Building capacity: A collaborative approach to developing technological fluencies in faculty members

Author Information
Dr. Ilana Bayer
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
McMaster University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

To meet the growing need for faculty development in the use of educational technologies, a learning technologies division - RIVET (Research, Instruction, InnoVation in Educational Technologies) - was created in the Program for Faculty Development (PFD), Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), at McMaster University. RIVET has two core members (Dr. Ilana Bayer, Director; Devon Mordell, Instructional Assistant) who together provide expertise in faculty development and educational technologies with a focus on health sciences education. RIVET promotes and supports the effective use of technology in the Faculty of Health Sciences' education programs through professional development opportunities, including workshops & lectures; consultations; online resources; design assistance and more.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Key challenges in developing technological fluencies in our Faculty include gaps in knowledge (e.g. appropriate selection and use of technologies for online learning), groups (e.g. diverse programs), geographical (e.g. multiple campuses) and cultural (e.g. resistance to adoption of emerging technologies). RIVET has worked to address these challenges through consultations (individual, group and program levels) as well as creation of custom faculty development sessions (e.g. engagement in a video conferencing environment).


Professional Development Sessions:

RIVET offers a range of educational opportunities that focus on technologies and teaching with technologies. The core faculty development sessions (face-to-face and online) are open to both faculty and staff within the Faculty of Health Sciences and include: 

1. Explore Technology - a lunchtime lecture series aimed at introducing technologies used in higher education

2. We Can Do It! Workshops - hands-on workshop series geared towards developing more advanced skills

3. Teaching with Technology - practical workshop series that combines technical skills with teaching principles

4. Friendly Chats - informal question and answer sessions on topics relevant to teaching with technology      


RIVET sessions are offered face-to-face and/or online. The sessions are also held at a variety of locations given that faculty members are geographically dispersed. In addition to its core offerings, RIVET offers custom workshops to small and large groups within the FHS. These workshops may be delivered for a specific program or for a group with a specific interest.




RIVET provides consultations on initiatives involving the use of technology (e.g. development of online anatomy site, lecture capture, online modules, multimedia elements to enhance course material, etc). Consultations are provided on individual, group and program levels.


Project Support:

RIVET provides assistance with the development of technology-related initiatives (e.g. creating online modules, online anatomy site) and works to build capacity in the faculty/staff involved with the initiative.



RIVET provides resources (e.g. online modules, links to relevant websites, etc) related to technology and teaching with technology.



RIVET collaborates with other units/divisions within the Faculty of Health Sciences (e.g. Computer Services Unit, Division of E-Learning Innovation) as well as with units within McMaster University (e.g. Centre for Leadership in Learning) to ensure that faculty receive the support that is needed for their technology-related initiatives. 


Advisory Committee:

RIVET is provided with guidance on its initiatives from the Learning Technologies Advisory Committee (LTAC) which is comprised of faculty and staff representatives from the across the Faculty of Health Sciences (e.g. Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery, Rehabilitation Sciences, etc).

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

RIVET has grown from a single lunch-time seminar series introducing faculty to educational technologies to a fully-functioning division within the Program for Faculty Development that offers faculty development sessions, consultations, project support, resources, acts a liaison with other technology-related units, and more.


RIVET works with and educates faculty and staff throughout the Faculty of Health Sciences and has been involved at the individual, group and program levels for a number of initiatives (e.g. consultations on the use of multimedia in the Nursing courses, faculty development for instructors delivering online courses for the new MSc. Health Sciences Education, development of an online geriatric certificate program, etc.).

RIVET's sessions are attended by faculty, staff, residents and graduate students - enabling RIVET to reach a broad spectrum of instructors throughout the Faculty.

RIVET is frequently sought out to provide custom workshops and consultations across the FHS.


How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty satisfaction - Faculty have responded favorably to RIVET's offerings, consultations and project support. This is evident in the growth of custom workshop requests, number of attendees at sessions, number of faculty that participate in more than one of RIVET's offerings, the growth of the workshop offerings, etc. The number of faculty continually seeking out consultation on projects and/or returning for additional projects has continued to grow. RIVET is frequently sought out due to word-of-mouth references. There has also been expansion of RIVET's impact within a program from initially starting with individual to small group consultations to program-wide initiatives.




Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Professional development sessions: Teaching spaces equipped with computers that have relevant programs installed and internet access, teaching computer and projector.

Project support: Computers installed with the relevant software programs. Recording equipment (e.g. microphones, digital audio recorder, video camera, etc), if required for the project.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The primary costs associated with this practice are the budget for faculty and staff salaries and office space, costs associated with software that is used (e.g. lecture capture software, authoring software for online modules) as well as hardware (e.g. computers, microphones, digital recorder, video camera).

Additional costs would be dependent on the web space, servers, and teaching spaces already available at each institution.

References, supporting documents: 

RIVET website:

RIVET resource website:

Program for Faculty Development website:

MacAnatomy (online anatomy site):

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Ilana Bayer
Email this contact: