5 Steps For Building A Sustainable Faculty Development Program

Concurrent Session 6 & 7 (combined)
Streamed Session Blended

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Brief Abstract

In this workshop, we will discuss a 5-step approach for developing a comprehensive and sustainable faculty development program for online and blended teaching. Participants will discuss how they plan to complete each step at their institutions, and the facilitator will provide specific and effective examples to supplement the conversation.

Extended Abstract

Faculty development and engagement continues to be an important topic of conversation, especially as institutions work to meet the needs of their students by increasing online and blended learning opportunities. However, building a comprehensive online and blended faculty development to support the development of rich online and blended learning experiences can be difficult for higher education teaching and learning professionals. How do you meet the needs of your stakeholders (e.g., instructors, students, institution)? How do you plan for things your stakeholders may not even see as a need yet? How do you include the right components in your approach to online and blended faculty development? How has the pandemic informed the way we provide faculty development?

In this workshop, we will discuss a 5-step approach for developing an effective, comprehensive faculty development program for online and blended teaching. This highly interactive workshop will begin with introductions and an overview of the session, and then we will dive into each individual step. For each step, the facilitator will pose specific questions and ask participants to reflect upon how they can answer them within the context of their own institutions. This reflection will take place using collaborative documents and breakout rooms, with each group having a chance to share out via chat to the larger group. After discussing each step as a large group, the facilitator will share the approaches that he’s taken at his institution.

Therefore, by the end of this session, participants should be able to:

  • Identify ways to gather needs from their campus stakeholders
  • Identify the role of trends in higher ed that affect programming
  • Determine the areas of focus they need to take at their institution
  • Articulate a plan for components of a faculty development program
  • Develop a plan for evaluating an effective faculty development program

In this workshop, we will focus on the five steps listed below:

Step 1: Explore your Institution

Knowing your institution’s needs, resources, and direction is vital to a successful online and blended faculty development program because it is necessary to contextualize the work of teaching in these modes. In particular, you will need to know what priorities lie at the heart of the institution and where these priorities are coming from. In addition, you must know your audience — in this case, instructors who teach online and blended courses.

Key questions for discussing Step 1 include:

  • How do you gather information about your institution?
  • What kinds of questions do you need to ask?
  • How do these needs translate into a faculty development program?
  • What are your institution’s priorities, and how do you determine them?
  • How do you determine the needs of the instructors?
  • How do you determine the needs of the students?

Step 2: Investigate Emerging Trends

Although institutions have their own cultures, needs, and priorities, they do not exist in a vacuum. Colleges and universities are heavily influenced by a number of factors, including a declining college-aged population, increased enrollments by working individuals, increasingly engaging technologies, and effective pedagogical innovations. Keeping in mind these trends is critical to developing a sustainable faculty development program for online and blended teaching, as such trends will inevitably affect institutional, instructor, and student needs. It is important to stay informed about these trends through a variety of avenues, including professional conferences and key publications, such as the ELI Key Issues in Teaching and Learning and the Horizon Report. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is an additional consideration for developing effective programming.

Key questions for discussing Step 2 include:

  • What do you think will be the biggest trends of the next 5 years?
  • How will these trends impact your institution?
  • How can you keep informed about ongoing trends?
  • How do you incorporate current research in your faculty development program?
  • How can you contribute to research in online learning?

Step 3: Identify your Focus Areas

After gathering data about your instructors, your institutions, and emerging trends, you’ll need to prioritize your goals and identify your focus areas.

Key questions for discussing Step 3 include:

  • What are the objectives of your faculty development program? How will you know if participants are meeting those objectives?
  • What are the main priorities for developing your faculty development based upon what you know about your instructors, their students, and the institution?
  • How will you make your faculty development flexible enough to meet the changing needs of your instructors, their students, and the institution?
  • How will projected future trends impact your areas of focus?

Step 4: Develop your Offerings Once you have laid the groundwork and done the necessary investigation, the challenging part begins: developing your offerings. Although this is typically a multi-year process, being strategic about priorities is key, especially when needing to meet a wide variety of campus needs. It is important that instructors get both the technological (e.g., how to upload content and facilitate interaction in the learning management system) and pedagogical (e.g., how to support collaborative and active learning online) support that they need. Many institutions offer a formalized Online and Blended Teaching Program, supplemental workshops, informal communities of practice, and certification programs to ensure quality.

Key questions for discussing Step 4 include:

  • What do instructors need to teach their first online course?
  • What will they need to help others as they progress in their teaching?
  • What technical skills do instructors need? • What are common components that institutions can include in their approaches to supporting online and blended instructors?
  • How can institutions support instructors throughout the lifecycle of their teaching?
  • What challenges arise when building a comprehensive vision?

Step 5: Evaluate your Program Evaluating a faculty development program for online and blended teaching is important to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your instructors, their students, and the institution. It is also vital for demonstrating the value of your center and your work. The evaluation process should be baked into the development process so that you are aware of how and when you will be gathering the necessary data to understand the impact of your program.

Key questions for discussing Step 5 include:

  • How do you plan to evaluate your program?
  • Who will be providing feedback about the program?
  • How often will you evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make the necessary changes?
  • How will you communicate the effectiveness of your program to campus stakeholders?