Merging Technology and Pedagogy to Enhance Online Instructor Training

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Are you training your faculty how to teach online? Our redesigned Online Instructor Training course transitions from traditional Blackboard courseware to an e-learning module, which generates more interaction and engagement. The course inspires faculty to explore options to present course content and measure learning outcomes.

 

Presenters

Liying Miao received her M.S. in Instructional Systems from the College of Education at Florida State University. She is an Instructional Development Faculty member at the Office of Distance Learning serving to ensure quality in online education. Her projects involve supporting faculty in designing, developing and delivering their online courses. In addition to serving as a project manager, she provides training for online graduate teaching assistants.

Extended Abstract

Session Outcomes

By the end of the session, the audience will be able to identify our purpose of transitioning to a new e-learning module, compare existing support programs for faculty with ours, give examples of similarities and differences between the two, and consider measures that can help them in their academic setting.

Context and Scope

The Office of Distance Learning manages Blackboard, FSU's online learning management system (LMS), and provides faculty support in designing and developing online courses. In 2014, we developed a training course in Blackboard to support faculty university-wide to teach online. The course covered pedagogical modalities to design an online course or to convert an existing face-to-face course into a course for the online environment. The training involved a structured course with five modules of useful information.

Problem

From 2014 to 2016, we collected survey data to track instructors’ views on this training course. Overall, we have been doing well with the course content, structure, and navigation. The challenges we face include

  • linear LMS design
  • inflexibility of engaging learners
  • limited format of content delivery
  • quiz questions based on memory due to the limitations of LMS assessment tools
  • lack of interaction between content and learner
  • inability of providing immediate feedback

Survey respondents offered the following comments:

“The Quizzes put too much emphasis on memorizing; would be helpful if to actually do the functions in Blackboard.”

“A tutorial more in depth on navigating blackboard.”

“Would give more actual assignments to force the student to learn more.”

FSU is currently evaluating LMS options between Blackboard and Canvas. In faculty feedback survey results, one respondent said:

“Blackboard is far too linear -- it does not have the flexibility it needs to engage students. It is so much more rigid than other online web-based material, that I fear it is antiquated. Its ability to offer interactive content is severely limited.”

New Approach

Kuh (2009) defined engagement in this way: “The engagement premise is straightforward and easily understood: the more students study a subject, the more they know about it, and the more students practice and get feedback from faculty and staff members on their writing and collaborative problem solving, the deeper they come to understand what they are learning” (p. 5). As instructional designers, we have the opportunity to set a great example for instructors by creating more engaging instructional materials. Our goal is to inspire and encourage instructors to develop course content to help achieve deeper thinking and learning.

While we kept the training course content, we designed, tweaked and delivered the training in a completely different format --- e-learning modular program. See and Teetor (2014) found through their implementation of an e-learning tool for their library employees that “… by using multiple e-Learning applications and embedding them in a course management system, staff can have a ubiquitous, point-of-need virtual learning environment that successfully prepared them to staff a 24/7 research library (p. 66).” For our course, we used Articulate Storyline software program to generate the same content used in the Blackboard training, but in a more creative and interactive way.

Design

We narrowed the content to four modules in Online Instructor Training Level 1: Online Instructor Readiness, Managing Course Content, Managing Online Communication, and Grading and Assessment. Before designing the structure of these modules, we needed to consider the distinction between instructor training and mentor training—individual vs. cohort. Mentor training is offered every semester with a group of enrolled mentors and requires learners to complete in a month. Discussion board use enables more interaction among learners. Instructor training, however, is on an as-needed basis and usually only one instructor accesses the training at a time. This factor determined the way we set up activities in the modules. The look and navigation throughout the modules were revamped. We also recreated the introduction videos to reflect changes made in the design. However, learning objectives, materials, and most quiz content stayed the same.

Interactive Learning

In order for learners to receive an adequate level of interaction, we used a variety of interactive objects. In addition to audio and visual objects, we inserted markers, lightboxes, external links, embedded videos, and interactive quizzes. The visual design facilitates learning in such a way that each page requires a mouse click from the learner. The visuals guide the learner through the modules, from the course introduction video to the quiz reviews. A legend explains the learning purpose of each icon, and navigation buttons help facilitate the learning process. Some activities force the learner to complete them before a score and review options are revealed. These buttons also run smoothly during reviews, so navigation is no longer a linear process. The interface replicates the look of an open book. On-screen texts are reduced to a minimum, and information markers are parallel to the items for convenient but detailed explanation. This design addresses the concern of heavy text while streamlining page content and workflow.

Assessments

Quizzes are not filled with multiple-choice questions with “Select all that apply” or short-term memory testing. The assessments are more than just the end-of-chapter quiz questions. Instead, the self-check assessments are designed to facilitate learning throughout the modules. Learners receive immediate feedback for these self-check activities. We kept some modular quizzes from the previous training, but learners can go through all the quiz questions and review them toward the end.

Another significant change is the use of a simulated Blackboard environment in assessments. Unit 2: Managing Course Content previously had one matching and four multiple-choice questions. The redesigned unit has sixteen hands-on, performance-based questions that require the learner to demonstrate how to navigate a Blackboard course environment in order to accurately answer the questions.

Integration with LMS

This Articulate project generates a SCORM-compliant object that can be added into Blackboard and tied to the Grade Center. Either Satisfaction or Complete/Incomplete can be recorded in the Grade Center. Learners who have passed 80 percent of the quiz questions will earn certificate of completion.

Projected Impact

We are planning to launch the pilot training program in summer 2016, receive formative feedback, and revise accordingly. Once the program has been widely shared among faculty members, our instructional development faculty will recommend modular components similar to this model. We have already identified some courses that could use instructional materials such as this to supplement their course subject matter. Instructors will also be encouraged to apply similar concepts in their own online course design. The software program Articulate should not function as a barrier but serve as a pathway to a creative instructional mindset. Our overall goal is to maximize student learning and cultivate a student-centered online environment.

Kuh, G. D. (2009). What student affairs professionals need to know about student engagement? Journal of College Student Development50(6), 683–706.

See, A., and Teetor, T. S. (2014). Effective e-training: Using a course management system and e-learning tools to train library employees. Journal of Access Services. 11(2), 66–90.  DOI: 10.1080/15367967.2014.896217

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15367967.2014.896217