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Archive for the ‘Online Education’ Category

8 things students wish more professors would do…

In this short video (5:12), University of Denver (DU) students share what they wish more professors would do by:

  • Providing constructive feedback and encouragement
  • Recognizing student differences
  • Giving students opportunities to lead
  • Assigning roles for group projects
  • Prioritizing students over grades
  • Sharing their syllabus in advance
  • Providing opportunities for students to get to know one another
  • Using Canvas more consistently

This is the first installment of several video clips we’ll be creating from student video interviews and a student panel organized by the Office of Teaching & Learning for DU’s Teaching & Learning Week.

Special thanks to Alex Martinez his awesome video recording and editing skills!

Improving Face-to-Face Pedagogy Through Faculty Development Programs for Online Learning

Poster Presentation –  2016 Quality Matters Conference in Portland, Oregon.

qmposter

Poster Objectives

  • Describe best practices for faculty development programs
  • Share how faculty development programs for online teaching impact face-to-face pedagogy.
  • Share research that describes how faculty development and teaching online has a positive impact on teaching and learning in all types of classrooms.
  • Describe the format and objectives of the Teaching Online Workshop and its impact on face-to-face teaching at the University of Denver.

The Problem

Historically, college faculty members learn how to teach based on how they were taught over their many years as students in a college classroom. Unfortunately, the “dominant paradigm for preparing colleges teachers has not, with few exceptions, included instruction about learning.”

According to Dr. Richard M. Felder, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering,

“College teaching may be the only skilled profession for which no preparation or training is provided or required. You get a Ph.D., join a faculty, they show you your office, and then tell you “By the way, you’re teaching 205 next semester. See you later.” The result is the consistent use of teaching techniques that have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective at promoting learning.”

Another outspoken critic about the lack of opportunities for college faculty to learn about teaching and learning is author and researcher, L. Dee Fink. Dr. Fink recently visited the University of Denver during our Teaching and Learning Week to talk about high impact teaching practices. During his session for administrators, he made it very clear why he believes it is no longer acceptable to NOT require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers.

Dr. Fink’s recommendation to our administrators was to make professional development about teaching and learning, the 4th obligation of faculty members, in addition to the traditional emphasis on research, teaching, and service. In Fink’s foreward to Davis and Arend’s Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning book, he bluntly states that the lack of emphasis on requiring higher education faculty members to know about proven strategies that promote learning is the “shame of higher education today.”

The Solution

According to John Sener, author of The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning and Teaching in a Screen-Captured World, online education has become a major “source of faculty development and rejuvenation in US higher education.” Online education requires that faculty change their approach to teaching. There is a growing body of evidence that faculty apply best practice about teaching online to the design and development of their face-to-face courses.

Poster Handout

Entire Poster – PDF version

 

The Future is Now! Is Higher Education Ready for the Role of Technology? #NETP

“When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices.” This quote is from the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) released by the U.S. Department of NETPCover2Education.  The plan is backed by research and emerging teaching practices. It includes excellent real-world examples and actionable recommendations about the role of technology in education. The plan is divided into the following sections:

  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Assessment
  • Infrastructure

Ready or not, here they come!

We’ve known for years that higher education faculty need to learn how to effectively infuse technology into their curriculum as technology usage grows in the K-12 environment.  I think we have finally reached the point where the majority of our incoming students have been actively using technology in their K-12 classrooms, and I’m concerned that many faculty are still unsure, or unwilling, to learn how technology can enhance student learning.  In my opinion, if we don’t prepare more faculty to expand their use of technology, our students will be short-changed and unprepared for the future.

Distance/Online and Blended Leading Tech and Teaching Innovation

One of the plan’s recommendations is to “develop a teaching force skilled in online and blended instruction.” I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation as I’ve seen first-hand how online and blended education drives technical innovation and supports effective teaching practices. Faculty development programs designed to prepare faculty to teach online not only expose faculty to new technologies, but these programs also expose faculty to innovative teaching practices. Technology and online/blended education are facilitating the legitimacy and acceptance of the critical role of faculty development in higher education. In my opinion, this is something that is long overdue.

