Toward Effective Practice in Blended Course Design: An Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Case Using Knowledge Management Principles

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

A knowledge management-based instructional design framework guided the creation of a blended learning “teaching strategies” course for adjunct faculty. KM is used to identify, share, and validate knowledge to improve individual and organizational performance. Our session focuses on how this framework can be used to design similar blended learning experiences.


Julie Hewitt, PhD, EdS, PMP, CSM is a learning and technology advocate. She is available for consulting and contract work related to higher education programming, curricular and operational assessment. Hewitt has almost 20 years of experience among higher education, K12 education, and training and development in industry. Hewitt's research interests include faculty development, teaching and learning, course design, and technology. Most recently Hewitt was with UW-Platteville where her diverse knowledge and skills with online faculty and course management, assessment, and research were leveraged. Hewitt was the lead on the Online Faculty Academy (OFA) and was collaborating with others on the exploration of Open Educational Resources (OER) and affordability. Prior to UW-Platteville, she served as a part of campus administration as a Dean of Student Services. Hewitt also has experiences in higher education as an Academic Program Director, an online graduate adjunct faculty member, and a face-to-face undergraduate faculty member. Her prior work experiences extend to the corporate world as a business and training systems analyst for a large aerospace company and K-12 public education as a secondary education teacher, coach, and district technology coordinator. Hewitt is a member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the eLearning Guild, United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), and Project Management Institute (PMI).
Marti Snyder is an associate professor in the Department of Information Systems and Cybersecurity in the College of Engineering at Nova Southeastern University. Marti teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in learning design and technology, design thinking, project management, and computing privacy and ethics. She also chairs doctoral student dissertations. Marti researches effective designs for teaching and learning in blended, online, mobile, and virtual learning environments; socially conscious design; and issues relating to technology use among older adults. Her work crosses multiple disciplines including education, engineering, information systems, and health professions. Marti has published articles in national and international journals and is an active reviewer for journals and conferences in her field. Her current research focuses on use of remote monitoring technologies by informal caregivers as well as effective instructional designs for blended learning, simulations, and mixed-reality. For more information visit:

Extended Abstract


By nature of the credentialing models established in most higher education institutions, adjunct and full-time faculty are content knowledge experts in their field and not trained educational practitioners (Abbitt, 2011; Berrett, 2012; Tannehill, 2009). As a result, performance gaps often exist in the areas of instructional methods and classroom management. Performance gaps among adjunct faculty who teach in face-to-face classrooms can be symptoms of incomprehensive or fragmented professional development opportunities (Gappa & Austin, 2010; Nasreen & Mirza, 2012; Venkatraman, 2012). For example, adjunct faculty are provided limited training or one-time training and then they are placed into the classroom. This type of one-time training does not provide adequate support for instructors who have never been in the classroom. In fact, Venkatraman (2012) suggests that continued support of first-time instructors is often needed for a minimum of one year and often beyond. Simply put, traditional professional development models are not meeting staff development needs (Kim, Bonk, & Oh, 2008; Tannehill, 2009; Womble, 2008). Educational organizations are increasing the use of the blended learning environments for students, but have not appeared to incorporate this same strategy within their own training and development structure (Bonk & Graham, 2005). Kim et al. (2008) point out the value of blended learning as an option for professional development in the workplace. Opportunities exist to develop accessible professional development programs that leverage the benefits of both face-to-face and online formats to give adjunct faculty just-in-time and real-time support as they learn to implement specific instructional methods and classroom management techniques in their face-to-face classrooms (Yeh, Huang, & Yeh, 2011).

The SECI knowledge management model (Nonaka, 1991) has shown promise in learning design but has not be studied widely (Yeh, et al., 2011). SECI stands for socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization and illustrates the four modes of knowledge conversion (Nonaka, 1991). The formation, transferability, and reconstructing of knowledge is a requisite in knowledge management, but it is also important to learning and critical thinking (Smith, 2001; Yeh et al., 2011; Zhao, 2010).

Design and Development Research Study

A design and development research study (Richey & Klein, 2007) was conducted to construct and validate the instructional design of a 15-week blended “teaching strategies” course for adjunct faculty.  There were four phases. In phase one, an instructional design framework that integrated the four modes of the SECI knowledge management model was developed. The framework included a mapping of the course learning outcomes, SECI knowledge type, and activities that represented each knowledge type.  In phase two, an expert panel reviewed the framework and mapping. The Delphi technique was used to facilitate phase two and revisions to the framework were made as a result of the expert panel’s feedback. In phase three, the framework was used to instantiate the course in Desire2Learn learning management system. In phase four, focus groups with key stakeholders including faculty, staff, and administrators were conducted to formatively evaluation the course design.

