I'd like to exchange ideas on what works and what doesn't work in regards to faculty development for online education. I'd also like to have a conversation with this community about how we all can be more procedural about collecting data to assess reactions to trainings, participant learning, and the impact on students. How are you all evaluating your faculty development strategies and what can we do to promote a rigorous evaluation of the faculty development models that are being used across SUNY institutions so that we may advance the field?

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I attended some good sessions at a nercomp conference last year where many presentation talked about faculty development, actually more about the process of working with a faculty member to design their first online course. There seemed to be three main components,

  • a face to face work shop with their peers to learn the technology component
  • An online 2 week course with their peers, to learn pedagogy, to see what it means to be an online student, and to see the technology that they learned about in their face to face workshop.
  • The third phase is a one on one meeting between the faculty and the ID, to really talk about the faculty's specific course, concerns they may have teaching online for the first time, and walk away with a game plane for online course development

Secondly, I was able to work with Rob Piorkowski during my sln internship, helping him inside the ID Certification course, and their was a discussion about faculty development. So I was lucky to be a fly on the wall during a conversation of many online teachers and ID's. Some of the takeaways from that discussion were:

  • get everyone involved in the training workshop and engage the audience. You can make the workshop engaging through visual aids, the use of humor, the use of audio, and to have the faculty complete activities.
  • Market the workshop correctly. If the faculty cannot see how the tool being taught at the workshop will help them they wont go. One idea was to market the faculty development workshop to solve a certain problem that you know a lot of the faculty are having.
  • Provide handouts after the workshop, so they can continue the workshop once it ends
  • Provide an online community space for the faculty to interact after the workshop, and in between face to face development session. Building a strong community, that interacts face to face and online, is very important for faculty development.
  • A strong strategy is to have veteran faculty come assist in faculty development workshops. The thinking is that faculty will be more open to try something that their colleagues have successfully used, instead of something recommended by an ID
  • and lunch helps :)

What doesn't work is:

  • Just talking, being the sage on the stage, and not engaging the faculty
  • Not have a clear direction to the presentation. Some of the worst conference sessons I have been to have been where I could not follow the presenters direction. I did not know where they were going. and they seemed to be all over the place.

Besides handing out surveys to the faculty attending development sessions, the online students to see how there experience was, I also like the idea of having a student focus group at the end of the semester, lead by an ID.

Thanks for sharing, Ian. I especially agree that a sense of community is critical to faculty development. This sense of community needs to be natural, though. If we create an online community space we need to give the faculty good reason to want to log-into that space... provide something that they want and need, so that real interaction occurs that is not contrived. I also agree that a strong strategy is to incorporate other faculty members in the development process. This is useful on many levels, I don't think I need to clarify.

If you have time to talk more about a student focus group that would be interesting, I think. Do you mean that you would contact a group of students that took an online course and ask questions about what seemed to work and didn't work for them? Do your students respond to an end-of-the-semester course evaluation? I think that if we can ask the right questions in an evaluation, and look at these responses along with success rates, and other factors, we might be able to get closer to evaluating the effectiveness of faculty training.

What do you think about creating a course evaluation for all students participating in a course that was recently developed by an instructor that had recently undergone training? A rambling run-on of a question but might provide some insight as to the effectiveness of training, especially if the questions are aligned correctly with the competencies of the training.

I have not done the focus groups, I heard about it in a presentation. The ID had the focus group without the faculty member to make the students feel more comfortable. The teacher asked for volunteers early on in the semester and gave bonus points to students who agreed to participate. The students were asked to talk about their experience in the course. The presentation was by SUNY Albany College of Pharmacy ID's. And  the focus group was part of the ID"s end of the semester course evaluation process.

I do like surveys as they get some good information. But I also like the idea of the focus group, where you can ask follow up questions and just have a deeper conversation.

As far a specific evaluation for students taking a recently developed course ,it is a great idea. My first thought though, is that we are working on have the end of semester course evals for all our online courses, so would your idea of a survey for recently developed courses be a second survey for students? Or would the students taking a newly developed online course just get some additional questions? I think the latter is a better idea, as students will stop assisting us if we ask too much.

Here is a follow up for you, do you survey online faculty at the end of the semester where they taught a recently developed course? Because they might see "success" from their students that we won't see in the numbers/grades, like aha moments. Or do you have a round table or faculty focus group to evaluate their first experience teaching online, in order to gauge the success of training?

