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Kent State Online: Leveraging the Power of a Framework for Support of Online Course Development

Valerie Kelly (Kent State University, USA)
Jason Piatt (Kent 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 D
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 3

Discover an innovative online support model for faculty with Kent State's Design, Build, Teach framework

Extended Abstract


How do you provide support for faculty developing online courses in a large public university with over 30 online programs and certificates and enrollments upwards of 16,000 students taking at least one online course?

Kent State University is using a tiered support model with increasing levels of personalized attention. The first tier of support allows for self-guided course creation.

Our website dedicated to faculty is the essential foundation piece in this first tier of support. This intuitive framework for designing, building and teaching online courses gives faculty the fundamental tools to produce and deploy high-quality courses. The website provides faculty with a shared language, approach and expectations for online teaching at Kent State. The website also contains information for other, more personalized, support options to enhance the framework. This faculty focused website and straightforward framework form the basis of sustainable support model at Kent State.


Rapid growth in online learning enrollment and the complex nature of course design and development is putting a heavy burden on support units. Although enrollment is up, looming budget cuts, the need to update and create accessible course materials, and the vital need for technology-based professional development are just a few of the challenges facing institutions across the country. In this fluid landscape, institutions need to be smart and agile in how they develop and utilize scarce resources.

Kent State University has been creating web-based online courses for well over a decade. Often the decision to put a course online was done with little time for faculty training or outside assistance. Initially, online courses were made with little or no assistance from instructional designers or educational technologists. A consequence of this approach to developing online courses was that faculty were forced to focus on the necessary technologies to make the course run rather than being able to pursue a more thoughtful approach to the pedagogical considerations of this new medium.

One challenge in the emerging field of online teaching is to provide context and procedural knowledge for creating and delivering online courses without overwhelming faculty. It is important to give them information incrementally while helping them to keep their goals in mind.

The future of online course development must be pedagogically driven. Resources must be given to faculty to help them design good learning experiences specifically for the online environment.

How do you develop a resource that will help faculty succeed in moving to a new teaching environment without overwhelming them with information?


When providing information, it is important to know the audience. We tailored our website primarily to faculty just getting started developing or teaching online. The top level of information does not over inform or complicate the process. The flow of the site follows a simple framework of: Design, Build, and Teach. Information is provided about workshops and supplemental resources for those needing deeper information, but the focus of the site is on an easy-to-navigate process for creating and teaching an online course.

One of the considerations in providing a "self-service" resource to faculty was to make them aware of the essential pedagogical approach for online course development. This approach is integrated within our Design, Build, and Teach framework and incorporates essential standards of Quality Matters and the Backwards Design development model.

Previous versions of this website tried to address too many issues and too many people, seemingly leaving everyone unsatisfied. Feedback on our new website has been overwhelmingly positive.

The website provides a Blackboard Learn template to download and tutorials to accompany the template. Faculty can self-guide through their basic course development. This incremental approach allows faculty to gain confidence by seeing and doing while having pedagogical considerations brought to the forefront of their planning.


This session will address our thinking and planning about how best to deliver support for faculty as well as providing many course development and teaching tools and resources. We outline the basic framework we developed for our "self-serve" first tier of support and make the resources on the site available for use for a attendees.

We will show various tutorials and videos from our website. These resources have creative commons licenses and can be freely used by others. Our university Blackboard Learn template is also available for download (for institutions running Blackboard Learn 9.1).

Individual faculty who are developing and/or teaching online courses can use the site for their own use. The session will also be of interest to instructional designers and administrators who would like insights into our approach to supporting faculty.

Lead Presenter

Valerie Kelly is Executive Director of Kent State Online at Kent State University. She is involved with the creation and administration of the strategic initiatives for online learning. She directs of a team of instructional designers and educational technology designers who are working with faculty to create the next-generation of online learning at Kent State.
Valerie holds a Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management, and a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has worked in industry as a software help system designer, web designer and multimedia developer and in higher education as an instructional designer, online instructor, and administrator.