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Preparing Future Faculty for Online College Teaching At Duke University

Sophia Stone (Duke University, USA)
Additional Authors
Hugh Crumley (Duke University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 11:15am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 2

The Duke University Graduate School's Bass Online Apprenticeship program, a partnership with the Center for Instructional Technology provides Ph.D. students online college teaching experience.

Extended Abstract

Recognizing the need to help graduate students become knowledgeable in online college teaching the Duke University Graduate School's Bass Instructional Program, for PhD students, in partnership with the Duke Center for Instructional Technology (Duke CIT), began offering Online Apprentice Fellowships in Spring 2014. Online apprentices work for a semester term with Duke CIT on an online course project. Apprentices join a project team of Duke faculty, academic technology consultants, and online course associates to create global online learning experiences and to interact with learners from around the world.

Program Model
The program model includes participating in a semester long for-credit course: GS762: Online College Teaching, developing an online course module using the latest instructional technologies at Duke, serving as an online apprentice with Duke CIT, and completing a reflective blog post and presenting at the annual Duke CIT Showcase. We piloted the program in year 1, and are now moving into year 2 with this innovative program. Duke CIT developed a working plan that provided important practical online teaching experiences for the apprentices, as well as training and orientation for each online apprentice. As part of the fellowship students enroll in GS 762: Online College Teaching (a hybrid course) that covers instructional design and issues in online and hybrid higher education. Online apprentices are then placed for a semester term at Duke CIT to work on an online course project (either on Duke MOOCs or other online course project). The online apprentice gains valuable experience working with both Duke faculty and CIT consultants who have expertise in innovative teaching practices in online education.

About this session
This information session will present the program model, including the practical application of the program. Conference participants will learn the challenges faced for implementation, lessons learned from pilot year 1, and we will discuss potential changes, as well as new and emerging teaching competencies for consideration going forward. Evidence of demonstrated impact is available via qualitative data and will be shared with attendees. We will also showcase online courses projects the apprentices have completed, as well as their feedback, expectations, and insights about the program.

The audience will be engaged using poll everywhere and in small groups, as well as interactive Q & A. This is an opportunity for participants to learn about an innovative program model and to help shape its direction going forward.

How does the Duke Graduate School prepare future faculty for online college teaching? Many of Duke University's graduate students see online teaching as an inevitable part of their future academic world and have expressed interest in training that will allow them to understand online teaching technologies. To address this need an online apprenticeship program was implemented Spring 2014. The program model is founded on a blended course (GS762: Online College Teaching) that we developed and offered as an initial prerequisite for the apprenticeship. To develop online teaching competencies Ph.D. students complete the course, and are assigned to serve as online apprentices for a semester term with Duke CIT.

Students apply through the Graduate School's Bass Instructional Fellows program. The Duke CIT program manager assigns the apprentice to an online course project team. Apprentices gain practical course development and teaching experience (either on a MOOC, or other online project). The program goal is to involve apprentices in a variety of course development/implementation tasks, as well as online teaching tasks. Online apprentices receive training specifically for their project. This includes in-depth training on the Coursera MOOC toolkit, video editing software (Camtasia), WebEx,or other instructional technologies and online teaching tasks that accompany managing a global online course.

Online Apprentices are involved in a variety of tasks throughout the semester, such as assisting with video editing and uploading video lectures; building assessments based on content provided by the faculty member; moderating discussion forums, assisting with Google Hangouts or other real-time sessions with faculty and students, testing course materials before course launch, updating social media sites about the course, and working with the faculty member to edit course content. Throughout the apprenticeship, students reflect on and blog about their experiences, and may present on their apprenticeship at the Duke CIT Annual Showcase, held in the fall.

An important program component is the mentorship online apprentices receive as part of an individualized experience. Each online apprentice is provided with a customized learning experience that focuses on a specific area of interest in online teaching. By the time these Duke PhD students have completed both GS762: Online College Teaching, and the online apprenticeship with the Center for Instructional Technology they will be prepared to enter faculty positions with an understanding of online higher education as well as have a strong set of online teaching competencies.

The program is now entering its second pilot year and has a total of 12 participants from academic disciplines as diverse as biomedical engineering, statistics, ecology, and english. Evidence of impact is gathered through individual exit interviews with the apprentice, the faculty member, and the online courses project supervisor. Initial qualitative feedback points to a very positive and favorable apprenticeship experience. Feedback from faculty mentors indicates apprentices have been engaged in a range of online teaching tasks. Online apprentices have demonstrated competencies in the following areas: (1) effective online teaching practices (2) online course design and development (3) knowledge of innovative practices in online teaching and learning (4) knowledge of the online education landscape at Duke University, and (5) understanding the needs of a diverse and global learner population. They have worked on projects ranging from MOOCs to online courses with the Duke Continuing Education program.

The online apprenticeship with Duke CIT helps Ph.D. students develop online teaching competencies while gaining course design and development experience, adding an in-demand skill set to their portfolio that is transferable across disciplines and professions. We will continue providing this program in partnership with the graduate school for year 2, and plan to expand evidence of its impact by surveying program alumni in the coming year.

Lead Presenter

Sophia is a senior consultant working with Duke faculty on developing and implementing global online projects. She currently oversees projects affiliated with the Duke Global Health Institute, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Sophia collaborates with the Graduate School to prepare Ph.D. students for online college teaching and manages the Bass Online Apprenticeship program for the Center for Instructional Technology. She teaches GS762: Online College Teaching, and co-directs the Duke Distance Education Special Interest Group. Prior to joining Duke, Sophia was on the faculty at NC State University (College of Education) and was a research associate with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Sophia has developed and taught graduate online courses in instructional design, instructional technology, and training needs assessment. She holds a B.A. from McGill University, an M.S.L.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an M.Ed and Ed.D from North Carolina State University.