Engaging Faculty in Online Learning: A Distance Education Academy

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Auburn University has created a Distance Education Academy to train faculty to develop and teach online courses.  Focus throughout the workshops is on student engagement and active learning in the online environment, which our faculty experience by completing online activities as students in the course.

Presenters

I have been a part of the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts IT Staff since 2003, and serve as the Director of the Foreign Language Multimedia Center. I hold an undergraduate degree in International Business and a Master's degree in Spanish from Auburn. I also completed some post graduate work at the University of Kentucky and taught Spanish for just over 20 years. In addition to face to face classes at a variety of institutions (Auburn University, Auburn University Montgomery, University of Kentucky, and Lexington Community College), I have earned an Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching through the Online Learning Consortium (formerly called SLOAN Consortium), and have six years of experience developing and teaching online courses for Troy University and the University System of Georgia eCore. At Auburn, I teach workshops and assist CLA faculty and graduate teaching assistants with Canvas, REEF Polling, Panopto, iPads, Qualtrics, SharePoint, and other instructional technologies. I have been supporting the CLA core online course initiatives since they began in 2014. I am also active in several professional organizations, most notably the International Association for Language Learning Technology, in which I served as the Programs Director for four years and am currently the Conference Coordinator.
Wiebke Kuhn has been an IT Manager in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University for ten years. She works with faculty on instructional technologies, research and outreach projects, and is currently spearheading active learning, including classroom configurations and course redesign, at Auburn. Previously, she taught English at Auburn University, holds a Ph.D. in Medieval English Literature; and she is currently working on an advanced degree in Adult Education with a focus on active learning in higher education.

Extended Abstract

Auburn University has created a Distance Education Academy to train faculty to develop and teach online courses.  Focus throughout the workshops is on student engagement and active learning in the online environment, which our faculty experience by completing online activities as students in the course.

A few years ago, the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Auburn University started seeing a drop in summer enrollment, especially in core courses.  Students were leaving town for the summer and were enrolling in core courses at local community colleges while they lived at home. In Summer 2014, we began an initiative to teach quality CLA core courses online during the summer so that students would have the option to take Auburn courses while they were traveling or working in their hometown.  The problem we faced was that most faculty had no experience and little interest in teaching online.  To address both issues, the Dean and Instructional Technology staff designed a year-long program to assist faculty in proposing and developing quality online CLA core courses; provide faculty with models, resources, and tools to teach them effectively; and support those faculty financially through a series of face-to-face workshops, online course materials, and follow-up consultations.  Those first faculty-designed courses were taught during Summer 2015 with much success, and we repeated the Distance Education Academy program again in 2016.  In addition to our successful intense summer workshops, we opened up an online version of a similar workshop during the fall and spring terms because faculty expressed interest in learning more once they realized resources were available for them to be successful teaching online.  This mix of online and intensive face-to-face workshops has allowed for the College to offer a scalable faculty development model, with the first round of workshops attracting 18 faculty (with incentives), the second round of workshops attracting 18 faculty (9 with incentives), and 20 faculty throughout the year (without incentives). 

In this Discovery Session, the presenters will share the results from the workshop survey, student evaluations, and faculty follow-up surveys, as well as lessons learned and changes that were made for 2016.  Participants will have access to faculty contract templates, topics covered, and strategies used to engage faculty, and will also learn about the format utilized for the online and face-to-face sessions.  The impact of the model is measurable through the stabilization of summer enrollment and the fact that the majority of the College of Liberal Arts’ 41 core courses are now online.  With 13 departments, the College of Liberal Arts is the largest college at Auburn University and impacts thousands of students across campus.  We now have over 60 online courses available and will be adding even more in the near future.