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A Multipronged Faculty Development Approach Used to Significantly Reorient Approaches to Digital Learning

Josh Herron (Anderson University, USA)
Benjamin Deaton (Anderson University, USA)
Andria Carpenter (Anderson University, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 10:45am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 6
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 10

A centralized, strategic, multi-pronged faculty development approach is credited with much of the shift in one institution's adoption of digital learning principles, pedagogy, and tools.

Extended Abstract

Presentation participants will be able identify potential faculty development strategies for digital learning, recognize the importance of strategic, multi-pronged approach, and evaluate the effectiveness of their development programs. The presentation will involve audience participation through interactive polls as they assess the fit of the various programs for their institution and offer insight from their own experiences.

Between 2008 and 2011, Anderson University (SC) took on two large digital learning tasks: a Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) and an increase in online and blended courses. These two occurrences and the support that followed were part of a Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) around digital learning that exists on the campus today (Rogers, 2003), eventually leading to recognition as an Apple Distinguished School and creation of the South Carolina Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning through grant funding.

Significant resources and personnel were set aside for faculty support and development to meet Rogers' (2003) criteria: the ability for experimentation and faculty development offerings that meet the diverse needs and desires of participants. The Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL) now houses the development and training for online, blended, and technology-enhanced courses and programs. Through its multi-pronged approach to faculty development, the CIDL has been able to support faculty from all across campus with a range of backgrounds and predispositions in order to lead a campus-wide shift towards digital learning. Figure 1 shows an overview of the faculty development and training programs our center offers, detailed in the next section.

CIDL Faculty Development Initiatives

Foulger and Williams (2007) noted that a one-time, surface approach to technology integration is ineffective and that a collaborative approach by instructors toward technology integration leads to deeper integration. Similar to Rogers, King (2002) stated, "transformational learning in the professional development context is further informed by recognizing the diverse needs, contexts, and abilities faculty bring to technology learning" (p. 87). To support its vision for a deep adoption and a transformative digital learning environment across the institution, the CIDL has developed five distinct programs described below that are designed to be collaborative and lead faculty toward a holistic view of the relationship among teaching, learning, and technology.

Mobile Learning Initiative

The Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) has received the most internal and external attention and had the widest institutional impact. Initially, the MLI served the Innovators and Early Adopters population among our faculty, but over the four years that the program has been active, we have included many faculty members beyond those segments (Rogers, 2003). At its core, the MLI is a teaching and learning initiative, not a technology initiative, with an overarching goal of enhancing teaching and learning across all academic areas of the institution. To support that goal, the CIDL provides faculty members with numerous opportunities to experiment with innovative technologies (including integrating iPads) and practices in the design of active, engaged learning experiences at the course or program level.

The MLI Teaching Fellows program is aimed at individual faculty who want to re-design a single course, and the MLI Program Innovators is designed for small teams of faculty who want to re-design a sequence of courses or an academic program. Participants attend a weeklong intensive session during the summer and receive ongoing support throughout the academic year.

Online and Blended Course Design Certification

The goal of the Online and Blended Course Design Certification program is to support development of high-quality, learner-centered online and blended courses. Along with asynchronous course work, faculty members participate in three face-to-face sessions and individual consultations with an instructional designer. This program is now beginning to reaching the Late Majority as they recognize the importance of this area on campus and in the higher education industry.

Online and Blended Teaching Certification

The Online and Blended Teaching Certification program is an asynchronous program uniquely designed for instructors teaching an already-developed course. The goal for participants is to incorporate best practices and tools to ensure engaged online courses. This program reaches across all segments of Rogers' adoption curve.
Teaching with Technology Workshops and Seminars

Throughout the academic year, our office also holds reoccurring and special topic workshops and seminars, including refresher workshops on teaching and online or blended course, general pedagogical workshops, LMS basics and advanced features, and digital learning tools workshops. This program reaches a wide variety of faculty participants, but it does not typically have those at the front or back end of Rogers' spectrum.

Faculty Learning Communities

The Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) program is a new CIDL offering that has allowed our center to engage faculty who may have not participated in one of our other programs or workshops. The goal for this program is to develop communities of inquiry around the impact of technology in teaching and learning.

Interestingly, this program reaches across the adoption spectrum as described by Rogers (2003) and includes many in the Laggard population. The FLC approach enables faculty to regularly meet with colleagues across the institution to explore digital learning in a format where they can engage on a conceptual level without specific commitments to change.

Effectiveness of Faculty Development Programs

The five programs described above have their goals measured by CIDL staff to determine the impact of the programs, including participation, satisfaction, and changes in teaching and learning at various levels. We carefully examine program attendance and success rates, data from surveys generated by our office, instructor evaluations, and accreditation data. Our presentation will discuss in more detail how these evaluation tools are used and how the current instances of our programs have evolved based on our data collection and analysis.

Foulger, T., & Williams, M.K. (2007). Filling the Gap with Technology Innovations: Standards, Curriculum, Collaboration, Success. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 23(3), 107-115.
King, K. (2002). A journey of transformation: A model of educators' learning experiences in educational technology. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the Adult Educational Research Conference. Raleigh, NC.
Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press.