I, too, like the idea of a focus group as it seems like a good way to get a deeper sense of the student experience. I couldn't pull something like that off here, since the majority of our students in our online programs are not local. Maybe via web conference, though. Surveys, while not being the most qualitative method, could at least help to collect data.

Yes, a few additional questions for students that are taking a course that is newly developed. Let's write those questions, Ian!

Is that follow-up question geared toward me? If so, the answer is "no" to both. Something to think about, though.

Good morning, all.   Perhaps because I have gone through faculty training at a number of different (SUNY, private and for-profit) institutions, I can share a somewhat comparative view of faculty training.   I have trained faculty and taught a graduate course in online teaching and learning for graduate education majors and it has been a learning experience.  Some of the things that I have learned:

I cannot speak of all SUNY campuses, but from my experiences SUNY has some of the poorer training for all of the hard work and time spent on it.  First, I find there is way too much emphasis on technology instead of pedagogy.  SUNY is the only school where I sat through multiple sessions of learning how to use technology.  In every other school, technology was learned by using an interactive online tutorial. Not once did I have a training session with a technology instructor.   My view is that when we have to spend so much time teaching technology, we might want to ask ourselves whether that technology is too far advanced or complicated that it might prohibit faculty from teaching online.  

Pedagogy is the emphasis of all other schools in which I have taken faculty development to teach online.  The emphasis was on how to interact with students and assess online learning and it involved not only a few sessions, but a semester/term long course which covered all aspects.

Another difference I have found is that in all other schools in which I have taught, after completing the pedagogy class, faculty must follow a well trained and highly successful faculty member through an entire course.  The mentor faculty member allows some participation and includes the trainee in all aspects of the course.  At the end of the training, the mentee is quite comfortable with the idea of teaching online.   In no other school did the faculty member take a few classes about what buttons to push to create a class, a few sessions about how to teach online and then go to a classroom to teach a class.  

I have been involved with technology for what seems like forever and have no fear of it, but many classroom faculty do not have the same feeling.  To me the greatest goal of faculty development should be making faculty comfortable.

When training faculty, I found that a one-on-one method worked best (I realize this is not always feasible).  This allowed me to sit with a faculty member at his or her computer, analyze what the faculty member wanted to do and focus only on those needs.  I could adapt to the faculty member's technology experience and offer suggestions about how to transition the work to the online format.  They were taught the basics (need to know) which is much less frightening that a new faculty member sitting in a workshop while an instructor goes through all of the bells and whistles of the technology.  

The best faculty development I have had did not focus on faculty and teaching online, but on student and learning online.  

Hi Gloria

I appreciate your contribution to this discussion. I, too, have been exposed to a variety of faculty development strategies, as I have taught online for a spectrum of institutions. I agree that a successful marriage of technology and pedagogy is critical, and that pedagogy should steer the boat for sure. Ongoing support, especially through relationship (mentoring or other such) is necessary and from my experience this occurs in SUNY, though perhaps not in a formalized way. Perhaps others will chime into this discussion and share their experiences and thoughts on this subject.

You conclude by stating that "The best faculty development I have had did not focus on faculty and teaching online, but on student and learning online." I agree that any and all of our strategies pertaining to online ed should be student-centered and when we prepare faculty to teach online they should consider the student experience first and foremost. When I think about faculty development, though, I think about the faculty members as students, since in this case they are in the position of learners. If we can take all of the benefits of our "student-centered" approaches and apply them to faculty development I think that we can make some effective progress in ensuring that the FD experience is successful.

Hi Gloria, that was some great insight.  The SUNY system is moving from one lms to another and open suny send someone to every physical SUNY campus that is converting to train the faculty how to use the technology. I wonder if they can use your insight to develop an online course to do this instead of travelling.

I am working on implementing policy in our online programs department to ensure faculty are qualified to teach online and the issue comes out, how do you work with faculty who do not want to train, they have done it their way for a few years and they are satisfied comfortable.

Also, I am curious how you get the faculty to mentor? Would a stipend be involved?

It does seem that the model you tell us about is producing very skilled online instructors.

Any recommendations on how to develop that model from the ground up at an institution who has not had a model before and with faculty that may be resistant?



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Created by Alexandra M. Pickett Aug 19, 2010 at 11:52am. Last updated by Alexandra M. Pickett Jun 23, 2015.


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