Conclusion

The National Education Technology Plan is chocked full of great ideas and examples. The plan acknowledges that both K-12 and higher education still have a long way to go before fully leveraging the potential of technology to improve educational outcomes. I’m hopeful that both K-12 and higher education institutions will continue to explore ways technology can positively impact learning.  I plan to highlight some of the recommendations and highlights in a future post(s). I’m so glad I stumbled across the NETP!

Innovations in Teaching Webinar – #IHEteaching

collageComputersD2l

I’m always impressed by Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman’s candid depiction of the state of teaching and technology in higher education. As Inside Higher Ed’s editors, they provided an overview of why teaching means more than ever (about time!) in this one hour webinar about innovations in teaching. Here are my tweets from the webinar:

  • Agree that it is finally no longer acceptable to just be a content expert, “innovations in learning to teach” is critical to HE.
  • Faculty should be rewarded for innovative teaching & it needs to count towards promotion and tenure in research universities.
  • Agree that new modes of delivery and technology are having a positive impact on teaching innovation.
  • Agree that GREAT teaching is happening at all levels – not just elite institutions. Good teaching needs to be rewarded!
  • No innovation in higher education teaching is going to happen without faculty buy-in.
  • Learning to teach online is having a positive impact on the quality of teaching in ALL courses at DU. Teaching Online Workshop

Search #IHEteaching for more tweets. If you missed the webinar, I definitely recommend checking it out.

https://www.insidehighered.com/audio/2016/05/03/innovation-teaching

 

 

Faculty Development for Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Change?

How does teaching online influence a faculty member’s teaching and technology practices? I’ll be exploring this question during a presentation at the 2016 eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) conference called, “How Teaching Online Enhances Your Pedagogical Toolkit.”

One of the research studies that I’ll be sharing during my eLCC session is the title of this eLCC Conference Logo - What's in Your Toolkit?blog post, “Faculty Development for Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Change.” This article describes an action research study by Carol A. McQuiggan that was published in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks in March of 2012.

McQuiggan’s research questions for this study were:

  1. Which aspects of the professional development activities do faculty perceive as being most effective in helping them to reflect on and question their previously held assumptions and beliefs about teaching?
  2. Do faculty experience changes in their previously held assumptions and beliefs about teaching as a result of learning to teach online and, if so, how does transformative learning explain the changes?
  3. What impact does learning to teach online have on face-to-face teaching practices?

I’ve been very involved in faculty development for online teaching for over 16 years through the University of Denver’s Teaching Online Workshop.  I agree with McQuiggan and other researchers that teaching online can have a positive impact on face-to-face teaching practices. Faculty development designed to prepare faculty to teach online often allows faculty members an opportunity to reflect on their teaching practices, both online and in the classroom.

Interest and acceptance of faculty development has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade at the University of Denver as more and more instructors learn about course design and effective teaching practices through their participation in the Teaching Online Workshop.  In my opinion, technology and online education are responsible for helping to legitimize the role of faculty development in higher education as more and more faculty members’ develop online and hybrid courses.

McQuiggan’s observed that online teaching also caused a shift from teacher-centered to more learner-centered teaching with less reliance on lecture. She notes that faculty members also applied this learner-centered approach to their face-to-face classrooms. I strongly believe that teaching online is a catalyst for change in higher education that is long overdue! I’m looking forward to talking about this topic with my eLCC colleagues in April.

 

Why is it acceptable that most faculty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching?

Dr. L. Dee Fink was invited to be as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at the University of Denver’s Teaching & Learning Week last week. Dee is an author a nationally and internationally-recognized consultant on college teaching and faculty development.

Kathy and Dee Fink

Kathy Keairns w Dee Fink

As a long-time member of our Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL), I was familiar with Dee’s work and taxonomy of significant learning so I was very excited to meet him. However, I have to admit I was skeptical that we could find 30 faculty members willing to give up 3.5 hours to attend his workshop entitled, “Designing your Courses for Significant Learning.” I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong because the demand was so high for his workshop that we increased the capacity to 50 due to a growing wait list. His lunch keynote was capped at 110 and we were overcapacity for that too!

