Ramping Up Skills to Meet the COVID Challenge: Lessons from an Online Teaching Training Program

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session Blended

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Brief Abstract

Responding to the spring COVID-19 shift to an all-virtual campus, our institution focused on quickly ramping up online teaching skills. This session shares design principles and lessons learned from a rapidly created summer online teaching training program.  Partnership between the academic technology team and faculty created enhanced readiness.



Dr. Nan Langowitz is Professor of Management at Babson College. She currently serves as the inaugural Faculty Director for Babson’s Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching. Her research examines entrepreneurial leadership and organizational innovation, focusing especially on women. Recent projects target leadership behaviors and organizational practices for driving innovation. From 2000 to 2007 she was the Founding Director of Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, the first comprehensive center dedicated to advancing women's entrepreneurial leadership and gender equality at a leading school of management. She was previously Associate Dean in the F.W. Olin Graduate School at Babson from 2013 to 2016. Her publications include numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters, research monographs, and cases. Professor Langowitz teaches leadership, organization behavior, professional development and managing diversity. She has over thirty years of experience in management pedagogy and curriculum innovation as well as executive education and coaching. Dr. Langowitz was the recipient of the Dean’s Teaching Award for the Graduate Program in 2009 and the Babson College Alumni Distinguished Faculty Leadership Award in 2010. In 2002, she was awarded the Abigail Adams Award by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, for outstanding commitment to the realization of equal political, economic, and social rights for women.
Eric currently holds the position as the Director of Academic Technologies at Babson College where he leads a team of instructional designers, instructional technologists, and graphic designers. His responsibilities for the group include strategic thinking and planning around curriculum and faculty research, creating content for blended and online learning, training faculty, coaching, and implementing innovative academic technologies. In addition to his work as Director of Academic Technologies, Eric is an adjunct instructor at Babson College, where he teaches web and user interface design. Before joining Babson College, he worked for a number of consulting and design firms, including Nextera Enterprises. Eric also co-founded the design firm Drive Thru Designs. Eric holds a BA in advertising and graphic design from Loyola University in Maryland. He is also a graduate of Babson College where he earned an MBA in the Spring of 2009. His postgraduate studies also include media theory at Emerson College.
At Babson College, I am responsible for leading innovation pilots related to academic technologies and providing support for stakeholders. My role includes researching, benchmarking, and documenting innovation tools, as well as training faculty and members of the Babson community. As a community leader, I have experience as a student advocate, mentor, and trainer, and have worked with students, parents, educators, and administration to promote online safety and raise awareness about cyberbullying. My role is to partner with students to educate them, their peers, and their parents on the importance of students’ online reputation – their Digital Footprint. I am a Certified Educator for Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) and was also the Massachusetts State Representative for The Bully Project (thebullyproject.com). I earned a Master's Degree in Training and Curriculum Development from Lesley University and BA Degree in English from Merrimack College.
Alisa comes to academia after more than a decade of finance and entrepreneurship experience. Her goal is to help students, entrepreneurs and their ventures understand who they are and how it impacts their decisions and outcomes so that they can develop into and effectively communicate who they want to be. As such, her research centers on venture identity development, traditional and social media impact, communication and discourse analysis, and legitimacy and financing acquisition. Her professional career spans private equity investment, hedge fund trading, real estate financing, and business intelligence systems design and product management. Alisa's entrepreneurial experience ranges from building ventures in the peer-to-peer to business software spaces. As an entrepreneur, Alisa was featured on CNN, TechCrunch, Forbes, etc. Alisa holds a Ph.D. from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University as well as an M.B.A. and B.S.B.A from Babson College.
Robert F. Halsey is Professor of Accounting at Babson College. He received his MBA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to obtaining his PhD he worked as the chief financial officer (CFO) of a privately held retailing and manufacturing company and as the vice president and manager of the commercial lending division of a large bank. Professor Halsey teaches courses in financial and managerial accounting at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, including a popular course in financial statement analysis for second year MBA students. He has also taught numerous executive education courses for large multinational companies through Babson’s school of Executive Education as well as for a number of stock brokerage firms in the Boston area. He is regarded as an innovative teacher and has been recognized for outstanding teaching at both the University of Wisconsin and Babson College. Professor Halsey co‑authors Financial Accounting for MBAs and Advanced Accounting, both published by Cambridge Business Publishers. Professor Halsey’s research interests are in the area of financial reporting, including firm valuation, financial statement analysis, and disclosure issues.

Extended Abstract

In response to COVID-19 our institution announced a shift to virtual campus one week prior to our scheduled spring break, asking students not to return to campus and faculty to pivot all course teaching to fully online.  As we considered the implications ahead, we quickly realized the need for enhanced online teaching training.  While a level of expertise existed among some of our nearly 200 full time faculty, stop-gap training happened in order to facilitate the spring pivot.  At the same time, we planned to survey both students and faculty on their “spring pivot” experience in order to learn what else would need to be addressed to prepare for fall 2020.  The result was the OTTP program: a two-week online teaching training program, in a cohorted model by learning level, accompanied by a faculty and academic technology mentor team.  This program ran three times, training 276 individuals, including 90% of the full time faculty, a large proportion of the adjunct faculty, and staff with teaching or training roles. 

This session will share design principles and lessons learned.  Key design principles included: putting the participant in the role of a student; cohorting by learning level while creating opportunities for conversation across cohorts; a blended learning model that mixed synchronous and asynchronous learning activities; providing choices to allow customization to the participant’s needs; optional opportunities for peer learning conversations.  Key lessons learned included: the value of having a dedicated academic technology team; the benefit of teaching technology tools in connection with pedagogy; the power of peer-to-peer sharing; the ways in which training can create shared connection; the ways in which training can strengthen faculty-technologist relationships; and how to incentivize faculty participation without making training mandatory.  

The OTTP was sponsored by the Dean of the College who also participated in the program. The initiative enabled the acceleration of faculty development around online teaching skills, facilitating the institution’s ability to be responsive to the context of the global pandemic. 

This session will be presented by the program designers who also served as cohort mentors for the program.  In addition, we will hear the perspective of participants who are early and later career teachers.  Our goal for this session is to offer one model of how to create high-impact online teaching training and then open the discussion for consideration of other strategies. Attendees will be encouraged to consider how this model might be adapted for their own context and institutional needs.We plan to reserve plenty of time for questions and answers so that attendees can probe any details of interest and the presenters can offer suggestions for how others might implement future training of this kind.