The Berkeley College Online Faculty Resource Center is a media-rich interactive site that provides faculty with comprehensive resources.
In our 2003 Faculty Survey, online faculty rated the Online Faculty Resource Center 4.24 out of 5 (5 being the highest)
faculty satisfaction: Despite user-friendly course management systems and the increasing technical expertise of faculty, colleges and universities still must confront the challenge of providing the best support for their online faculty. To this end colleges and universities have developed a variety of beginning, intermediate, and advanced workshops. These workshops, which can be scheduled for several hours, for a full day, for several days, and often as weekend retreats, are time consuming for the faculty involved. In addition to workshops, walk-in, all-day open labs have become popular. Peer groups and mentoring are also frequently utilized. All of these methods are effective; however busy faculty still must work around workshop, lab, and group schedules. Faculty members today are accustomed to traveling the "Information Superhighway" to locate information quickly and expediently. Many professors do not want to wait for workshops, labs, group meetings, e-mails, or phone calls when they need information. They want the information in one place where they can access it directly and immediately at any time. This propensity of today's faculty to go directly to the Internet for information helped to convince Berkeley College that an anytime anywhere online faculty resource center, as convenient and available as the courses that online faculty teach, would serve the college well. As Coordinator of Online Faculty Support, who regularly offers workshops and open labs, I supplemented the usual established methods of support by developing an Online Faculty Resource Center that: - Provides pedagogical and technical directions for developing and modifying online courses. - Presents the practices and procedures unique to the college in an Online Faculty Handbook. - Allows online professors to share effective practices and discuss common challenges. - Creates a repository for model online courses. - Offers an actual course for new online faculty. - Allows online faculty to view the course for preparing new online students. - Fosters professional development by adding links to important distance learning sites, not only to keep online faculty current and up to date, but also to provide them with seminar and conference information for professional development. The Berkeley Collge Online Faculty Resource Center is a media-rich, all-inclusive, interactive web site that affords online faculty a one-stop online shopping center that is available whenever they need it. The Online Faculty Handbook, posted inside the Center, outlines Berkeley's online practices and procedures. Professors need pedagogical suggestions as they make the transition from classroom to distance learning. The basic syllabus remains the same to maintain the integrity and consistency of the curriculum; however, the medium is entirely different. Suggestions and examples of effective practices are explained and posted. Supplementary material is also posted. For example, an entire section listing companion websites and publishers is available on the Center. Examples of how to incorporate the material from these companion web sites to enhance online courses are also posted. On the technical side two types of directions are posted on the Center. Technical directions for developing and/or modifying an online course are posted in simple text with accompanying screen shots. They are printable and can provide online faculty with all the information they need. Best of all, they can be saved for future reference. Many professors like to download and save directions; other professors, however, prefer something faster, simpler, and viewable. We live in a very visual society; therefore, it was not long before these printable directions evolved into short, simple Camtasia tutorials that provide directions in a much more interesting format for those professors who want quick easy directions and prefer video over text. In addition to video, sound was also added to the Center. To make the Center more interesting and interactive, Wimba software, which includes voice authoring, voice discussion boards, and voice E-mail was added throughout the Center. Wimba voice authoring gives voice to the suggestions and directions throughout the course; Speech rather than text emphasizes important points. Wimba voice discussion boards allow all participants the opportunity to speak in their own voices and interact more effectively; Voice E-mail personalizes all e-mails. Faculty members often e-mail with questions, problems, or concerns. The Wimba E-mail function allows a more personalized way of answering these queries. Here in this Center it is possible to voice mail the coordinator and one's peers anytime with these questions, problems, or concerns. Wimba voice e-mail helps make the Center a more supportive environment. In addition to directions, it seemed important that online faculty have access to the work of their peers to see how to blend pedagogy with technology to produce a quality online course. Thus, thanks to the generosity of their online colleagues, new online professors are given the opportunity to view a variety of Berkeley online courses that are posted on the Center. Posted by discipline, these courses give new online faculty an idea of what can be accomplished in an online format and becomes helpful models for them. Additionally, online colleagues can easily be contacted for further information and suggestions. Mentoring activity can, therefore, take place online and obviates the need for on-site appointments and meetings. Moreover, even experienced online faculty can learn from each other by viewing their colleagues' courses. Online faculty have different teaching styles. Viewing the way others teach online has broadened the perspective of all online faculty. Practical experience is also provided in the Center. Since it helps to take a course before teaching a course, I developed a short online course for online faculty and added it to the Center. This simple two-week course provides faculty with distance learning information, as well as the opportunity to navigate successfully using all the functions of Berkeley's course management system. This very practical course, which is now mandatory for all new online professors, also gives them insight into what their students experience. In addition to seeing what their students are experiencing by taking a course, online faculty are able to access the mandated course for new online students, which is also posted on the Center. This course, required for all new online students, was developed so that students could make a successful transition to online learning. Professors can look at the course and make suggestions for future revisions. Their input has been invaluable both for students and online faculty. The Center seeks to provide all avenues possible to afford online faculty members a successful online teaching experience. Occasionally some professors will feel the need for on-site workshops and open labs. To accommodate these professors, a Workshop Sign-up form is incorporated into the course. Here professors can view upcoming workshops and open labs and register electronically. All of the distance learning forms required by the college are posted on the center. These are all downloadable and able to be sent electronically. An important element of the Center is the high level of interactivity that is found there. Most important is the fostering of the ongoing dialog of online colleagues sharing effective practices and discussing common challenges. Our Center's discussion board and group discussion board are the vehicles for discussions moderated by individual professors, forums for discipline specific groups, and lectures by invited guests. For example, our Director of Library Services appeared as a guest and gave faculty an overview of the databases available some tips on search techniques available through the online library. So successful have the discussion boards become that our Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs now posts her agenda and holds her online faculty meetings in the Online Faculty Resource Center. These convenient online faculty meetings are extremely well attended and discussions are archived. Furthermore, to keep online faculty current and up to date on a daily basis, a link to The Chronicle of Higher Education is posted every day on the Welcome Page. Here faculty can go to read the latest updates on Distance Learning. A Webliography of helpful distance learning links is also posted, not only for information purposes, but also as an aid to professional development. Here faculty can read about and register for important Distance Learning meetings and conventions. Finally, the Center uses the college's course management system. As online faculty navigate through the course using all the various functions, they learn the course management system. Since we have upgraded to a new version of our course management system this year, all faculty have the opportunity to use the new upgrade and practice using the new options. The Berkeley College Online Faculty Center is still very much a work in progress because it is responsive to the day-to-day needs of online faculty and cognizant of the advances in technology and the rapid growth of web-based learning. As we upgrade our course management system, adopt new multimedia to enhance our courses, create new paradigms, and communicate with each other, the Center will continue to be a very important source of faculty support.
Since this is one of the various methods used by the Coordinator of Online Faculty Support, no additional cost was incurred.
Dr. Mary Jane Clerkin, Coordinator of Online Faculty Support at Berkeley college presented Berkeley's Online Faculty Resource Center at a poster session at the Educause MidAtlantic Conference and at a panel presentation at the Syllabus conference in 2003.
At Berkeley College, busy online professors find a one-stop online faculty resource center a welcome addition to Berkeley's usual workshops and open labs.