Jumpstart: A Model for Rapid Online Course Design Consultation

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Facing a compressed schedule that challenges a conventional approach to supporting instructors with course design? Struggling with how to best equip instructors for success? Consider our “jumpstart” workshop, a consultative model that makes targeted use of evidence-based planning tools to help instructors quickly navigate difficult online course design decisions.



Maria Widmer is an Instructional Designer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education. Maria has worked in distance education for ten years, having previously designed and taught a high-enrollment online undergraduate arts course. Maria holds a M.Ed. in Learning, Design, and Technology, an Educational Technology Integration certificate, and an eLearning Design certificate, all from Penn State University. With a background in film production, educational software development, and online instruction, Maria is driven by a mission to make technology-mediated higher education an engaging, accessible, and effective force for transformational learning and social change.
Greg Konop provides leadership to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Information Technology, Academic Technology, Online Course Production service area. This team provides instructional design, development, and project management support to faculty and staff from all campus units. The team is a frequent collaborator in Provost or Vice Provost sponsored campus efforts. This includes being the lead resource for 10 MOOCs in 2013-2015, partnering in course development for redesign of the highest enrollment courses on campus (REACH), and collaboration in the re-envisioning of UW’s overall online strategy. Greg is a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning through OLC and Penn State University, a 2013 graduate of the MOR & Associates Information Technology Leadership program. Greg also holds an ATD e-Learning Design certificate and ATD Institutional Change Management certificate, as well as an Adult Learning Educator certificate through CompTIA. Greg is a former K-12 classroom instructor and lead for teacher professional development with instructional technology. One of Greg’s interests has always been to connect the classroom to the real world; it has been interesting to see both the opportunities and challenges that online instruction presents to support this pursuit.
Jonathan Klein is an Instructional Design and Technology Consultant for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Letters and Science where he leads online course design and production services. Jonathan holds a Master’s degree in Information and Communication Technology and a graduate certificate in Instructional Design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He also holds professional development credentials from several learning technology and leadership organizations, including an OLC Instructional Design Certificate (January 2018 cohort), the Educause Learning Technology Leadership Program (2013), and the MOR & Associates Information Technology Leadership Program (2015).

Extended Abstract

Do all instructors need or want the rigor of conventional faculty development? What can you do when time is limited and a traditional approach is impractical? Facing these questions, instructional design and technology consultants are asked to help instructors navigate highly compressed timelines, balance competing priorities, and produce rigorous and engaging learning experiences. In response to these challenges, the presenters have piloted a novel support model that selectively melds aspects of community-based faculty development, design consultation, and structured hands-on work time. The result is a course design “jumpstart” that quickly and effectively propels a group of new online instructors through difficult conceptual challenges that emerge early in the course design process.

Facilitated by a small group of cross-campus instructional designers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jumpstart engages faculty participants in a series of phased activities that drive forward pedagogically-sound course planning. During three two-hour Jumpstart sessions, instructors get straight to work with proven planning tools that expedite a conventional approach to design. These tools include a course map, weekly rhythm diagram, activity planning guide, quality rubric, and Canvas templates.

During this session, we will recap the experience, sharing the tools and small-group activities that structured the workshop program. In addition to addressing the benefits for faculty participants, we will also share insights from the facilitator perspective, including the successes, limitations, and future directions of this approach.

In this session, the presenters will explain how the Jumpstart workshop format:

  • Addresses workload pressures by engaging with faculty in efficient two-hour group sessions instead of multiple individual consultations.

  • Works toward an actionable course plan that helps to articulate needs and shapes ongoing collaborative relationships.

  • Sharpens individual consultative skills through partnerships with cross-campus instructional designers.

  • Advances institutional design tools and metrics for quality online learning.

Further, the presenters will engage attendees in a frank conversation about challenging decisions that surface when designing a support model that prioritizes speed. These include:

  • Determining how and when to integrate the theoretical underpinnings and scholarship of online course design.

  • Deciding to side-step formal instructional design processes that offer a comprehensive and complete approach to course planning.

  • Creating a program structure that combines flexibility and structure to make rapid progress while attending to individual instructor needs.

  • Selecting faculty participants who would most benefit from this approach.  

Session attendees will leave prepared to consider key challenges and design a jumpstart course workshop for their own professional contexts, armed with a collection of collaborative activities and online course planning tools.

Instructor survey feedback upon closure of Jumpstart:

  • I would recommend to a colleague new to online instruction. (100%)

  • The planning tools will help me better organize my teaching so that students meet course learning objectives. (100%)

  • Jumpstart helped me to identify 2-3 foundational principles and practices to apply to my online course. (100%)