Benchmarking Teaching and Learning Center Support for Online and Distance Learning: A Delphi Study

Concurrent Session 1
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Brief Abstract

This session reports on the first phase of a wide scale benchmarking study of teaching and learning centers, which developed and validated a descriptive framework and instrument, and the implementation of the phase two benchmarking.

Sponsored By


Jason Rhode, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Executive Director of Extended Learning at Northern Illinois University (NIU). In his role he serves as chief online learning officer, oversees NIU's Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, and provides strategic leadership and long-range vision for development and delivery of academic credit-bearing online and off-campus courses and programs.

Additional Authors

Stephanie Richter is the Director of Faculty Development and Instructional Support for the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. She consults with and provides professional development for faculty on integrating technology into teaching and supports the online teaching and learning initiatives at NIU. She holds a Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Instructional Technology at Northern Illinois University. Research interests include online learning, online course design, social media and networking, faculty development, and faculty use of learning management systems.
Tracy Miller is the Assistant Director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at Northern Illinois University. At NIU she is responsible for operations, quality assurance, and compliance process and reporting for the center.

Extended Abstract

There is a growing need for teaching and learning centers (TLCs) to support faculty in their online teaching endeavors (Strawser & Banug, 2017). Researchers have examined online faculty development from numerous perspectives, ranging from identifying overall best practices (Coswatte Mohr & Shelton, 2017) to offering principles for guiding online faculty development programming (Wright, 2016). Yet, the field still lacks research into the strategic importance and positioning of TLCs for online program development and support. Numerous questions persist about TLCs and their role in supporting online and distance learning. For example, what is the current role of TLCs in supporting online and distance education initiatives? Where are TLCs currently positioned within the institutional organizational structure as compared to the past and how has their structure and composition changed to meet operational and strategic needs for online and distance learning growth? Have TLCs transitioned to offer support of emerging methods of instructional delivery, or have new online and distance learning units taken on such support?

Without benchmarking data on the current trends regarding the scope of responsibilities as well as the programs, resources, and services offered by TLCs in support of online and distance learning program development, institutions are making decisions about the future direction of their faculty development initiatives for supporting online and distance learning in the absence of sufficient information regarding best practices for strategy, structure, and substance of educational development for online and distance learning.

In this session, we will report on the results of the first phase of a wide scale benchmarking study that addresses this gap. Phase one, used a Delphi methodology with a panel of TLC directors to develop and validate a descriptive framework and research instrument to gather data on the programs, resources, and services TLCs offer in support of online and distance learning. Participants will learn about the study, the metrics which were determined to be significant benchmarks, and the implementation of the validated instrument in phase two of the study, which coincides with the conference.

During the session, presenters will introduce the purpose of the study, highlight results of the Delphi process, and share the validated benchmarking instrument. The remainder of the session will be dedicated to participants engaging in discussions about interpretation of the metrics and application of the benchmarking data to their own institutions.


Coswatte Mohr, S., & Shelton, K. (2017). Best practices framework for online professional development: A delphi study. Online Learning, 21(4), 123-140.

Strawser, M. G., & Bunag, T. (2017). Leading faculty through a paradigm shift: Creating a sustaining a needs-based approach to e-learning faculty development programs. In A. A. Piña, V. L. Lowell, & B. R. Harris (eds.) Leading and Managing e-Learning: What the e-Learning Leader Needs to Know (pp. 203-219). Springer.

Wright, M. (2016). Evidence-based principles for online faculty development. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from