Growth and Evolution of an Institutional Hybrid Initiative through a Faculty Learning Community Approach
Concurrent Session 3
This session will provide a case study of faculty development and diffusion of effective methods for using technology to support learning in hybrid courses. Strengths of faculty learning communities offered in a hybrid format will be illustrated. Participants will come away equipped to start faculty learning communities at their institutions.
This session will apply the experience of a university-wide hybrid course initiative to shed light on how an institution can successfully move through the initial “awareness and exploration” phase and the subsequent “adoption and early implementation” phase in the widely cited Blended Learning Adoption Model of Graham et al. (2013). We will explore the use of faculty learning communities in supporting professional development with particular emphasis on a successful two-year-old faculty learning community focused on the effective use of educational technologies in the delivery of hybrid courses.
Principal goal of this presentation: In this session, participants--whether they are teaching faculty, instructional designers/technologists, faculty developers or administrators--will learn techniques to successfully organize and facilitate hybrid faculty learning communities.
Systematically building faculty capacity to design, develop and teach high quality hybrid courses is a demanding task for institutions that are adding hybrid courses to their curricula at a rapid rate. Hurdles to overcome include time pressures to expeditiously implement hybrid course delivery, limited staff to provide instructional design and instructional technology support, a lack of faculty incentives, and the rapid pace of change in educational technology. These challenges are frequently compounded by a somewhat fragmented structure of institutional support for faculty development related to blended teaching and learning.
Many approaches are being used for hybrid faculty development (Ginsberg & Ciabocchi, 2013) and the number of excellent resources to use as guides for hybrid course design is growing, for instance, the Blended Learning Toolkit (UCF & AACU 2011), Stein & Graham’s (2013) Essentials for Blended Learning, and Linder’s (in press) Blended Course Design Workbook. The known efficacy of faculty learning communities as a means to produce transformative change in faculty (Cox & Richlin, 2004; Lenning et al. 2013) led the OSU Center for Teaching and Learning to implement hybrid faculty learning communities to pilot hybrid course redesigns starting in 2012.
These formal learning communities are hybrid both in format and in focus, with each faculty member redesigning a classroom course as a hybrid course while participating over a 10-week period in both online elements and 5 face-to-face meetings of the learning community. The campus Hybrid Course Initiative coordinator facilitates the learning communities, which typically have multi-disciplinary cohorts of 6-12 participants. Activities include hands-on use of course planning tools, demos of online tech tools, interaction with veteran hybrid instructors, discussions, readings, blogging, and a culminating showcase of planned course redesigns. Each participant receives professional development funding after completing the learning community and the resulting course redesign. These learning communities have played a significant role in raising faculty awareness of the potentials of hybrid teaching and learning, and supporting quality hybrid pedagogy. The university, which only began to schedule hybrid courses in 2012, now has 118 officially designated hybrid courses.
Following participation in a Hybrid Faculty Learning Community in 2014, one of this session’s presenters partnered with a colleague in the OSU College of Education to participate in a Center for Teaching and Learning-sponsored faculty learning community on how to facilitate faculty learning communities. The direct consequence of their participation was their creation of a Learning Educational Technologies (LET) Community.
The LET group meets monthly for 2 hours each Friday morning during the academic year, and is thriving. Meetings are typically attended by 12-15 participants including both a core group of College of Education faculty who mainly teach hybrid and/or online, as well as instructional designers, media developers and others who support teaching and learning across the university. To also foster online community LET has a blog, a Facebook group and makes use of Google docs for collaborative note-taking and link sharing. LET exemplifies how a faculty-created learning community formed around a shared interest can spur ongoing faculty development. Participants do not receive a financial incentive, but coffee/tea, baked goods and collegiality are enough to draw them to an enlivening exploration of learning technologies month after month.
Beyond explaining the OSU experience with hybrid learning communities described above, the presenters will share with the audience a set of guidelines for creation of successful faculty learning communities. The presenters will engage the audience through partner/small group moments in which each pair/group will examine potentials for learning communities at their institutions. The participants will be asked to come up with practical solutions to challenges that arise in organizing and facilitating hybrid learning communities, then share ideas with the full session. Additionally, the speakers will use interactive Q&A to draw on the participants’ knowledge and personal experiences with faculty learning communities as either learners or facilitators.
The presenters will provide handouts including hybrid planning forms and tips and techniques for organizing and facilitating faculty learning communities. The speakers will post the presentation slides and handouts on the conference web site.
Cox, M. W., & Richlin, L. (Eds.). (2004). Building Faculty Learning Communities: New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 97. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ginsberg, A.P & Ciabocchi, E. (2013). Growing your own blended faculty: A review of current faculty development practices in traditional, not-for-profit higher education institutions. Picciano, A. G., Dziuban, C. D., & Graham, C. R. (Eds.), Blended learning: research perspectives (Vol. 2) (pp. 190-202). Routledge.
Graham, C. R., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. B. (2013). A framework for institutional adoption and implementation of blended learning in higher education. Internet and Higher Education. Internet and Higher Education, 18, 4-14.
Lenning, O. T., Hill, D. M., Saunders, K. P., Solan, A., & Stokes, A. (2013). Powerful Learning Communities: A Guide to Developing Student, Faculty, and Professional Learning Communities to Improve Student Success and Organizational Effectiveness (2nd Revised ed.). Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Linder, K.E. (in press). The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Stein, J., & Graham, C.R. (2013). Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide. New York: Routledge.
University of Central Florida and American Association of Colleges and Universities. (2011). Blended Learning Toolkit. Retrieved from https://blended.online.ucf.edu