Design Document for Blended Learning Implementation - Presentation's Focus

The four-phase research study will not be the focus of this presentation, but rather one of the resulting design artifacts. We will share the design document that provides a detailed guide for practitioners who are interested in implementing this type of KM-based blended learning design. We believe that the rigorous process entailed to design and develop this type of blended learning experience is an example of an effective practice in blended course development.

The components of the design document include the following:

  • A description and graphic of the instructional design framework
  • Course overview
  • Course description
  • Learning outcomes
  • Scope of subject matter
  • Target audience
  • Pre-requisites
  • Human and technology resource requirements
  • Active participation and evaluation strategy
  • Faculty participant resources
  • Facilitator resources
  • Overview of course organization and learning activities
  • Week-by-week overview and course calendar that includes dates and topics, as well as, associated learning outcomes, activities, and assessments

Engaging the Audience

We anticipate that our presentation will spark curiosity about other types of strategies for designing blended learning professional development opportunities. Ample time (at least 15 minutes of the 45-minute session) will be provided to engage the audience in a conversation about their experiences not only with professional development opportunities, but how they are designed and delivered at their institutions. We would like to find out from our audience answers to questions such as: How are your institutions engaging adjunct faculty in professional development? What is the process for design and delivery of professional development opportunities not only for adjuncts but other institutional stakeholders including full-time and part-time faculty, staff, and administrators?

OLC’s Five Pillars of Quality for Effective Practice

In reflecting on how this practice of instructional design addresses OLC’s five pillars of quality as an effective practice, we note the following:

Learning Effectiveness: The design document that resulted from this four-phase design and development study, serves as a blueprint for other practitioners who are interested in implementing similar blended learning experiences. The design document is a result of a rigorous construction and validation process that challenged the design’s effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal (Reigeluth, 1999). Effective practice begins with effective design.

Scale: While the KM-based ID framework was applied in this instance to a blended learning course for adjunct faculty development, the framework itself is not content-centric. The framework incorporates concepts from the SECI model, blended learning, Bloom’s taxonomy, just-in-time delivery, and communities of practice. Within the framework, design is scalable across domains, disciplines, and audiences. This type of blended learning model was designed with scalability and cost-effectiveness in mind.

Access: By nature of the design framework and its intentional blended learning delivery format, access is optimized. This blended learning framework can be used with adjunct faculty, as well as for the design and construction of other professional development opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

Faculty Satisfaction: Phase four of the validation process focused on the design’s appeal to potential stakeholders including faculty, staff, and administrators. Through this blended learning design, adjunct faculty reported on the idea that they would be supported throughout the semester with just-in-time information and support that will help them become effective instructors. Full-time faculty also reported that this type of course would be beneficial for them.

Student Satisfaction: Although this instantiation of the design framework was a course for faculty professional development, it could be implemented with students also. This type of just-in-time blended learning course also benefits students directly because in taking this course, it is hoped that adjunct faculty become more skilled in classroom instruction and management and efficacious in their instructional delivery.

As noted in the title, we aim for continuous improvement with our learning designs. The five pillars of quality serve as guideposts that support our efforts.



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Berrett, D. (2012). Harvard conference seeks to jolt university teaching. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on March 23, 2012, from

Bonk, C. J. & Graham, C. R. (Eds.) (2005). Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfieffer Publishing.

Gappa, J.M. & Austin, A.E. (2010).Rethinking academic traditions for twenty-first-century faculty. AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, 1

Kim, K., Bonk, C.J., & Oh, E. (2008). Present and future state of blended learning in workplace learning settings. Performance Improvement, 47(8). 5-16.

Nasreen, A. & Mirza, M.S. (2012). Faculty training and development in the public sector university of Punjab. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3 (3), 229-240.

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Reigeluth, C.M. & Frick, T.W. (1999). Formative research: A methodology for creating and improving design theories. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, Volume II (633-651). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Smith, E. A. (2001). The role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace. Journal of Knowledge Management, 5(4), 311-321.

Richey, R.C. & Klein, J.D. (2007). Design and Development Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Tannehill, D. B. (2009). Andragogy: How do post-secondary institutions educate and service adult learners? [Dissertation]. ProQuest.

Venkatraman, G. (2012). Empowerment of teachers through continuous competence ascendance: Perspectives of Senior Teachers. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(5), 130-132.

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Yeh, Y., Huang, L., & Yeh, Y. (2011). Knowledge management in blended learning: Effects on professional development in creativity instruction. Computers & Education, 56, 146-156.

Zhao, J. (2010). School knowledge management framework and strategies: The new perspective on teacher professional development. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 168-175.