Implementation Strategies for Co-Designing Professional Development: Rethinking Faculty and Instructional Designer Roles

Streamed Session Leadership

Brief Abstract

How can instructional designers and faculty experts in education work together to design faculty professional development for online/blended teaching that elevates pedagogical practices across all teaching modalities? Hear perspectives from across the university and gain ideas to develop partnerships for collaboration that elevate both instructional design and teaching pedagogy.


Dr. Zora Wolfe is an Associate Professor of Education, at Widener University (Chester, PA) where she primarily teaches in the K-12 Educational Leadership Program. Her current research focuses on how to develop and support productive learning communities, specifically in online and blended spaces, such as online and hybrid courses, and faculty and school-based professional development.
Devin Dodson is an experienced Instructional Designer at Widener University.

Extended Abstract

The Covid-19 Pandemic exposed the need for quality professional development in online teaching and learning for higher education faculty. And now, even as we are entering the “post-pandemic” era, it is more apparent that online delivery models will need to continue to grow to meet the needs of our diverse student population (Canty et al., 2020). This shift in education presents many transformational challenges for institutions in the ways in which they strategically plan for, develop, resource, and deliver education that meets the changing needs and preferences of today’s higher education students.

At our university, we recognized that to maintain the quality and rigor of our programs, it was imperative that even the blended and online portions of our programs also meet the high standards our students expect in the seated classroom.  However, in order to continue to incorporate and model best practices and innovative strategies in all aspects of our blended and online teaching and learning environments, we needed to provide appropriate support for faculty to develop and deliver instruction utilizing best practices and strategies. 

Within this context, we proposed utilizing a Community of Practice (CoP) model to bring a collaborative learning experience to extend across and bring together diverse groups of faculty, inspire cross-disciplinary faculty professional learning and development, and enable bottom-up change in an institution (Warr Pedersen, 2017). As such, we are developing and implementing a professional development series focused on online teaching and learning for interested faculty across the schools and colleges through an Online Teaching Fellows Program, which would lead to courses being designated as University Certified Online and Blended courses. 

A keystone for the Online Teaching Fellows Program is the facilitation of a professional learning community where there is discussion and cross-disciplinary collaboration across programs as we review our respective courses and develop a course improvement plan to implement best practices and strategies in online and blended learning environments. However, what is unique about our facilitation team is that we are utilizing a team of experts in online pedagogy as a partnership between the Instructional Design teams and faculty with expertise in online pedagogy through their education and research. This partnership highlights a collaboration between faculty and university faculty support systems to develop instruction that best meets the needs of our students.

This presentation will feature the different perspectives brought by the various members of the professional development partnership, specifically through their discussions about how to adapt the OLC scorecard to meet the needs of the university and shape the professional development sequence. The goal of the presentation is for participants to consider how Instructional Designers and faculty can partner together to influence pedagogical changes across a university system.  

To begin the session, we will provide a brief introduction to our roles and areas of expertise to set the stage for how our partnership came about. The university faculty of this team will highlight specific perspectives they bring to the partnership, and then the instructional designers will share their priorities and experiences. Utilizing the discussions around adapting the OLC scorecard as a concrete example, we will explore the tensions and challenges that needed to be navigated between the different perspectives, and how the collaboration functioned to help create an adapted tool that both reflected key instructional design components and also elevated strong teaching pedagogy across disciplines. We plan for this to be structured as a back-and-forth conversation between the presenters to illustrate the types of conversations that generated the synergy for the team.  

As part of the session, participants will be invited to identify their role within their organization’s structure, and then name the priorities and strengths they bring to a collaboration. In addition, participants will be guided through an exercise to begin generating names/offices/departments within their organizations that could bring additional perspectives and expertise to a partnership. Specific action steps will be generated so participants leave the session with ideas for how to develop partnerships across their institutions to strengthen teaching and learning in blended/online instructional learning environments and improve pedagogical practices within and across disciplines.