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A Tiered Approach to Faculty Development for Shared Degree Programs

Jacqueline Ritzko (Penn State University, USA)
Amy Roche (Penn State University & Northampton Community College, USA)
Julie E. Lang (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 10:15am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere D
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 6

Learn how geographically dispersed instructional designers collaborate to create innovative faculty development opportunities for those teaching online, blended, and resident based instruction in shared programs.

Extended Abstract

In 2014, the Pennsylvania State University launched the Campus Collaborative Programs (CCP) Initiative to:
- Strengthen student learning opportunities
- Improve collaboration and program operation
- Support development of campus specialization and leverage regional opportunities
- Enable development of faculty and student communities across campuses
- Leverage common resources, operations, and technologies to provide a consistently high quality learning environment

A main goal of the CCP is to lead efforts on offering academic programs in a shared structure across campuses and colleges. These shared degree programs offer new opportunities for students, who may not otherwise have had access to a larger student and faculty community. The CCP staff includes a Director of Collaborative Programs and two instructional designers.

Faculty development is one component of the CCP initiative. CCP staff have been charged with creating opportunities for faculty who teach in shared programs. This is problematic for campuses in particular, in that there is a real need, however there are a number of other units doing the same type of work. We do not want to duplicate work , but we do need to provide faculty development specific to faculty teaching in shared programs. The challenge is identifying where there are gaps while at the same time capitalizing on the resources that are already developed and working well. Many, but not all campuses, have local instructional design and faculty development support who are often able to work with the CCP staff to meet the needs of the program and campuses. In addition, the University has many central resources that are available to campuses.

Approach and Results:
A three-tiered faculty development plan for campus faculty involved in shared programs has been designed to maximize resources and capitalize on the skills and specialty of instructional designers in locations throughout the state while addressing gaps in offerings at each location.

The three tiers have been developed to build upon each other and each varies in terms of time commitment, format, audience, and outcomes.

Tier 1- Online Learning Courses for Shared Programs
PSU World Campus currently offers free online faculty development courses to all PSU faculty regardless of their home campus affiliation. These courses include cohort and individual learning modules, are offered online, and provide faculty with an experience similar to what their students experience as online learners. Feedback from past participants indicates that faculty find this incredibly helpful because they gain a new perspective in authoring and teaching in an online environment.

We are recommending that faculty involved with shared programs take a portion of these offerings, which are outlined below, with the goal of creating a common vocabulary and understanding of the online course environment.

OL 1800 - Accessibility of Online Learning
Consists of six scenarios that guide faculty through processes that support student accessibility to online learning.

OL 2000 - Effective Online Teaching
Four weeks of cohort-based learning where faculty experience the online classroom from the student perspective.

OL 2700 - Online Presence
Three weeks of cohort-based learning that builds on OL 2000 and focuses on "instructor presence" when teaching online.

Tier 2 - Shared Programs eLearning Seminars
The Shared Programs eLearning Seminars is a cohort based approach that builds upon the prior knowledge of Tier 1 that focused on teaching already existing online / blended courses. The purpose of the seminars is to give faculty the necessary skill-set to design and develop online / blended courses in an independent manner / with minimal instructional design support.

Synchronous sessions provide an opportunity for real-time collaboration / discussion across geographically dispersed campuses. This provides an additional opportunity for engaging with faculty in the same collaborative degree program, but not at the same geographic campus. Asynchronous components offer an opportunity to transform one particular course from a face-to-face environment to a online / blended modality. The added benefit is that faculty get an opportunity to experience an online synchronous component that is not part of Tier 1.

Each offering of the Shared Program eLearning Seminars will be tailored to fit the instructional design needs of all campuses involved in a specific shared academic degree program. The program capitalizes on existing campus programs that are similar to the Shared Programs eLearning Seminars as an option/alternative. We will explain how each offering will be tailored and give a scenario.

Tier 3 - REACH Initiative: Rethink, Engage, Align, Change
Penn State's Teaching and Learning with Technology unit (TLT) works to guide the University in the appropriate use of technology to enrich teaching and learning. TLT and the CCP staff have partnered to create the REACH Initiative, specifically geared towards faculty and courses in shared programs. The REACH Initiative is intended to take faculty from an independently made course to one that is developed with a support team. This team includes instructional designers, instructional technologists, research assistants and other faculty who work together through a 6 - 12 month course design/redesign process. The goal for this initiative is to produce a resident course that is rich in student engagement and interaction, effectively utilizes communication technologies to bridge the distance factor, and is shareable and reusable.

Session Information:
This session will focus on three components of a faculty development program that prepares faculty who are involved in creating and teaching courses in a shared academic program.

Attendees will:
- Learn about the analysis that was conducted of existing resources currently available across campus locations
- Become familiar with Shared Programs eLearning Seminars including the rationale of the program and the program it was modeled after.
- Learn about the REACH initiative and the components that make up the program
- Discuss strategies to produce outcomes superior to those achieved through traditional faculty development residential programs
- Share resources that could be modified by participants for faculty development initiatives

Lead Presenter

Jackie Ritzko is an Instructional Designer/ Program Coordinator at Penn State University. She has worked for Penn State in various positions for 25 years. For the past two years, she has focused on supporting shared academic degree programs by working with faculty on strategies and projects that increase student engagement in online and video-delivered courses. She recently became a program coordinator for Teaching and Learning with Technology initiatives that support campus innovations. Jackie has a Master of Education in Adult Education from Penn State. Her professional interests include emerging educational technology and faculty development.