Go Online on Your Timeline: Pick Your Pace Pedagogy
Concurrent Session 4
Our faculty training program was developed by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Shepherd University in West Virginia. Geared toward instructors at all experience levels (and all motivation levels), and designed to be highly flexible and adaptable, this six-module, no-cost training greatly fosters learner satisfaction, as well as wide-reaching access and scale. Assessment data gathered throughout the training help us reinforce a culture that values best practices in teaching and learning, as well as continuous improvement.
The “Go Online on Your Timeline: Pick Your Pace Pedagogy” (PPP) training program is the first of its kind at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. While this free and comprehensive training program has been evolving over the past five years, it wasn’t until Covid-19 and the months following, that the Center for Teaching and Learning team decided to “package” the experience in different ways in order to best suit the learning styles and schedules of our institution’s professors and working professionals.
Incorporating best practices from entities such as the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Quality Matters (QM), and the SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric (OSCQR), Shepherd’s PPP utilizes six learning modules that encompass learners’ most immediate needs at our institution including: Learning Management System (LMS) Immersion Training, Quality Course Design Training, Web 2.0 Tool Overviews, Community Building Exercises, Accessibility and Usability Training, and Exposure to the Latest Research in Online Learning.
As we moved from a “remote triage” implementation process in March and April, to quality practice development in May, we wanted to make sure all faculty at Shepherd University who chose to teach online in the fall 2020 semester had access to an effective training opportunity. Thus, we re-scaled our in-house training program to make it free of cost to learners, minimal in terms of time commitment, and high impact, even for those faculty who were very resistant to learning to teach online.
In order to best engage our learners, we developed three very different tracks of PPP. Our first track, “Beginner Rise and Shine” was scaled for faculty who felt uncomfortable with technology and online teaching as a whole. This course still contained six learning modules, but these modules were “stretched” over three weeks. This way, learners had more time to complete the exercises and plenty of opportunities to meet one-on-one with the dean or the information technology consultant via Zoom to work toward meeting the learning outcomes. Extra time was spent on tool mastery within the learning management system and key asynchronous skill-building activities such as screencasting, video recording, and effective and engaging discussion forum techniques.
Our second track was scaled for faculty members who felt comfortable with technology, but had never taught fully online and needed help molding their face-to-face course to that modality. We called this PPP track “Intermediate Intensive.” The same six modules were utilized, but condensed into one week’s time. Because these faculty members were comfortable with our learning management system and technology in general, we were able to share more in terms of web 2.0 tools and take deeper dives into the literature surrounding best practices with online teaching. We were also able to do more than skim the surface in terms of accessibility issues and 508 compliance- all very new to our campus.
Finally, for faculty who had already earned their online teaching certifications, we set up free 1.5 hour “Zoominars” throughout the month of July. These refresher courses were intended to help teachers enhance skills for online teaching and introduce them to new tools. Our “Zoominars” were led by the Shepherd University Library and Center for Teaching and Learning team and included sessions on “How to Host an Effective Zoom Meeting,” “Using Microsoft OneDrive,” “Using Microsoft Teams as an Alternative to Zoom,” “Using Google Forms,” “How to Use Test Proctoring Software,” “How to Set Up a Sakai-Savvy Test,” and “How to Make Your Online Course More Accessible and Usable.”
By allowing faculty to “pick their pace” and go online on their own timeline, we were able to improve and expand access for training to the point that nearly 100% of our full-time faculty members currently teaching online are now officially "certified" to do so. Furthermore, by “picking their pace,” faculty found the educational value of the experience to be very high impact.
Shepherd University is a small, public liberal arts university with roughly 3700 students and 150 full-time faculty members. Because we are located in a very financially depressed state with higher education budgets ever on the decline, we wanted to provide our teachers with an online training experience that was not only valuable and time efficient, but one that came at no cost to learners. Therefore, our training was provided absolutely free in order to ensure the greatest access and engagement with the opportunity. The only equipment needed by learners was working internet and a computer or tablet. A phone worked just as well since the program was delivered on our LMS, Sakai, which is mobile-friendly.
Our two main goals, in addition to achieving the learning objectives within each of the six modules was to make sure that 100% of learners in our training sessions, 1) set up courses that achieved all of the Specific Review Standards (SRS) on the Quality Matters Remote Checklist (QM), thereby receiving an online teaching certification through our Center for Teaching and Learning and, 2) found the course educationally valuable and satisfying.
This presentation will provide a detailed overview of the various modules and provide feedback from various participants. This training program can be replicated on any learning management system and the process is valuable for any institution looking to develop a no-cost training program, especially if you are short-staffed and are experiencing faculty resistance to or anxiety about online teaching.