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Empowering Online Teaching and Learning: Reflections on Implementing an Online Faculty Development Program

Carolyn Demefack (Montclair State University, USA)
Additional Authors
Itewari Ekpebu-Bryan (Montclair State University, USA)
Jinxia He (Montclair State University, USA)
Joe Russo (Montclair State University, USA)
Patrick Scioscia (Montclair State University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 2:45pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere A4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 3

A reflection on 3 years of implementing an online faculty development program focused on key pedagogical principles important for online teaching and learning.

Extended Abstract

This proposal reports a study of the fully online, four-week faculty teaching and development program "Empowering Online Teaching and Learning," at Montclair State University. The goal of this faculty development program is to introduce key pedagogical principles of online teaching and learning, an orientation to online best practices, and guidelines for integrating appropriate instructional technologies to facilitate online and hybrid teaching and learning.

To maintain an effective faculty development program (FDP), it is important to obtain faculty members' perspectives and feedback on what actually worked during the program. An online survey was developed and sent out to faculty when they completed the online training program, to obtain faculty feedback. In this presentation, we will share the results of the analysis of the data, the lessons we learned from our faculty development program as well as the areas identified in which our FDP can be improved during future offerings. We will also share key changes and considerations we applied based on the feedback.

Research Questions
1. Which part of the faculty development program activities do faculty perceive as being most effective in helping them prepare to teach online?
2. What did they like the most about the course?
3. What did they like the least about the course? And what recommendations do they have to improve our future courses?
4. How can we most effectively model online teaching, and best practices in online course design following the Quality Matters rubric?

Faculty development programs have become increasingly prevalent during recent years. Faculty will not intuitively know how to teach online. Based on Hampton, Morrow, Bechtel and Carroll (2004) faculty development involves reflection on teaching experience. Faculty need to be open to change and able to devote time and effort to seriously consider changes. Additionally, Sun, Finger & Chen (2008) note that in order to improve the effectiveness of faculty training programs, the design of the program should consider dispelling misconceptions on online education, helping faculty to implement new pedagogical strategies into their online and face-to-face courses, and continuously assess students perceptions of the online courses.

Online learning initiatives must be coupled with effective faculty development and ongoing faculty support. Other institutions may benefit from exposure to our approach and the use of a course structure like the one we have developed. Faculty development initiatives should also include a pedagogical focus and not rely on technical training exclusively.

In order to support and help faculty prepare for online teaching, Montclair State University launched a purely online course titled "Empowering Teaching Online and Learning" in the fall of 2012. Our faculty development program, was designed based on a framework of adult learning theories including Bloom's Taxonomy, Andragogy, Constructivist Theory, Online Community of Inquiry model, Project Based Learning, and Quality Matters. It was intended to provide participants opportunities to experience portions of the course as an online student. The course was initially created in Montclair State University's course management system, Blackboard, and was moved to Canvas, the new course management system during the fall of 2013. In the spring of 2015, the course was also offered in a hybrid format for the first time. This new delivery format introduced a variety of additional considerations which will be discussed.

Our presentation will reflect on Montclair State University's online program: Empowering Online Teaching and Learning, after three years of implementation. We will share the structure of this course and an analysis of faculty participants' feedback and participation from the past year. This four-week fully online course is structured with components necessary for quality online learning experiences for students. It models faculty presence and how to build student engagement through a variety of strategies. Faculty participants are also encouraged to work on a project, the design of their own course, to apply what is learned to their own practice.

This online course was delivered over the last three years in ten cohorts of 15-20 faculty each, and facilitated by instructional designers. This online pedagogical track provided opportunities for faculty to explore online learning from an online student's perspective. Faculty participants who successfully completed the course voluntarily were awarded a certificate of completion. No financial compensation was provided. The online course was far more successful than anticipated with a higher number of faculty registrants than expected. From the fall of 2012, when the first cohort was offered, through the spring of 2015, there have been approximately 272 faculty register for this program across colleges and departments.

A survey was sent out to all faculty participants at the end of each cohort offering. A full analysis of all the participant survey data and facilitator observations will be compiled. This survey evaluates faculty satisfaction and the overall experience of this online faculty development program. Specifically, it examines the course design, the structure, the time frame, the content relevance to their teaching practice, and their recommendations for future improvement. The data received is analyzed using SPSS, and the results provide critical ideas on how to help our faculty design and develop an online course, and to understand our course design process. More key take-aways will be included in the presentation as we include additional cohorts in our final analysis. Key issues of online faculty development programs will also be summarized and recommendations will be discussed to improve future faculty development programs.

Bloom. B.S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, WI. H. & Krathwohl, D. R (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals; Handbook I Cognitive Domain, New York, Longmans, Green & Co.

Hampton, S. E., Morrow, C. D., Bechtel, A., and Carroll, M. H. (2004) A Systematic, Hands-on, Reflective, and Effective (SHORE) Approach to Faculty Development for New and Seasoned Faculty. In: Wehlburg, C. M., and Chadwick-Blossey, S. (Eds.), To Improve the Academy, 22: Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 156-172

Quality Matters (2014) Annapolis, MD: Maryland Online

Sun, P., Tsai, R.J., Finger, G., Chen, Y., & Yeh, D (2008) What drives a successful e-learning? An empirical investigation of the critical factors influencing learner satisfaction. Computer & Education 50(4): 1183-1202.

Swan, K. (2003). Learning Effectiveness Online: What the Research Tells Us. In J. Bourne &J. C. Moore (Eds), Elements of Quality Online Education, Practice and Direction. Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education, 13-45.

Lead Presenter

Carolyn Demefack is a Senior Instructional Designer with Montclair State University. She has over ten years experience in the field of educational technology. She has partnered with educators and institutions to support reflective practice and professional development on 21st Century learning tools that impact innovative teaching and student learning. Her interests include the role of video models and case studies in learning and personal learning communities. Carolyn has a MA in Educational Communications and Technology from the NYU Steinhart School of Education.