Concierge Model Faculty Training and Online Course Design

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This session will present a developing model of individualized, one-on-one course consultation review and improvement for online programs. One on one course development between faculty and designers is emerging as the most effective method, but poses challenges for instructional design and faculty support services. This will be a facilitated discussion for all those involved in online course improvement.


Dr. David S. McCurry has worked in the United States and internationally for more than 35 years in the fields of information and communications technology in education, distance learning, media in education, extension communications, curriculum and materials development, teacher education, and faculty development. He worked for 18 years in African educational development as a Peace Corps volunteer leader, U.S. Information Agency/Fulbright lecturer, and senior consultant and interim chief of party for USAID and the Institute for International Research (now AIR). He spent eight years as a professor of education in the United States, achieving tenure and associate professor rank while directing Master of Education programs and electronic portfolio assessment in addition to regular teaching, research and advising duties. Dr. McCurry worked for Converse College as the director of distance education and is now the director of distance education at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Extended Abstract

The session will begin with a discussion of the role of the concierge, its origin and the intersection with support for faculty and course design. The discussion will move into a description of how this approach has been tapped by an Office of Distance Education to create an individualized consultation model for online course design and improvement. Recognizing that a unique blend of content, teaching style, and personality go into effective teaching in all classrooms, online and on-campus, a multi-stage process engages faculty in an intentional course appraisal/review and improvement cycle. The program uses a combination of “best practice” methods, while emphasizing unique and creative qualities of the course content and faculty expertise. Technological tools used to promote communication, collect and share information, document progress and evaluate effectiveness will be shared. Participants will be engaged in considering the overall design of the program, the theory guiding the personal and individual interactions for self-improvement, and the challenges that such an effort can create for trainers as well as instructors. Finally, while the “personal coaching” approach has many advantages it also poses challenges for distance learning and faculty support management and accountability. The session will close with group discussions of the challenges and the possibilities this concierge approach might hold for their own settings. The strategy is not discipline-specific and examples from diverse disciplines will be shared. The technology is simple and accessible regardless of institutional context. Course design for online teaching frequently follows general instructional design principles, often backward design, starting with learner outcomes and developing matching course goals and objectives. This approach often imposes a neutrality in consideration of individual teaching style and preference, and can overlook the importance of specific characteristics of the subject content itself. Faculty complaints in course design processes aimed at “moving face to face courses online” often center on the perceived loss of critical aspects of the face to face course in the transition. The described approach begins with a foundation of self-reflection, self-appraisal and careful consideration of content, teaching characteristics and personal history and approach. The instructional design staff work reflexively with the faculty member in designing the course based on matching important course elements with appropriate technologies as identified in the course appraisal process. The result is an organically designed course experience which leverages available technologies in service to the critical features of the faculty member’s course; preserving the individual essence and quality of the face to face experience. A range of androgogical concepts and learning theory, including Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, are applied in this model. Small group discussions will be used to engage participants in discussions of the challenges associated with the concierge approach and strategies for adapting this model to working with faculty on course design in their own institutional context. Groups will be invited to report out and contribute to a collaborative understanding of the approach, its possibilities and potential for ensuring that effective and personalized teaching style intersect with quality online course design.