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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Retooling Faculty Support and Development to Improve Student Success

Joel Whitesel (Ball State University, USA)
Staci Davis (Ball State University, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 11:45am
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 E3
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 11

At Ball State University, incorporating technology training with instructional design has required continuous improvement and a focus on student success to better support faculty

Extended Abstract

In 2012, Ball State University's technology trainers were physically moved into a new unit, the Integrated Learning Institute (iLearn), with the online and distance education instructional design team, in hopes the two groups could work collaboratively to provide a more comprehensive faculty support unit. The goal was ultimately to increase student success in online courses, however, in that first year processes changed very little, as neither group initially wanted to integrate their efforts. To evaluate the new unit's efforts, an examination of student satisfaction surveys, counts of faculty served, and evaluation of training topics pointed to a need for change as student success had not been impacted as positively as hoped.
The second iteration of this support team involved extensive collaboration between the two teams. Training was added as an integral part of the course development process, and instructional design best practices were incorporated into training. This approach had some positive benefits, specifically in terms of increasing the level of cooperation and coordination between the trainers and instructional designers. Additionally, attendance at workshops increased due to better timing of topics during the semester; however, an analysis of student success data again showed little improvement.
The latest round of our continuous improvement project has not been as intuitive as the first two. A major change has been a shift in focus from being efficient to being effective.
* Workshops have been reduced to a minimum in favor of creating a relationship based model of support.
* Faculty members are encouraged to drop in any time for consultation on pedagogy and problem solving. Appointments are recommended but not required for bigger issues.
* Training has been made available via self paced online modules, face to face, and via web conferencing tools.
* Training topics are adjusted based on student and faculty feedback.
* Instructional designers and technology trainers have been extensively cross trained.
* Use of project management software has proven time consuming but highly worthwhile.
* Every member of the team is expected to handle general issues, but have specialties.
In the first six months, drop-in assistance requests quadrupled the entire prior year's workshop attendance. Workshops were efficient, but facilitating a relationship between faculty and the support team was far more effective. Examination of student grade distributions and survey feedback has shown that technology was not the answer to many issues facing students, and faculty development has taken some new directions in response. The impact of training and development is measured in terms of student success. As relationships with faculty progress, it becomes possible to "close the loop" and integrate student course evaluations, student success, and faculty input into more prescriptive assistance for faculty.
Faculty recognition of team expertise and willingness to assist has opened new opportunities including becoming involved in student success initiatives, creating training modules for services like the career center, an increase in departments requiring their instructors work with the development team, and a new role in providing advice to IT on issues that impact academics. The seemingly less efficient process of making training available to faculty outside of workshops, and using data to drive training topics has led to a much higher campus profile for the faculty support team and opportunities to positively impact student success.
Attendees will discuss the impact of:
* Using data to drive change
* Measuring faculty development efforts by examining student success
* Empowering instructional designers and trainers to better support university initiatives
* The value of relationships in supporting faculty
* The need for flexibility and embracing change
* Continuous improvement's role in preparing for blended course support

Lead Presenter

Joel has worked in higher education for the past 24 years, beginning as a faculty member, then moving into administration of online and distance education courses. He is currently the Director of the Integrated Learning Institute, which supports faculty who wish to integrate technology and best practices into the design and delivery of online and blended courses.
His education is a combination of business and technology culminating in a PhD in Educational Technology. His primary interests are integrating student data and analytics information into the course design process and increasing engagement and student motivation in online and blended courses