Built to Suit: Partnering centralized resources with academic college support to create a custom faculty development approach

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

How you combine substantive online professional development for pedagogy with specialized, technical, and domain-specific skills to support teaching in one college’s online degree programs? See how one partnership at a large research 1 institution brought an arts and architecture college’s e-learning institute together with the with the university’s online faculty development unit to combine resources. 


Gary Chinn is Assistant Dean & Director of the Office of Digital Learning at Penn State University. He has served as eLearning Initiative Project Manager at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering. He previously served as instructional designer for Penn State's Blended Learning Initiative, Baruch College at the City University of New York, and Teachers College at Columbia University. During his time with the eLearning Institute, Gary oversaw the design and development of Penn State's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), titled 'Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques.' He is currently pursuing online projects in collaboration with the School of Visual Arts and the School of Music. Gary holds a B.S. in radio-television-film from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University at Bloomington. His professional association memberships include Educause, the Sloan Consortium, the eLearning Guild, and the American Society for Training and Development.
Larry holds a PhD in Educational Theory and Policy from Penn State University and an MEd in Leadership, Policy, and Organizations from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. He directs the Online Faculty Development unit at Penn State World Campus and teaches on the Educational Leadership faculty both online and resident instruction. His research interests include online teaching and learning, online faculty development, urban school districts, and educational leadership. Prior to his work in higher education, Larry served in K-12 schools as a teacher, administrator, and principal. Larry is 2012 graduate of the Institute of Emerging Leadership for Online Learning (IELOL), the recipient of the Online Learning Consortium’s Best-in-Track for Faculty Development award (2014, 2015), and a former Pauline Turner Fellowship recipient in the College of Education. Larry is published in education journals including American Educational Research Journal and Peabody Journal of Education.
Andrew holds the Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University in 2013. His dissertation is titled, The Strained Partnership Between Secularization and Sectarianism in Higher Education. He earned my B.A. in religion from Westminster College (PA) followed by my M.Div. and Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary where he won the Fellowship in Practical Theology. Andrew began work in faculty development as a Senior Instructional Designer at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ and then as a Federal Title III Grant Program Director at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA. He has published in the Teacher’s College Record, the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, and the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. He has also co-written a book chapter in the volume, Private Higher Education in Post-Communist Europe: In Search of Legitimacy (2007). Andrew has presented at conferences such as The Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Online Learning Consortium, Educause, and the Educause Learning Initiative. He is the proud father of two young boys and have an adorable black lab. He is an avid reader, drummer, insatiable consumer of music, coffee fiend, and you will find him running whenever and wherever he can.

Extended Abstract

At at large Research 1 university with a substantial online presence (over 130 degree programs), an online faculty development (OFD) unit offers over a dozen free training courses to all faculty in support of their transition to teaching online. These courses, focused on online pedagogy, cover topics such as development of teaching competencies, supporting accessibility, discussion management, assessment, understanding a variety of online learners (adults military, international), gamification, and online team work.
While this central OFD unit is supports a broad range of online faculty, individual academic colleges pursue their own efforts to support faculty in teaching online and hybrid courses. With discipline-specific content, tools, platforms, and teaching approaches differing from college to college, a level of customization can be expected. Colleges of science, for example, may rely more heavily on online labs while colleges of nursing may take more case-based pedagogical approaches. Centralized OFD units understandably have to prioritize the development of materials that support the broadest range of online instructor skills. But what does it look like when a centralized office partners with a college of arts and architecture college to draw from the best of both groups to create a high-quality, scalable, custom professional development experience for online instructors?  
In this session, the presenters discuss 1) how the idea for collaboration arose--the needs, resources, and culture of arts and architecture online faculty, 2) the design and projects of the collaboration, 3) and the initial measure for impact and success. Specifically.:

  1. Existing OFD resources (courses, webinars, and face-to-face training) were substantive but primarily focused on effective online teaching practices for a wide variety of online academic programs. Missing for the arts and architecture college were trainings on discipline-specific technical skills for online learning, such as how to use custom-built online studio tools, how to design iterative artifact-based assignments, and how to train students in providing valuable critique feedback to peers. The College faculty used the OFD resources but wanted to centralize them with their own training in specific skills, such as using Photoshop and other technical software core to arts and architecture courses, copyright use, and xxxxx. This collaborative merging could serve the college's online faculty more comprehensively with a "one stop shop" for instructional improvement. Additionally, it would also create the expectation that College faculty would be introduced to the idea of online, career-long online faculty development as an expectation. 
  2. The College and the OFD unit agreed on fundamental principles:  a) the OFD unit would customize some course content and certificates (the completion of multiple related raining courses) to meet the needs of College faculty; b) the OFD unit would enroll and track the College faculty, regularly reporting on the progress of individual faculty through professional development spanning 3-5 years or more; c) the College would work with faculty to assess the extent to which knowledge and competencies gained in the OFD training courses were applied to online classroom teaching; and d) open and regular communication and collaborative decision-making with a "what's best for faculty?" essential question.
  3. As the OFD and College partnership was launched, the partners identified initial measures of effectiveness and success. These included
  • Periodic reflective sessions on the functionality and arising issues between the partners;
  • College faculty enrollments in the OFD's certificates and ongoing professional development programs;
  • Surveys of faculty's satisfaction with the combined OFD/College resources; 
  • Student surveys regarding faculty effectiveness and engagement.

Participant  Interaction. In addition to whole-group discussion, the session will include on the spot polls and several small group break out session to explore possible cross-university partnerships for online faculty development at their universities.
Participant Learning Outcomes. The participants will:

  • gain examples of how two cross-university units navigated the politics and structures to merge resources;
  • hear strategies for collaboration and partnerships that all for comprehensive only faculty development
  • learn about an establish online faculty development unit and its curriculum and instruction design and practice
  • learn about how a college's e-learning institute formed a partnership to expand its professional development capacity with little to no additional cost or demand on existing capacity