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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

The Blended Learning and Enhanced Learning Academies: A Faculty-Led Approach to Faculty Development

CarrieLynn Reinhard (Dominican University, USA)
Additional Authors
Anne Elsener (Dominican University, USA)
Jodi Cressman (Dominican University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2015 - 10:10am
Faculty Development & Student Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Innovation and Experimentation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Ballroom F
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Concurrent Session 5
Virtual Session
Best in Track

With the Teaching Innovation Academies, Dominican University adopted a faculty-led approach to support faculty development in preparing and implementing blended learning environments across the curriculum.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description and Goals:

Context. In 2012, Dominican Universitys President Donna Carroll challenged our Catholic liberal arts institution to develop more online, blended and enhanced learning environments for the universitys undergraduate and graduate schools. Following a task forces recommendations, the university created two faculty-led programs: the Blended Learning Academy (BLA) and the Enhanced Learning Academy (ELA), which support faculty to design and implement online, blended and enhanced courses.

This 50-minute presentation: introduces the reasons behind having faculty members lead these faculty development programs; discusses in detail how the Academies operate; and presents the initial successes of these Academies. This presentation will be structured as a module on the LMS used in the Academies: Canvas. The module will alternate between PowerPoint, video lecture, small group discussion prompts, a visualization activity, and a gallery walk activity. All learning activities in the module, as well as the method for delivering them, reflect the cohorts experience during an Academy.

Problem. The Academies were developed to create a critical mass of Dominican faculty who are prepared to teach in blended, online, and technology-enhanced formats. To help develop the faculty along these goals, Dominican University launched an initiative aimed at preparing faculty to: 1) deliver courses in blended formats and 2) use emerging technologies to enhance learning in the face-to-face classroom. Whereas typical technology bootcamp programs are delivered by staff experts with established answers, Dominicans Academies are co-led by two faculty members who use strategies of team-based learning to promote collaboration, community, and the discovery of new teaching ideas and tools along with the dissemination of existing best teaching strategies.

Approach. An Academy emphasizes collaboration, community, and the discovery of new ideas along with the dissemination of existing research and practices. The specific and somewhat unique Academy structure was conceived in response to faculty concerns that online and blended learning initiatives would develop through faculty leadership. The intention in the design was for the program go beyond just helping faculty apply existing tools to include promoting a sustainable culture of pedagogical innovation and reflection. Additionally, any courses redesigned for blended formats would prioritize and extend the strong tradition of relationship-centered teaching at Dominican. Academies are organized by format (e.g., blended, enhanced face-to-face), with participants applying principles of backwards design to create new courses or redesign previously taught ones. Working in teams, they offer and receive feedback along the way, helping one another learn and apply the knowledge and skills communicated in an Academy.

In the first week of BLA training, cohort members learn about course redesign in face-to-face sessions; the second week is delivered online via Canvas, giving participants first-hand experience of learning within an online environment. In subsequent weeks, the program involves regular meetings and culminates in a formal peer review of the fully redesigned course. The ELA consists of one week of face-to-face meetings in which faculty members practice using teaching technologies and learning activities that promote engaged learning. The program extends beyond this week to encourage the cohort to share their knowledge and skills with the larger faculty body through online blogging and face-to-face demonstrations. Faculty members can choose to attend either the BLA or ELA, depending on their individual needs, and they are allowed to attend both, if they need additional exposure to the techniques and technologies of the Academies.

Thus far there have been three Academies. The first BLA occurred in August, 2013, and the second was conducted in August, 2014. The first ELA was held in May, 2014. A third BLA is scheduled for May, 2015, and a second ELA is planned for August, 2015. At the time of this proposal, the call for participating in the Academies for this year has just been released. This presentation will consider the performances of the three BLAs and the one ELA in particular.

Results. The BLA and the ELA have provided intensive, collegial, and supportive development programs for 28 full-time and adjunct faculty members. Four faculty members have attended both a BLA and an ELA, and have agreed that doing so helped them further understand how to better incorporate these technologies into their courses. Thus far, the Academies have led to the design of 18 university courses that are delivered in blended modalities, with more courses having been significantly enhanced with teaching technologies. Furthermore, the three Academy cohorts have been sharing their newfound knowledge and skills with their colleagues, through formally organized interactive sessions and through informal assistance given to colleagues.

At the end of an Academy, cohorts complete an online questionnaire to share their perceptions of the Academy. According to these surveys, 88% of participants in the 2013 BLA cohort agreed the Academy was successful in helping them identify new teaching technologies, and 77% agreed the Academy helped them implement new approaches to course design; the numbers for the 2014 BLA cohort were 83% and 100%, respectively. From the 2014 ELA, 100% of participants agreed the Academy helped them use technologies for enhancing information delivery, engaging students, and assessing student learning. A follow-up evaluation for the 2013 BLA, administrated in the fall of 2014, suggests the cohort believed participating had led to becoming more comfortable using technology in their classrooms as well as improved student evaluations of the now blended courses.

The results thus far suggest the Academies have been successful at a) developing the facultys understanding of how to incorporate technologies in their courses, b) increasing the number of course offerings that involve more technologically enhanced learning environments, and, perhaps most importantly, c) improving the facultys confidence in experimenting with and evolving their course design and management to include new learning activities and technologies. While there is room for improvement, the Academies demonstrate the utility of having faculty work together to develop each others knowledge and skills and thereby help their students.

Lead Presenter

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard is an Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Dominican University; she also oversees the university's Social Media Minor. Her teaching specialties focus on digital communication technologies, including theoretical criticism and practice-based production. She completed a post-doctoral research project at Roskilde University in Denmark on virtual worlds. Her research focuses on how people make sense of their engagings with mediated content and each other various digital environments; she blogs about her research at http://playingwithresearch.com. She produces a biweekly podcast with her partner called The Pop Culture Lens (http://thepopculturelens.podbean.com) and is actively engaged in public dialogue on issues related to her field across numerous online platforms.