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No Two Snowflakes are Alike: Implementing a Robust Continuum of Faculty Training and Support

Sherri N Braxton-Lieber (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 12:45pm
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 2

This presentation shares the model implemented at UMBC to address faculty preferences in engaging in training and support related to instructional technology and course design.

Extended Abstract

Goal: The goal of this presentation is to demonstrate how a flexible and scalable support model can be developed to meet the training needs of faculty on the full spectrum of delivery models including hybrid and fully online instruction.

Presentation Description:

This presentation will provide an overview of UMBC's current faculty support model to address the various learning styles and preferred training delivery modes of faculty offering courses ranging from traditional, face-to-face to hybrid and fully online courses. Plans for future improvements will be discussed, and the audience will be given both the opportunity to share strategies and best practices used at their institutions and time for Q&A.

In Fall 2014, UMBC had a student body of 13,979 and faculty body comprised of 501 full-time and 258 part-time faculty. There is a single office, Instructional Technology & New Media (ITNM) within the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), which supports faculty in their use of instructional technology in their courses. The staff supporting these initiatives includes 3 instructional technology specialists, 1 director of instructional technology, 2 full time staff at the Technology Support Center (TSC) who oversee a student workforce at the help desk, and 1 assistant vice president.

In order to be effective in this support, ITNM worked diligently to create scalable solutions while still offering individualized support when required.
As a result, we've implemented a continuum of support for faculty that ranges from self-paced online help in the form of Frequently Asked Question wiki called UMBC FAQs, to regularly scheduled face-to-face and virtual training sessions to a trouble ticket submission system to our TSC that can, if necessary, result in one-on-one consultations.

The first line of support for all faculty is the UMBC FAQs. These FAQs are keyword searchable and are organized by collection, one of which is Computing and Technology. Within that area, faculty and students can find answers to questions related to various technologies used in and out of the classroom to support instruction. FAQ articles include a "Tell me" section that provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete a certain task or solve a particular problem. Some FAQ articles also provide a "Show Me" section where a screencast demonstrates the exact steps required to achieve a specific goal. From within each FAQ, users can provide feedback including how an article with an error can be corrected or a new article topic can be suggested. If users still need additional help after reviewing the FAQ content, they can request additional help from that page, which will take them to the RT ticketing system to request help from the TSC, or help desk.

The help desk addresses tier 1 tickets and routes the more complex issues to the appropriate office within DoIT. Our team of instructional technology specialists addresses any tier 2 or higher tickets related to instructional technology and online learning. That support may take many forms: referral to the appropriate FAQ, telephone conversation, virtual session, face-to-face session, and/or screencast-based support. Faculty who prefer to bypass the technology-based support process can set up individual consults directly with one of our instructional technology specialists.

An important aspect of our faculty support model is our scheduled training opportunities and lunchtime sessions. Our team creates a semester long training calendar each term that covers a wide range of topics including the various features of Blackboard including the mobile Blackboard App, best practices for assessing learners, creating screencasts, student response systems ("clickers"), and reusing and recycling course content. Our instructional technologists also hold open training "office hours" which alternate biweekly from face-to-face to virtual delivery via Bb Collaborate. Our lunchtime sessions provide faculty with opportunity to hear about and see demonstrations of instructional technology at work and best practices for implementation. Topics include using iPads in the classroom and learning about the similarities and differences in the various course delivery models and the integration of technology therein.

We keep our faculty informed of our support offerings using a number of strategies that include monthly or bi-monthly email updates and news articles related to topics of interest including a Technology of the Month. All of our news and events appear under the DoIT group area on our internal university portal, myUMBC.

For faculty specifically interested in delivering either a fully online or hybrid course specifically in the shortened winter and summer sessions, we offer what we call the Alternate Delivery Program. During the semester long program, faculty are assigned an instructional technologist to act as their ongoing consultant throughout the process. These faculty participants attend a two-day workshop and two milestone meetings during their development semester. Their efforts culminate in a QM review of their course by their instructional technologist and a presentation of their redesigned course by the faculty during an open session.

Evaluation is part of any good program, so evaluating our impact and reach is an important part of our work. This workshop will show how and where we gather and track data and use analytics related to our support model to inform and direct the continuous improvement of our approach.

While our current foundation of support is strong, we plan expand our range of faculty support options to include evolving our "Come and See/One and Done" face-to-face workshops into "Click and View" streaming workshop that can enable "Record and Replay" training options (workshop capture). We will also be exploring the creation of a summer institute enabling faculty to attend a comprehensive, concentrated session that covers many of our individual training session topics within one training program.

This workshop will demonstrate and explain how each support system is developed and maintained. The presenter will seek best practices used by other institutions represented in the audience and will address audience member questions. Anyone involved in providing faculty development support that must address instructional technology and course delivery strategies ranging from face-to-face to hybrid or fully online should attend. Slides, handouts, and weblinks will be provided during the presentation and posted on the conference web site.

Lead Presenter

With over 17 years of experience in traditional classroom instruction and adult education strategies grounded in instructional design models, Dr. Braxton-Lieber also brings over 14 years of experience using learning technologies in higher education settings and has extensive working knowledge of the WebCT, Blackboard, Angel, Sakai, Desire2Learn (D2L), and Webtycho learning management systems.

Dr. Braxton-Lieber is currently the Director of Instructional Technology at UMBC where she is responsible for leading the strategy for end-user support of instructional technologies at UMBC. This includes online, hybrid and face-to-face technologies. Prior to this position, Dr. Braxton-Lieber served as the Director of Course Redesign at Bowie State University overseeing its first University System of Maryland Course Redesign activities. Prior to this position, as the Director of Distance Education within the Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals Program, Dr. Braxton-Lieber led the online development team in the design and implementation of courses while continuing to support the existing online programs, partnerships, and traditional classroom faculty engaged in supplementing their traditional courses with an online component. She served as the subject matter expert in the area of distance education and worked with faculty, chairs, and senior management to ensure quality was at the forefront of their online offerings, leading the program through their first Quality Matters course reviews and certifications. Prior to that role, she served as a Senior Instructional Designer to the program. As a Collegiate Associate Professor at the University of Maryland University College in the Computer Information Technology Program, Dr. Braxton-Lieber served as a lead faculty for the Common Exam Initiative, participated in the Common Syllabus Initiative and was actively involved in the Cross-Curricular Initiative, acting as a technology consultant to other disciplines in the university to ensure those disciplines effectively implemented technology-enabled instructional activities. She has previously served as a Distance Learning Subject Matter Expert, Program Manager, Training Manager and Principal Consultant within the government sector overseeing the design, development and execution of traditional/platform-based, web-based, hybrid, mobile and computer-based training and education initiatives including the implementation of formative and summative assessment and certification strategies. Dr. Braxton-Lieber was tenured as an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Bowie State University in 2003 where she served as the Computer Technology Program Coordinator and led the implementation of the 4 Computer Technology Tracks, developing the Internet Technology Track.

Dr. Braxton-Lieber holds a Doctor of Science in Computer Science with Minors in Educational Leadership and Management Science from the George Washington University. She also holds a Master of Science in Computer Science with a Math Minor from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science from Wake Forest University.