T. (2013). Using a design-based research study to identify principles for training instructors to teach online. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 14(5), 186-210.