Although I did not attend his workshop, all of the feedback from faculty I spoke with was very complimentary and definitely worth the time. Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to attend Dee’s keynote, a special workshop he held for the administration, and small meetings with members of the OTL. Many of his ideas really resonated with me and shared my belief about the importance of providing faculty members with the professional development they need to be GREAT teachers.

Two questions we should ask all college faculty members as part of the evaluation process:

  1. What did I do this year to LEARN new ideas about teaching?
  2. What did I CHANGE this year to improve my teaching?

Most faulty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching. Why is it NOT acceptable to require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers?

All universities should Identify Campus-Wide Learning Outcomes

All universities and faculty need to:

  • Be Learner-Centered
  • Work on Continuous Improvement

5 High Impact Teaching Practices

  • Changing Students’ View of Learning
  • Learning Center Course Design
  • Team-Based Learning
  • Engage Students in Service – With Reflection
  • Be a Leader with your Students

Professional Development should be the 4th obligation of faculty members in addition to research, teaching, and service.

I barely touched the surface here of what I learned from Dee’s visit and I’ll be mulling it over a lot of over the next few months. Check out his latest book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences, An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. And if you are looking to bring in a speaker to your campus, I highly recommend Dr. L. Dee Fink!

FREE Webinar about supporting online adjunct faculty

Presenters: Russell Poulin and David Clinefelter

I attended a FREE online webinar today entitled, “Recruiting, Orienting & Supporting ONLINE Adjunct Faculty: A Survey of Practices” and I learned several things I feel compelled to share. The webinar was sponsored by The Learning House, Inc., and WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies).  I’ve highlighted some of the takeaways and more information below. I do wish we had the same data about full-time and tenure-track instructors who teach online.

Be careful about # of courses adjuncts can teach so it doesn’t lead to full-time equivalent.

Employment for online instruction is stable – little turnover per the data and demand for online adjuncts is growing.

Policies for formal evaluation
– Student evals – per term
– Supervisor – per term or once per year
– Peer reviews – very limited
– Some institutions have no policy for evaluation

Only 35% offered “required” instructor-led training before an adjunct can teach online.

Written policies for interactions with students (i.e., within a specific timeframe)?

– Posts a topic on message board
– Respond to posting
– Grade Assignments
– Respond to student email or inquiry (w/i specific timeframe)

Researchers were surprised that many institutions did not have any policies for interactions with students.

Institutions tend to use highly different philosophies for course design by adjuncts.

Pedagogical training is limited at many institutions.

Customized vs Master Course – need to pick one and stick to it based on institutional culture.

Recommendations

  1. Choose a model for course design and fully develop it.
  2. Set clear expectations for faculty engagement with students (create guidelines).
  3. Use best practices to select new adjunct faculty and then provide comprehensive training (is institutional training & support provided? list of cheating tools, students services, online pedagogy).
  4. Provide an ongoing system of professional development, training and performance review.
  5. Systematically include adjunct faculty in the life and governance of the college or university.
  6. Understand and address internal and external polices – Intellectual property, another caution to be careful of full-time status of adjuncts, academic integrity policies.

Finally, here is a list of the key findings from the report according to the Learning House website:

  •    One-size-fits-all policies are common. Policies that were designed for on-campus adjuncts were frequently applied to those who teach online, which can present challenges in the different modality.
  •    Adjuncts teaching online are often given responsibility and flexibility. Thirty-one percent of online adjunct faculty are often given responsibility for course design, and 21 percent of institutions allow online adjunct faculty the ability to totally customize the courses they teach.
  •    There are two approaches to how institutions have adjunct faculty develop online courses. Colleges and universities tend to fall into two camps, either using a “master course” philosophy (the institution develops the course) or “full development/customization” (the faculty member develops the course.
  •    Professional training and development are not guaranteed. Eighty-four percent of respondents reported high levels of technical and instructional design support, but most professional development and training requirements were offered face-to-face or on campus.
  •    Recruiting is the same for online and on-campus adjuncts. Online adjuncts are hired using the same advertising and screening methods used to hire on-campus adjuncts.

