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Implementing Training Options for Online Faculty At Texas State University: A Collaborative, Competency-Based Process

Joshua Book (Texas State University, USA)
Debbie Thorne (Texas State University, USA)
Matthew Eichler (Texas State University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 2:30pm
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 E4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 8

Texas State University recently implemented several training options for online faculty, which were developed through a collaborative process that involved faculty, staff, and administrators.

Extended Abstract

Context and Background:
Texas State University faculty and staff engaged in the OLC Quality Scorecard (QS) self-audit in 2012-2013, to assess the quality of the university's online programs using a respected approach and method, and in preparation for the university's Fifth-Year Interim Report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The QS review team made a number of recommendations for improvement in online education at Texas State, and these recommendations were then aligned with SACSCOC guidelines for online education. A major recommendation from the QS self-study was to require online faculty to receive appropriate training to teach online; this recommendation also aligns with SACSCOC and state requirements.

Online course offerings at Texas State have accounted for less than 10% of semester credit hours but are growing. With a relatively small instructional technologies division and ever increasing online course offerings, Texas State faced the problem of scale in ensuring its online faculty members received appropriate training and thus in ensuring the continued high quality of all online course offerings. Since Texas State is an institution with heritage in teaching and a faculty-driven governance and curriculum model, collaboration with faculty was also important in the process of establishing specific training requirements, to support continued faculty satisfaction.

Approach and Solution:
Faculty, staff, and administrators who comprise the university's Distance and Extended Learning Steering Committee used a collaborative approach in defining online faculty training requirements, as follows. The university funded additional instructional designers to increase faculty access to on-campus training through the instructional technologies division. To further address the problem of scale (providing access to training for all faculty who need training), the Steering Committee also approved, and the university provided funding to support, options for faculty training offered by respected external organizations; these training options include OLC's Online Teaching Certificate and Advanced Teaching Certificate, as well as Quality Matters' (QM's) Designing and Improving Your Online or Blended Course. The Steering Committee approved these external options because Texas State online faculty who had completed prior training through OLC programs or QM courses had provided their assessments and recommendations of these programs as viable, high-quality training options. In addition, because of faculty recommendations and feedback, the Committee approved a competency-based, self-certification option, for faculty who can demonstrate alternative training or qualifications to teach online.

The approved number of options for faculty training help the university to ensure it has highly qualified online faculty, while supporting the OLC pillar of faculty satisfaction by providing faculty with several choices for training and demonstrating competence. The Steering Committee and the university will continue to assess faculty training options and to collect feedback and data from faculty who receive training. Going forward, the faculty self-certification option especially continues to evolve and improve, based on suggestions and input from instructional designers and faculty involved in the process.

Who Will Benefit from this Session:
Online faculty, institutional administrators, and program staff who are invested in ensuring faculty receive quality training to teach online will benefit from this session. This session will also provide tips to distance education faculty and staff who are interested in achieving program improvement through collaboration.

Session Outcomes:

After this session participants will be able to do the following:

* Appreciate the value of collaboration with faculty in implementing program improvements.
* Identify potential areas of collaboration or improvement in their own institutions' processes, based on the discussion of Texas State's strategies.
* Gain ideas for implementation of specific recommendations from the OLC Quality Scorecard.
* Understand some additional, high-quality options for faculty training to teach online.
* Identify strengths and weaknesses in Texas State's process and options for faculty development for online teaching.

Presentation Session:
This session will be interactive, while explaining the collaborative implementation at Texas State of a specific recommendation from the Quality Scorecard self-study. We will share feedback from our own faculty on the approved options and will discuss how the options continue to evolve, based on input, surveys, and data from involved stakeholders. We will welcome questions from attendees and look forward to discussing our own process and how other institutions have used collaborative processes to implement programmatic improvements.

Materials to be Provided:
Quality Scorecard recommendations for faculty training
Texas State options for faculty development
Faculty Alternative Documentation, used for faculty self- demonstration of competence

Lead Presenter

Joshua Book is the Assistant Director of the Office of Distance and Extended Learning at Texas State University. He has worked in distance education course and program development since 2003.

Debbie Thorne is the associate vice president for academic affairs at Texas State University and includes distance learning, university curriculum, and international affairs in her portfolio of responsibilities.

Matthew Eichler is assistant professor of Occupational, Workforce, and Leadership Studies at Texas State University. He also serves as chair of the university's Distance and Extended Learning Steering Committee.