Redesigning an Online Faculty Enrichment Course to Meet the Individual Needs of Experienced and New Faculty

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session explains how instructional designers tailored professional development and support services to meet individual needs of new and experienced faculty  related to online course design. A successful course redesign process, resources, lessons learned, and outcomes will be shared about this incentivized faculty development program.

Presenters

Csilla Stewart works as an instructional designer and lecturer at Indiana State University. She holds a BS and a MS in Human Resource Development from Indiana State, and a master certificate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Media Technology (CIMT) for Higher Education and Industry. Her PhD is in CIMT with a focus on electronic portfolios in postsecondary teaching. She frequently facilitates workshops, presents at conferences, and works with profit as well as non-profit organizations in the community.

Additional Authors

As an Instructional Design Specialist in Distance Education, I collaborate with Indiana State University faculty to design meaningful, interactive online courses. Previously a high school English teacher, my work in the field of education for over a decade has brought me ample experiences in instructional technology, composition pedagogy and andragogy, and online learning. I have a M.A.T. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and a B.S. in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English and a Computer endorsement from Indiana University. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in educational technology at Indiana State University. I have written both personal and professional pieces and have had my work published in Trillium Literary Journal and other websites. My interests include digital writing, collaborative project-based learning, social networking, and Web 2.0 educational technologies.

Extended Abstract

Some faculty who are just entering a leading role in an online education environment for the first time come from industry without a strong pedagogical background. As a result, they may opt to utilize limited instructional strategies and design their courses without full consideration of alignment or effective delivery.

Other faculty, who have been teaching online for a longer period, may reach a point when they wish to refresh their course development skills or engagement arsenal. These faculty may already have a solid pedagogical foundation but desire a deeper understanding of how to best meet the needs of their current online learners. Therefore, with such diverse faculty from a variety of disciplines, it’s important to offer unified yet individualized professional development opportunities for both new and mid-career instructors, empowering them to thrive in their careers.

To meet these needs, originally, instructional designers developed and implemented an Online Instructor Certificate Course (OICC) that offered both pedagogical foundations and practical strategies for online teaching and learning. However, due to the breadth of content and the time required to complete the robust activities, faculty participants found the course daunting and overtaxing. After taking feedback into consideration from prior course participants, a new, refreshing course design emerged. Still a fully online, non-credit, graduate level course that incorporates Quality Matters standards, it is now a much-more streamlined process with options available to fit the particular needs of each instructor.

In the redesigned online course, which is offered each semester, participants complete 7 modules while developing their own online courses and interacting with fellow faculty. The course begins with an introduction of the legal parameters of online education as well as its theoretical foundations. Next, faculty learn how to provide appropriate student resources and adjust their course’s appearance within the Learning Management System, including modifying the banner, colors, and buttons.

The heart of the OICC engages faculty in generating measurable and meaningful course and module learning objectives, which drives the activities, assessments, and content in their own online courses. Ample time is spent allowing faculty to explore several options related to active learning strategies and best practices in online teaching. Faculty are also introduced to copyright laws as well as universal design and the need for ADA compliance.

Before concluding the OICC, faculty explore the nuances of an online course syllabus, adapting their existing policies to fit the needs of their students as well as the course and university expectations. Additionally, faculty create their own video-based welcome message to guide their students and invite them to engage in the learning community.

Each module contains an interactive lesson that presents the most essential theoretical and application elements participants need to review, various scored activities that gauge how well participants can apply the presented concepts, and tips for implementation. In addition, templates, relevant, annotated examples, linked outside resources, and researched-based materials are shared to ease the learning process for faculty.

Each week in the 10-week course, faculty are tasked with completing 2 to 4 course development activities, requiring them to apply the concepts they have acquired within each interactive lesson. Tasks range from adding a brief instructor bio to posting a link to institution resources to developing a summative assessment. Ultimately, by the conclusion of the OICC, faculty will have created, at a minimum, 2 complete modules for their online course. Thus, the goal of the OICC is not a fully developed course but rather a substantial foundation upon which faculty can build the rest of their online course.

Throughout the OICC, faculty are supported through personalized feedback and consultations with an assigned instructional designer. Each instructional designer facilitates the progress of 4 to 6 faculty members each semester, monitoring their progress during and even after the OICC experience. To better facilitate the learning process and expose faculty to the value of synchronous tools, one of the consultations is hosted via web conferencing software that enables all course participants and facilitators to experience live communication and experience several motivating features of the application.

The goal of the presentation is to share our redesign process, resources, and lessons learned. Furthermore, we reveal details of this successful course design, which resulted in high-quality course designs and instruction, increased overall student satisfaction, more programs introduced online, long-term professional relationships with participants, exposure to various departments through participants, and appreciative faculty who are up-to-date with their knowledge and skills.

We will engage the audience through interactive questions and answers, audience contribution, and small group discussions sharing institution-specific experiences. We will share our presentation slides, which will include links to examples and relevant resources.