TOPkit: Adoptable, Adaptable, Interactive Community for Those Who Provide Online Faculty Development

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

TOPkit provides an interactive community for professionals who prepare faculty to teach online. Adoptable, adaptable resources run the gamut from two sample courses to a Faculty Development Decision Guide to rubrics for quality courses/programs. Participants have the opportunity to contribute to the community, register for the monthly Digest newsletter, and Ask ADDIE for faculty development advice.

Presenters

Amanda Major, Ed.D., CPLP, PMP enjoys contributing to instructional design initiatives and leading projects to enhance online higher education. Dr. Major has experience delivering results in a variety of learner-focused and client-oriented environments. Prior to arriving at UCF as an instructional designer Amanda taught online courses, oversaw online program management, participated in strategic planning efforts, developed policies, offered instructional design assistance, and improved business processes to contribute to quality online programs at a large, public, research-intensive University. Actively contributing to the field of online learning, she has presented at national and international conferences and has peer-reviewed publications about organizational development, as well as e-learning operations and projects in higher education. Dr. Major holds a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institution (PMI) and a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance certification from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Additionally, she has earned certifications from the Online Learning Consortium and Quality Matters focused specifically on online learning in higher education. Her academic credentials include an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy and law; an M.A. in industrial organizational psychology; and a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in social psychological issues.
Ashley is an Instructional Designer at the University of Central Florida, Center for Distributed Learning. Prior to joining the CDL team, Ashley taught in the K-12 environment where she developed her skill set to advance and apply effective teaching practices. Her current research interests include professional development for teaching online, application of emerging technologies, and the use of OER materials.

Additional Authors

Dr. Wendy Howard is the Program Director of the Pegasus Innovation Lab at the University of Central Florida, which is an incubator of experimental projects focused on digital learning innovations that can be developed and refined through rapid prototyping and then promoted throughout the university to maximize collective impact on student success at scale. With over twenty years of experience in both instructional design and teaching, her current research is focused on faculty development, collaborative online learning and internationalizing the curriculum through technology.

Extended Abstract

Building or enhancing a comprehensive faculty development program for teaching online can be a daunting task for any institution with limited resources. In addition to the time required to adequately analyze, design, and develop a complete course from scratch, it can be difficult to stay on top of all the evolving trends in our field. Now there’s an online toolkit where resources from around the world are being curated to provide a wide array of models, strategies, and even sample courses to source from, supported by an active community where like-minded professionals can share their challenges, best practices, and additional resources with each other.

Purpose and Objectives

This session is appropriate for anyone responsible for preparing faculty to teach online, whether they are building a new faculty development program from the ground up, updating an existing program, or simply seeking a venue to share effective practices and collaborate. Attendees will leave the session being able to:

  • Share about the comprehensive online faculty development initiative

  • Identify the informative and interactive components of TOPkit

  • Adopt and adapt faculty development resources provided for your own institution

  • Interact in TOPkit.org to shape the evolving community

The general outline for the educational session is:

  • Introduction and Background

  • What do you do? (Group Discussion)

  • Site Tour

  • How you can participate

Introduction and Background

In support of the State University System of Florida Board of Governors 2025 Strategic Plan for Online Education, a team of instructional designers at the University of Central Florida produced the Teaching Online Preparation Toolkit (TOPkit) for faculty development professionals across the state, and on Feb. 1, 2017 they opened the site publicly for the global community to participate. All of the content in the toolkit, including two sample courses, is available for use under Creative Commons licensing, so TOPkit may be leveraged to decrease development time and resources. In addition, the community of practice provides a venue for professionals to share effective practices and ask for advice from peers. This comprehensive solution is comprised of three components:

  • The Teaching Online Preparation Toolkit (TOPkit) is a comprehensive resource that provides the postsecondary community with the essential elements required to ensure a very high quality online faculty development program, including an interactive planning guide and sample courses based on UCF’s award-winning IDL6543 that may be imported into any learning management system and then customized.

  • The Florida Online Faculty Development Workshop is a two-day train-the-trainer experience hosted by UCF for faculty development professionals from across the state of Florida. It prepares these education professionals to return to their campuses and effectively implement the best practices, resources, and tools contained within the Teaching Online Preparation Toolkit.

  • The Community of Practice is a global forum for ongoing collaboration and sharing of faculty development resources and effective practices. The community of practice is currently facilitated by UCF along with the advisory board and will be an ongoing forum for advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning in the online environment.

The effort to mount this online faculty development initiative spanned three higher education systems in one of the largest states in the U.S. It was a cross-functional unit effort to build and sustain the toolkit with adoptable, adaptable resources, workshop provided for state members, and interactive, evolving community of practice. While the workshop is currently reserved for Florida institutions, the toolkit and community of practice are publicly available at TOPkit.org for all to share. What began as a state initiative now has an international reach.

What do you do? Group Discussion

Within our community we often find that faculty developers are eager to compare programs and strategies. We will facilitate a group discussion and report back to provide a venue for participants to share their current practices and goals for future faculty development courses. This activity will then set the context for the site tour and a follow up discussion on how the TOPkit site might serve their specific needs and support their own efforts to prepare faculty for teaching online.

TOPkit Toolkit Tour

Whether planning, developing, enhancing, or evaluating any aspect of a faculty development program, participants can engage in the interactive resources of TOPkit.org to meet their faculty members’ online teaching needs. On a tour of TOPkit, participants will see engaging interactive resources and informative, research based content. The Faculty Development Decision Guide is an interactive tool designed to allow institutions to create a plan of action for their own online faculty development program. The Decision Guide was built from models presented in the literature, including the featured Quality Transformational Model for Faculty Development. Other features of the website include:

  • Checklists and rubric resources enable institutions to create a customized assessment process for their own specific needs

  • Sample courses to download and import into any Learning Management System

  • Tools, techniques, and strategies that inspire faculty participation

  • Essential content considerations for online courses, like accessibility and privacy, that your institutions have a legal obligation to address.

  • Tips for demonstrating effectiveness of faculty development or instructional practices,

  • Research resources to provide guidance for sources of data and tips for conducting research

  • Journals and a list of professional associations with conferences, provide methods for disseminating research and contributing to best practices in online digital learning

These TOPkit toolkit resources, ultimately, provide guidance to begin and continuously improve faculty development, as well as to inform stakeholders, thereby building support and resources to enhance any institution’s faculty development program.

TOPkit Interactive Community

The interactive components of TOPkit engages professionals within the community to implement faculty development best practices. Professionals can search the site to find a resource or share effective practices or resources, many have already shared useful adoptable, adaptable artifacts. To find answers to important faculty development dilemmas or concerns, Ask ADDIE. Our resident advice columnist ADDIE gives expert advisement. ADDIE has tackled questions about accessibility, instructional design, incentivizing faculty, diffusing/instituting instructional technology, and more.

Participating in the community is as simple as signing up. To share resources and your expertise, complete a short registration on the TOPkit website. Sign up for the Digest to receive best practices for faculty development. Topics span the entire breadth of the profession.

Now and Upcoming

Participants will have time to register on TOPkit, sign up for the Digest, and interact in the community. Participants will be provided with upcoming events available to all, such as synchronous sessions to collaborate with colleagues about faculty development programs and to further engage with TOPkit. The TOPkit toolkit and community has an assortment of faculty development resources sure to enrich any institution’s program.