Faculty Development Paired with Instructional Designers - Let the Blended Learning Roll!

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

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Brief Abstract

How do you inspire faculty to move away from the traditional lecture toward offering high quality blended learning opportunities for their students?  Penn State University's Teaching and Learning with Technology unit has crafted a systemic approach with integrated change by combining targeted professional development with sustained instructional design support.


Dr. Stephanie Edel-Malizia is currently an Instructional Designer for Penn State University, with over 20 years of experience as a leader in instructional technology spanning the k-20 realm. She completed her Doctorate of Education at Delta State University with the dissertation Design and Implementation of Faculty Development for Student Required Internet Use. As a faculty member at Delta State, Dr. Malizia worked as an Instructional Designer and Instructor. Stephanie has ten years of experience as a Pennsylvania Department of Education certified Instructional Technology Specialist, working eight of those years as the Director of Instructional Media and Technology Services for a regional Educational Service Agency. She is also certified as a Superintendent of Schools and a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Educational Leadership Fellows program. Stephanie has taught graduate courses in instructional technology and pedagogy for Penn State DuBois, St. Bonaventure University, East Stroudsburg University, and Clarion University. Her conference presentations include the European Conference on E-Learning, Online Learning Consortium, Educause, The Teaching Professor Technology Conference and the International Society for Technology in Education.

Extended Abstract

Blended learning is fast becoming the preferred method for transforming residential courses from traditional lectures to engaging learning experiences.  

Finding ways to inspire faculty to move away from the typical residential class offering toward providing high quality blended learning opportunities for their students can be a challenge.  By embedding instructional designers into a blended faculty development program, Penn State University's Teaching and Learning with Technology unit offers a professional development program with integrated change that combines targeted professional development with sustained instructional design support.

The Penn State University Blended Learning Transformation (BlendLT) program began with a small cohort during the summer session of 2016 and conducted its’ second cohort offering during the fall semester of 2016. In this educational presentation we will:

  • Provide an overview of the BlendLT program

  • Describe in detail the BlendLT professional development course

  • Discuss the the role of the instructional designer in BlendLT

  • Share descriptive data and case based scenarios on where we are now

  • Provide lessons learned

  • Interject opportunities for the audience to engage through think-pair-share activities

BlendLT Program Overview

The Blended Learning Transformation Program offers full support for faculty who wish to redesign their existing residential instruction course to an innovative blended (face-to-face and online) format. This support includes three key areas:

•   faculty development

•   instructional design

•   assessment

In any endeavor to implement a new instructional strategy, it is imperative to have clear support from key organizational leadership. Penn State’s strategic plan includes leveraging digital capabilities for further impact in education and the use of blended learning designs in higher education is a current significant trend toward that goal.

The BlendLT program is a full engagement undertaking that supports faculty members’ efforts to redesign their course to a blended format. Three important elements support this engagement:  

•   Faculty Development: a formalized development program that models blended learning techniques for designing and delivering blended courses.

•   Instructional Design: substantive support which pairs faculty participants with an instructional designer throughout the professional development and course redesign process.

•   Assessment: resources and assistance in the assessment of the redesigned blended course to ensure solid measurement of learning outcomes.

The BlendLT program is a unique engagement that requires a level of commitment from the participating faculty to accomplish the goals of redesigning a course to a blended format. Each faculty member of the cohort selected for the BlendLT Program is required to:

  • Participate in the faculty development course

  • Partner with an instructional designer

  • Redesign an existing course to include elements of blended learning

  • Teach the redesigned blended learning course during the following semester

How are faculty selected to be a part of BlendLT?  To be considered for inclusion in the BlendLT program, faculty submit a proposal to be a part of the program cohort. Criteria for selection include: interest in redesigning a current residential course, previous experience in teaching the course, commitment to attending all BlendLT faculty development activities, offering the course in the following semester in a blended format,  and participating in the creation of publications or presentations to be shared with audiences in and outside Penn State.

The BlendLT Professional Development Course

This Penn State faculty development course is taught over eight weeks in a blended format and includes two face-to-face seminars (approximately four hours each), three synchronous online seminars (approximately two hours each), and individual and group asynchronous activities.  

The course is taught through Canvas and comprised of an orientation and five modules: 1. Introduction to Blended Learning, 2. Assessment and Student Centered Learning, 3. Teaching Strategies, Skills and Tools, 4. Quality Assurance, 5. Capstone.  Throughout the course, faculty complete scaffolded activities which lead to the creation of a blended course module, to be included in their blended course redesign.

Four kinds of engagement were intentionally built into the BlendLT faculty development experience: (1) Asynchronous online discussions based on assigned reading in the Essentials of Blended Learning book, (2) 2­hour synchronous online meetings that included guest speakers, (3) 4 to 6­ hour face­ to­ face meetings, and (4) one­-on­-one time with a designated instructional designer.

The Role of the Instructional Designer in BlendLT

Faculty are paired with an instructional designer to complete deliverables required for the redesigned course that will launch in the following semester. This process includes iterative meetings with instructional designers who serve as pedagogy and technology consultants, collaborating on project management, and working individually on course content and design elements.

Comments from faculty in cohort 1:

● “I had some sort of an idea of how to redesign my course before, but after the professional development course I realized that there was so much more to think about. I am very grateful to have worked with an Instructional Designer, I wonder how did I do it without one before.”

● “I had not read any literature discussing blended learning before entering this program. If I had designed this course without the program, I would have done it based on intuition or first available resources on a Google search. I may not have been confident enough to reduce in­ class time.”

● “I cannot find one least helpful thing about my ID. I have appreciated all her suggestions and work.”

● “There is so much to do that the time was too short. Maybe IDs could move in with us for the summer :)”

Descriptive Data and Case Based Scenarios

During the first cohort, five faculty participated in BlendLT and four instructional designers worked with those faculty.  During the second cohort, eight faculty were paired with five instructional designers.  

The BlendLT course for each cohort was designed and taught largely by the same instructional designers who were paired to work with the faculty.  

Participating faculty represent multiple colleges and campuses across the Penn State system and course sizes range from 10 students to over 60 students. All courses are undergraduate courses and range from required to elective courses.

Blended course redesigns to date range from being supplemental in nature to being fully blended with 50% or more of the course being taught online.

Case study examples of the progress we have made will be shared, including the specific blend of in-class and online instruction, student feedback, faculty perspectives, and instructional designers insights and observations.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned will include observations from faculty participants, instructional designers, BlendLT course facilitators, BlentLT assessment researchers, and BlendLT program administrators.