You can download the report on the Learning House website but you will need to provide your name and an email address to access the full report. Keep in mind that Learning House is a vendor and not a non-profit like WCET.

Thanks to WCET and Learning House for this FREE professional development webinar!

Faculty Development: Important Key to Online Learning Success

Babson recently released their 12th annual survey that tracks online education in the United States based on responses from over 2,800 CAO’s and data from IPEDS. As always, the release of this important online tracking survey has generated a lot of buzz and back-channel conversations. The Online Learning Consortium shared the survey with their members and invited us to share how our university is making online learning a success. I apologize in advance for the longer than usual post.

This blog post will highlight the University of Denver’s successful model for implementing online courses within our traditional undergraduate programs. Note that our definition of online/distance courses is a course in which “all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies.”

How the University of Denver (DU) is Making Online Learning a Success

DU Building

 The University of Denver, a private, residential university embraced online education a bit later than some of our competitors.  Like many other colleges and universities, distance and online education at DU was primarily housed in our professional and continuing education studies division, University College. Very few online courses were offered within our traditional academic degree programs until 2009 when we started an online learning initiative.

Fourteen full-time faculty members participated in a pilot project to explore the value of providing traditional undergraduate students the opportunity to take online courses. From the very beginning, we built a comprehensive faculty development component into the program. As a private, residential university, we knew we had to provide our online students with the same type of personalized learning experience that they were accustomed to in their on-campus classrooms.

The faculty members in the pilot participated in an intensive faculty development program called the Teaching Online Workshop (TOW). The workshop allows faculty members to experience online learning first-hand from the student perspective. They learn best practices for designing and facilitating online courses, all while developing their online course as part of the required workshop activities.

The vast majority of faculty members who participated in the pilot indicated that they felt that the faculty development activities were necessary for them to learn how to teach online, that the initial creation of an online course was time-consuming but that they would teach an online course again because of the generally positive outcomes they observed. The program has now expanded to include graduate level and hybrid courses.

Over 165 faculty members in disciplines from all areas of the university have completed the Teaching Online Workshop. Here’s what some of them said about their experience in the Teaching Online Workshop:

“Participating in the TOW helped me recognize what quality online learning looks like and changed my perception of online courses for the better. As a student in this online workshop, I was able to experience firsthand how thoughtful course design and judicious use of multimedia tools can come together to create a rich learning environment. Practically speaking, the TOW also provided a fantastic opportunity to develop a course with thoughtful feedback and ongoing support from the instructors and my colleagues. The TOW is a wonderful resource for any instructor who is new to online teaching.”
– Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

“While demanding, the Teaching Online Workshop is well worth the effort it takes. Beyond learning how to negotiate Canvas and being introduced to the Quality Matters Program for online course design, you receive astonishingly detailed feedback as you build your course from instructors who have terrific pedagogical instincts, who review your materials with tremendous care, and who offer invaluable suggestions and strategies for improvement.”
– Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Even some tenure-track faculty members with years of teaching experience who completed TOW reported that teaching online changed the way they teach their classroom-based courses. I’m sure this is not a surprise to many people still reading this post, and not unique to the University of Denver. Online learning and digital technologies are fueling pedagogical innovations which is also impacting student success in all college classrooms (online, hybrid, blended, flipped, face-to-face). As John Sener wrote in  The Seven Futures of American Education, “online education has driven pedagogical innovation.” And I’ve heard this over and over again, from multiple articles and research studies, but more importantly, from professors at DU and my colleagues in the eLearning Consortium of Colorado. I’m happy to report that DU’s Teaching Online Workshop is now required of faculty members who teach online courses within our traditional academic programs.

I appreciate all of the wonderful  research and professional development efforts by organizations such as BSRG, WCET, OLC, IHE, QM and other leaders in the online and distance education world. In the future, I hope more questions about faculty development will be included in research, surveys and discussions about online education.