Empowering Faculty: Addressing the F-Words in Faculty Development

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session Blended Leadership Equity and Inclusion

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Failure, frustration, futility, forgetfulness; we’ll tackle these F-words typically associated with faculty development and brainstorm ways to turn them into terms of endearment. This presentation will begin with CSUCI’s unique Pathways approach to untethered faculty development, followed by facilitated consultancy groups aimed at crowdsourcing solutions to common/shared F-word challenges.


Kristi moved to Ventura County in 2011 to attend CSU Channel Islands; in the Spring of 2012 she began working as the Blended Learning Preparation Program (BLPP) student assistant under the leadership of Jill Leafstedt. She graduated in May 2013 and in September of that year transitioned into a position as the Junior Instructional Designer. In December 2015, she was hired as an Instructional Technologist/FIT Studio as part of the Teaching and Learning Innovations team. As of January 2018, she is the Instructional Technologist- Accessibility Lead and FIT Studio Coordinator for the team. In addition to her campus responsibilities, she finished her M.A. degree in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. She is a strong supporter of utilizing technology to meet the needs of a diverse student body and supporting faculty as they explore Teaching and Learning with technology. She is also passionate about #a11y and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Extended Abstract

Faculty Development can be a dirty word in education.  The term ‘Development’ implies deficit, delinquency, or deficiency.  Hardly glamourous or inspiring; especially when your target audience are highly educated professionals with the better part of a decade vested in becoming experts in their fields.  Couple ‘deficit driven’ marketing with demands by administration and students for digitally enhanced on-ground, blended, and online course offerings, and those of us in the business of ‘Faculty Development’ are likely to encounter a few F-Words:

  • Failure & Frustration: e.g., uncertainty and vulnerability ‘learning’ to teach in a new modality; when tools don’t work how they should; when unexpected snags occur resulting in a personal sense of failure;

  • Forgetfulness: e.g., the training was great!--but it was weeks ago…; how do I support my students?; did I include the directions correctly?

  • Finding time: e.g., the reality that learning how to teach online, and then planning and teaching online courses requires significant commitments of time; how can I add workshops and trainings on top of all that?

  • Futility: e.g., the sense that certain tools are great, “but not for me”; content expertise v. tool expertise   

What if instead of ‘development’ we emphasized ‘empowerment’?  Post-Secondary education is focused on student-centered teaching and learning, so why not take a faculty-centered approach when designing professional development? While faculty are content area experts, not all are comfortable with teaching with and through technology.  With faculty at differing technological readiness levels, a one-size-fits all approach excludes faculty at both ends of the spectrum - TechNO to Tech Savvy. Faculty interests, needs, and goals are as diverse as students; therefore opportunities to learn and grow need to be flexible and fluid. Besides, if faculty thrive, students and administration win!  

At CSUCI, Teaching and Learning Innovations (TLI) takes a unique pathways approach that untethers faculty from the time and place constraints of traditional faculty development and places them at the center, targeting F-words and eliminating them as barriers to iterative and innovative course design and facilitation.  We seek to empower faculty with learning pathways that support both agency and creativity.

Our unique, untethered pathways approach includes everything from just-in-time, high-touch support to self-paced untethered learning.  Our aim is to create inclusive entry points that allow all faculty to choose the path that fits their professional goals. Besides, if we really want to keep students at the center, we must inspire and empower those leading the learning.

This presentation will include an overview of scalable and sustainable Faculty Empowerment Programs and Pathways including:

  • In Person Workshops: ninety minutes with a TLI team member focused on a specific topic or idea and supplemented by a Google Doc support doc with directions. Participants are encouraged to bring a device and apply what is discussed to their courses and ask questions

  • 5-Day Online Workouts: a week-long facilitated experience around a specific topic such as accessibility, assessment & grading, and engagement. Each workout is created so that participants learn and/or experience something new in roughly twenty minutes a day. A digital badge is available for all participants who complete the outlined requirements.

  • Self-Paced Resources: multiple courses available within Canvas for those who prefer to learn at their own pace, or who are unable to attend in-person workshops due to their schedules. Each non-facilitated course focuses on different skill sets and provides learners with a digital badge upon completion. Current course offerings include Canvas 101 and Learning Online 101.

  • Online Teaching Preparation Program (OTPP): Through this six week experience faculty become online students immersed in a humanized facilitated digital learning environment.  Faculty are introduced to facilitation principles based on the Community of Inquiry Framework, while experiencing an engaged and interactive instructor and peer community.  

  • Blended Learning Preparation Program Institute (BLPP): Through a hybrid approach, faculty engage in both online and in person facilitated experiences.  Prior to meeting for a four day in person institute, faculty meet online in a 5 day course. Through a blended experience, faculty learn about design and facilitation of blended courses.  

  • Faculty Inquiry Projects (FIPS): are “faculty communities” focused on particular questions around big ideas. Faculty communities meet to discuss, problem solve, and share ideas focused on a set of questions that they agree to explore. Groups will meet 5 times throughout the semester either in-person or virtually via Zoom; schedules are set ahead of time and faculty apply to a particular group knowing that they are expected to attend at least 4 meetings. New FIPs with new topics begin each semester.

  • openCI Ambassadors: openCI is the CSUCI campus Affordable Learning Solutions effort focused on affordability, equity, and quality. The Ambassadors program is focused on OER in higher education and connections with the bookstore, library, basic needs, research assessing CI student textbook practices, conference presentations/sharing, and coordination with the broader CSU ALS meetings/conferences/webinars. It begins with completion of a five day workout before the first of a series of synchronous meetings.

  • Online and Blended Course Review: Current and prospective instructors of online and blended courses are invited to participate in one of three pathways for course review, in which a faculty colleague with training and experience in online course design and quality assurance conduct a thorough and/or targeted evaluation of an instructor’s online course using the CSU QLT instrument. Feedback includes the rubric with narrative comments, a detailed letter containing resources and steps for incorporating the feedback into future iterations of the course, and a professional letter from the Associate Vice Provost of Innovation and Faculty Development.

Q&A Group Consultancies

In place of traditional Question Answer Sessions, participants will be engaged in collegial discussions centered on an F-word of personal significance.  Using Poll Ninja, an interactive polling software, participants will be able to post F-Word concerns during the presentation.

During the discussion each presenter will facilitate a consultancy group.  Groups will break out based on the following F-Word Groups: fear & frustration, failure, futility, and finding time.  Participants will share scenarios and seek solutions. After the discussion, the group will reconvene to debrief and share takeaways from the session.

Following the session, consultancy suggestions and presentation resources will be shared publicly, creating a repository to fuel faculty empowerment beyond the scope of the conference.  Participants will leave this session with crowdsourced resources, solutions, and a stronger professional network.