The DL Jedi Academy: Developing a Certified Online Training Program at Your Institution

Concurrent Session 2

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Brief Abstract

This session examines how one institution developed an in-house Certification Program for online “Jedi” faculty. The program provides instructors with advanced LMS training, overviews of best practices in teaching online, and consultations with instructional designers as the faculty develop their own online course and move away from “The Dark Side”!


Daniel Hoppe, Jr. is the Director of the Distance Learning Institute (DLi) at Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) in Myrtle Beach, SC. Mr. Hoppe has spent the last 12+ years dedicated to best practices in distance education and online learning. His focus has been on driving faculty adoption, professional development, strategic planning, growth, and change management within higher education. In his current and former roles as a Senior Advisory Consultant with D2L and as the Dean of Distance Education at Mercy College of Ohio, Mr. Hoppe strategically grew access to technology and online learning while supporting the needs of online students and faculty. He has created new and exciting opportunities for faculty engagement and professional development to increase faculty awareness and technical abilities, focused on best practices in online teaching and learning. Mr. Hoppe holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toledo, a Master of Arts in Organizational Management and Strategic Planning from Spring Arbor University and is currently completing a Doctorate of Education in Leadership Studies at Bowling Green State University (ABD). Mr. Hoppe's dissertation research is focused around faculty readiness to teach online.
Alicia Ramberg serves as the Instructional Designer at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, SC.

Extended Abstract

Training faculty to teach online effectively can be a challenge for many reasons. First, many budgets are limited, leaving most professional development to be handled at the institutional level. Additionally, many faculty find themselves teaching online unexpectedly due to last-minute schedule changes, with little time to prepare for the transition from the classroom to the online environment.

Our institution has taken a proactive approach to educating faculty on best practices in teaching online. To “strike back” at these ongoing challenges with online teaching, we have developed a 9-month Distance Learning Certification training program, in which participants read about best practices in online learning, watch videos demonstrating these best practices, and develop an online course of their own. Their course development involves multiple consultations with an instructional designer and instructional technologist, who review the course and offer suggestions for improvement.

Applications for the certification training program are reviewed in August, and 10-15 participants—our padawans—are accepted for the year. Participants begin by completing a self-assessment to determine their ability to teach online. They then participate in a series of training, from watching videos, reading articles/blogs/websites, planning to develop their course, creating material for their course (lecture videos, etc.), and discussing their experiences with their classmates.

After they complete the training, participants focus heavily on course development, meeting with an instructional designer and/or instructional technologist a minimum of three times until the course receives final approval from the consultants. Participants then present their course to the class/cohort, pointing out what specifically from their “Jedi” training they incorporated into their course and what information they found most helpful throughout the process. This allows for a “share and learn” type session, where participants learn a few final “tips and tricks” from their classmates.

In this session, we will present an overview of the stages of the training program and explain our process of selecting applicants, developing training materials, and hosting a “graduation” ceremony for each cohort. Presentation slides will be used during the presentation and available to attendees through the conference website. Attendees will learn how to provide training to online faculty by using in-house and free resources, in order to improve the overall quality of online courses.

We will begin our session with a Kahoot game to engage attendees; specifically, the session will be broken down as follows:

10 minutes: Introductions and Kahoot

25 minutes: Overview of Training Program and How It Was Developed

10 minutes: Discussion & Questions