Using Faculty Feedback to Develop Training and Support for Campus-Wide Use of Educational Technology

Concurrent Session 4
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Brief Abstract

We will share how we used feedback from faculty surveys to drive the development, launch and revision of professional development and support services for faculty with an emphasis on meeting the needs of adjunct and online instructors.


Dr. Amber L. Vaill has been an educator since 1999 and has been working in the field of higher education since 2007. She currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Becker College. Her early career in higher education focused on the areas of instructional technology and online education. Prior to assuming her current role at Becker College she developed the plan for and launched the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology, a department dedicated to providing faculty with support and training in the areas of curriculum development, teaching strategies, and digital learning. Before joining the team at Becker, Dr. Vaill led the Center for Online Learning at Bay Path University from 2007-2013, overseeing a team providing technical and pedagogical support to online faculty and students. Prior to moving into the field of higher education, she served as a secondary- and middle-school level English and history classroom and online teacher. Throughout her career Dr. Vaill has developed and implemented online faculty and student support and training programs and online course development and review processes, including the creation of online student orientation courses and online faculty development initiatives. She has also served as an online program curriculum coordinator within the K-12 online learning space, has formally mentored many new online instructors, and has conducted as well as managed many online course development projects. Dr. Vaill has published and presented at numerous national and regional conferences on topics including online faculty development, supporting students through a transition to a new learning management system, and the importance of online student orientations. Dr. Vaill has been actively involved in the NERCOMP organization since 2011. She is currently serving as a member of the NERCOMP Board of Trustees and was Chair for the NERCOMP 2018 Annual Conference. Dr. Vaill holds a Ph.D. in Education with an e-Learning specialization from Northcentral University. Her dissertation is entitled "Preparing Online Learners for Success: Orientation Methods and Their Impact on Learner Readiness". She also holds an M.Ed. in History from Westfield State University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instructional Technology from Framingham State University. She has also completed many professional training programs, including the EDUCAUSE-NERCOMP Workshop Series for Managers, the EDUCAUSE Institute Learning Technology Leadership Program, and is a Quality Matters certified Peer Reviewer.

Extended Abstract

In order for faculty to live up to their full potential in the classroom, it is important for institutions to provide them with appropriate opportunities for training and access to support and other resources. It is essential that support services and resources meet the needs of faculty; yet, it is equally important to educate faculty of the possibilities that educational technology holds for classroom use. To this end, the instructional technology and design staff at Becker College administered a faculty survey in 2014. Data from this survey was used to drive the planning of a variety of online and face-to-face faculty development workshops and support resources. Among these were the development of a blended approach to preparing adjunct faculty to be successful in the classroom and an online training course for new online instructors. In the fall of 2015 the College expanded upon the success of those programs by creating a department on campus to provide support and training for all faculty relating to teaching and technology. An updated version of the faculty survey, administered in the spring of 2016, provided new insights into the needs of current faculty. Our presentation will provide attendees with an overview of how we used faculty feedback to drive the creation and revision of support and training resources, focusing specifically on how we addressed the needs of adjunct and online faculty.

The blended approach to faculty development that we launched in 2014 included the use of two online training courses for adjunct faculty within our traditional program (“Strategies for Teaching College Students” and “Canvas Basics”) supplemented with optional face-to-face workshops and one-on-one training sessions. Our 2014 faculty survey found that many instructors were interested in these types of flexible training opportunities because they met the needs of their busy schedules. Many adjunct faculty work during the day and teach at night making scheduling live training sessions difficult. All adjunct faculty who have taught for the College’s traditional program since the Spring 2015 semester have been enrolled in these two courses and many have also taken advantage of the available face-to-face support services and trainings.

To build on the success of this initiative the College launched a department within Academic Affairs in September 2015 that is dedicated to providing workshops, trainings and consultations on teaching practices, curriculum and course development, and digital learning. The Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology, known as the TLT, is staffed by a Director, an Online Course Development Coordinator, and a Digital Learning Support Specialist. The TLT surveyed faculty at the College again in the spring of 2016 to determine their professional development wants and needs along with their level of and interest in technology use. The survey found that in general the faculty were looking for professional development in areas such as engaging students in active learning, improving their in-class presentation skills, creating video presentations, and strategies for teaching online. They were also looking to learn more about beyond-the-basics tools in our Canvas LMS such as rubrics, multimedia and group features. The survey also identified an increased interest in professional development offerings that meet the needs of the College’s adjunct faculty.

At the same time the survey was administered, the TLT was in the process of developing our third fully online faculty training course – the “Online Teaching and Learning Workshop”. The course was designed to provide faculty teaching hybrid or online courses with training in the LMS, a foundation in the pedagogical approach to online learning, strategies for managing an online classroom, and approaches to creating an engaging online learning community. With the goal of making the course a requirement for all faculty teaching online and hybrid courses in the future, it was piloted with a group teaching hybrid nursing courses during the summer 2016 semester. The Dean of the program was highly supportive in the development of the course and required her faculty to complete it. The pilot provided informative feedback from the participants to allow us to revise the course and prepare it for full-scale launch. This course will be launching at scale in the fall of 2016 for the traditional program at the College.

While pre- and post-course surveys have shown that the online faculty development courses have been successful in helping preparing traditional program faculty to teach their courses, the College’s professional studies division (which primarily serves adult learners) did not initially require faculty to participate in these courses. Courses in the professional studies division are almost entirely taught by adjunct instructors. Given the results of our survey and the identified need for appropriate training opportunities for adjunct instructors, the TLT worked with the administration of the professional studies division to plan for a summer 2016 launch of online training for their faculty. Beginning with the fall 2016 semester, all faculty in the division will be required to complete one of the courses. At the time of this writing, we are preparing to launch the courses for this population. All faculty in the professional studies division who will be teaching online during the fall semester will complete the “Online Teaching and Learning Workshop”; those teaching on-campus will complete the “Strategies for Teaching College Students” course.

During our presentation we will share our process in using faculty survey data to drive the creation of these workshops and to deliver the appropriate training to faculty in a way that is convenient to them, focusing on the role of technology and online content in delivering these trainings. We will also discuss the creation of the TLT, its role on campus, and faculty feedback regarding the support and training they have received through the TLT. Attendees will be able to generate ideas they can bring back to their own campuses based on our experiences in preparing faculty for teaching success, preparing online faculty with the skills they need to provide their students with a quality learning experience and the creation of a teaching and technology support team.