Ice Cream, 3D Pens, and Barbies...Oh My: The Makings of a Memorable Faculty Workshop on Teaching Presence

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

What do ice cream, 3D pens, & Barbies have in common? They are analogies used to engage faculty to improve teaching presence in online/blended courses, using innovative and memorable methods. Walk away from this interactive session with several customizable lessons to enrich faculty development & a greater understanding of teaching presence!


I am the Managing Instructional Designer at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY and adjunct instructor for Clarkson's Education Department. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Technical Communications, minor in Psychology, from Clarkson University and a Master of Education in Instructional Design from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. I have been working in online higher education for over 17 years and have experience as an Instructional Designer, Multimedia Instructional Designer, Instructional Systems Engineer, facilitator, and faculty member. Some areas of focus have been multimedia creation, accessibility, Quality Matters, project management, and faculty and staff professional development. I am certified in Accessible Information Technology, Quality Matters (QM) Master Reviewer, QM Face-to-Face Facilitator, and QM Online Facilitator and also am an OLC Online Facilitator.

Extended Abstract

According to Persico, Pozzi & Sarti (2010), online teaching presence “is the binding element in cultivating a learning community”. Through internal surveys that will be shared during this presentation, we have found that our online students highly value a relationship with their instructor(s), but feel that they aren’t getting enough. To improve this, our instructional design team was challenged to create a two-day workshop for both newer and seasoned faculty on taking their courses to the next level, with a large section specifically focused on teaching presence. We created a workshop that was innovative, hands-on, and memorable to keep faculty engaged and most likely to use the content we covered.

So, what do ice cream, 3D pens, & Barbie have in common and how do they relate to this presentation? They are fun and memorable analogies and activities we used during our workshop to teach faculty about teaching presence. Faculty engaged in conversation and activities using these objects and ideas to learn about immediacy behaviors, humanizing the online classroom, communication strategies, and effective feedback, all geared towards creating strong teaching presence. For example, since this particular group of faculty had an engineering background, using 3D pens was a fun way to teach them a lesson. Faculty were divided into teams and provided with instructions to create a specific object. Little did they know, each team received different instructions and upon showcasing their creations, realized just how important it is for them to provide their students with clear and detailed instructions during their communications. Lesson learned in a fun and memorable way!


This interactive presentation will detail several customizable lessons that you can use to enrich your faculty development in the area of teaching presence.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the relationship between the analogies presented and teaching presence.

  • Customize provided lessons to begin meaningful conversations with faculty about teaching presence.

  • Provide faculty with a list of methods they can use to improve their online teaching presence.

During the presentation part of this session, a breakdown of the workshop analogies and activities from our workshop will be detailed along with the survey results that caused us to create a workshop on teaching presence in the first place. We will engage in a hands-on activity designed to teach about humanizing a course from the faculty perspective. This activity can then be customized and mimicked in the online environment for both faculty and students.


During the reflection part of the session, participants will be guided to brainstorm customizations for the 3D pen lessons that have been presented and share their brainstorms in a Google doc for further discussion during the Q&A part of the session.


During the first five minutes of the Q&A part of the session, participants will participate in a guided discussion examining some of the customizations added to the Google doc during the reflection part of the session. The remaining five minutes will be left open for questions and/or comments.