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Faculty Training and Development: Using the Model of Student Learning and Engagement in Online and Blended Courses

Deborah Mixson-Brookshire (Kennesaw State University, USA)
Additional Authors
Stephanie Foote (Kennesaw State University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 11:15am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 2

Faculty development is an integral part of growing distance education within your institution leading to successful programs and online/hybrid courses.

Extended Abstract

Regardless of institutional type, many colleges and universities recognize the need for continuous development opportunities that engage faculty in generating new ideas and approaches to teaching while enhancing existing skills. Given the role of faculty, it is important to continue to support them in their endeavors to grow as individuals and gain additional knowledge that might improve instruction in all types of classes including those delivered fully or partially online. Looking to expand distance education within the college, we decided to provide online programming to further faculty development and to encourage and support faculty who are willing to teach online or hybrid classes, or incorporate aspects of distance learning into existing face-to-face classes.
Because recent research has indicated some faculty are "more pessimistic than optimistic about online learning" (Allen, Seaman, Lederman, & Jaschik, 2012, p. 2), we decided to use a Model of Student Learning and Engagement in Online and Blended Courses (Foote & Mixson-Brookshire, 2014) as the foundation for the online faculty development program. The model was developed based on findings from a longitudinal study that involved a sample of first-year seminar instructors and students to determine the perceived impact of instructional tools used in blended and online seminars on student induction, learning, and engagement in the course. The model also incorporates aspects of and Kolb's theory of experiential learning (1984). Specifically, the following three dimensions in Kolb's cycle of learning (1984) were incorporated in the model: concrete experience, reflective observation, and active experimentation are used in the model. The model demonstrates the interaction students in the described with the content, peers, and the instructor, and demonstrates how the learning management system (LMS) facilitated engagement with aspects of the course.
For the purposes of the faculty development program described in this poster presentation, we adapted the model by placing "faculty" in the place of "student" and maintained the other components of the model. With these revisions, the model demonstrates faculty engagement through the development program and accounts for the role of interactions with peers (colleagues in the program), the faculty instructor or college distance learning director (responsible for delivering the faculty development program), and the types of learning (concrete experience, active experimentation, and reflective observation) that occur through the activities and assignments in the development program. By engaging faculty in a development program that was primarily delivered through the LMS and focused around the aspects of learning and engagement described in the model, faculty members were able to assume the role of a student. Participation in the development program provides faculty with an opportunity to expand their perceptions of student learning and engagement to examine these concepts through the use of various forms of technology that can be applied in online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes.
This poster presentation will include a summary of past and current efforts, over the last four years, at providing faculty development opportunities through distance education. Our current online programs are divided into modules to facilitate faculty engagement in professional development through the online environment in ways that are similar to online class instruction. The presentation will also describe how the faculty development program has evolved based on research and best practices culminating in the development of the existing program based on the previously described model. We will share the model and discuss how we have used it as a basis to plan and deliver faculty development, and as a result, we have been able to strategically align our course series/workshops with all of the elements of the model and provide an engaging experience for participants. In addition to sharing our model-based approach to creating a faculty development program, we will provide a sample of our workshops and course series, and describe strategies used to get faculty involved in the development program. Finally, we will share the faculty perspective on the experiences by several reflections from faculty about the experiences they had while participating in the development program.
The value of this shared professional development program and strategies could also be used for staff in institutions on an international scale, especially where similar institutions have some type of a learning management system/platform. This presentation will expose the participant to a college's effort to expand their distance education through engaged online professional development opportunities.

Lead Presenter

Professor Mixson-Brookshire has been teaching in the online
environment for several years, and has served as an online reviewer institutionally and nationally. She has developed hybrid and online undergraduate and graduate courses in various disciplines. She believes being involved in distance learning is an opportunity for faculty to enhance technology skills and expand teaching capabilities for students.
As University College's Distance Learning Director, Professor
Mixson-Brookshire leads workshops, discussions, and offers one
on one meetings for faculty to further develop their distance
learning efforts.