Design4Online: Online Pedagogy Faculty Training Program

Author Information
Amy Oberfoell
Dan Dao
Nina Kim
Susan Bailey
Isandra Martinez-Marrero
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Iowa
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Design4Online (D4O) is a faculty training program developed by instructional designers at the University of Iowa, Distance and Online Education. The engaging, eight-week training program empowers instructors to collaborate, develop, and implement effective online courses. It assists instructors at all experience levels in designing or redesigning online courses. It creates a community of practice with the participating instructors and the instructional designers to foster continued learning, engagement, and support for successful online pedagogy. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected throughout the training program to guide the weekly training sessions and establish an overall evaluation that will direct improvements for future trainings.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Design4Online Faculty Training Program is the first of its kind on the University of Iowa. The program began with sending out a survey to all instructors at the University of Iowa to seek their input. Did instructors want training regarding online pedagogy, and if so what training did they seek, why did they seek it, and how could it best be delivered? Using the data results from this survey, a training was designed, developed, implemented and an evaluation process created called the Design4Online Training Program. Design4Online has three main components that encompass instructor learning, course development, and community building.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

There are six training topics dispersed throughout the eight-week training program: alignment, assessments, instructional strategies, engagement, course management, and course evaluation. Each training topic includes a three-hour, face-to-face training session and a two-week online module. The face-to-face training sessions implemented the explicit instruction, gradual release model “I Do, We Do, You Do” (Wheldall, Stephenson & Carter, 2014) to successfully engage and support the participants in the online training content. The online modules supplement the face-to-face training by providing the participants opportunities to dig deeper into the face-to-face module content, and to practice and apply the gained knowledge into individual, upcoming online course developments.
To assess the effectiveness of our training program, we created surveys implementing the adapted Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model (Praslova, 2010) in higher education. Using this model enabled us to analyze and evaluate training programs to help determine aptitude based on four levels of learning criteria: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. The surveys included a pre- and post-survey to assess the overall training program. We also created pre- and post-surveys to measure the face-to-face training as well as a post-survey to measure the online training. Along with the surveys, we also collected data from completed assignments. In conjunction with the quantitative data, we also gathered some qualitative data from interviews with the participants, and open-ended survey questions.
Below are examples of our overall pre- and post-program survey results. Each example includes the Kirkpatrick level as well as participants’ quotes:

Figure 1: Reaction (Pre and Post Survey)
Regarding the overall program, nine (out of eleven) participants stated that the training program was “extremely useful, engaging and intensive, and incredible.” Regarding the training content, six of the participants indicated that the training content and resources were very helpful. One of the participants indicated, “The instructional designers at DOE have really high standards; they will not allow you to end up with a bad product. They set the bar extremely high and inspire you to do your best.” One participant expressed that they were happy with what was learned in the D40 Program.

Figure 2: Learning (Pre and Post Survey)
Nine (out of eleven) participants mentioned that they learned a lot from the D40 training program. One participant indicated, “I have learned a great deal in this course.” Regarding the specific training topics, one participant expressed, “I learned so much that I didn’t know before about the importance and value of alignment, varying assessment and instructional strategies...” Another participant stated, “I really enjoyed the alignment section as it gave me insight to teaching I should have learned years ago“.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty: As the field of online learning continues to grow and change, it is important that the University of Iowa continues to provide quality, online course development training for faculty members who are experts in their content field, but who may need assistance in online course design, development, and delivery. The Design4Online training accomplishes this goal. It began by seeking University of Iowa instructors’ input regarding the needs for online training. A survey regarding interest and topics for online training was distributed to all instructors at the University of Iowa. The survey results guided the development of Desgin4Online which includes 5 biweekly face-to-face meetings, a complimentary online course, as well as instructional design meetings between the instructor and an instructional designer. Each of these areas begin with data-driven best practices, are supported by current research, and encourage instructor questions and conversations.
Each face-to face training begins by assessing the participating instructors’ reaction to the training topics of that day via an engaging 4-Corner activity called “Choose a Spot”. The activity provides peer support, and encourages awareness, discussion and collaboration regarding the day’s topic/s. As the day progresses, the training follows a guided format that includes an engaging presentation or activity where the instructional designers deliver content knowledge as well as an example of applying that knowledge (I Do). This is followed by group work. Each group works together to explore and expand their knowledge on the content. In addition, each group practice applying the knowledge (We Do). The next step in the face-to-face training includes a short practice of the knowledge and application for each individual. The training concludes with a question and answer section and an introduction to the complementary online content where this knowledge and application is continued. The online environment has specific modules for each face-to-face training session that enhances and builds upon the face-to- face training and collaboration with peers. It also provides each participating instructors deeper and more meaningful application of the knowledge to instructors’ individual needs (You Do). This individual development in supported and guided through the weekly meetings between each instructor and the instructional designer who collaborate to build on the instructor’s upcoming online course.
The pre-survey data that was gathered from the Choose A Spot activity, and the post-survey data that was gathered from the accompanying online module’s post-survey to assess the training.
The blue area represents responses that were confident in the topic
The orange shaded areas represent responses that were not confident in the topic

(Figure 5: The Instructor’s Level of Training Confidence)
The Design4Online Training Program not only provides research, training, support and collaborative opportunities, it also provided incentives that included providing attendance to the OLC Acclerate Conference, one of the leading conferences on online learning; an opportunity to join a community of practice to support and encourage continued growth in online learning, as well as $1,000.00 financial stipend.
Learning: The Design4Online Training Program, while developed for online educators, is equally rewarding to online students who directly benefit from the newly designed courses that increase student learning. This new design includes enhanced engagement opportunities, student-centered design, differentiation that motivates students to dig deeper into learning content, as well as instructional activities that are aligned with assessments, learning objectives, and course goals which provide stronger measures for student success and needed areas of growth.
Student: Equally important to the Design4Oline Training program is the level of satisfaction that students feel regarding their experiences in the online environment. Distance and Online Education has implemented for the past two years a Students Preferences for Online Learning Survey. This survey has gathered data to help guide our course design process so we many meet student needs more effectively. The data coming in from the newly designed courses will be beneficial to our assessment of this goal. Furthermore, the new design includes research and design reflecting the Community of Inquiry Framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This framework addresses the critical learning that occurs as experiences intersect between social, cognitive, and teaching presence. Instructors in the Design4Online Training Program address each of these areas in their assignments, discussions, and content recognizing these experiences foster deeper and more meaningful learning.
Scale: Distance and Online Education provides successful, academic services for faculty who teach online courses at the University of Iowa. The success occurs through combining leading-edge technology and support with nationally recognized faculty to provide the best education experience possible, online, on-location, anywhere. The Instructional Design (ID) Team is one of the teams at DOE who provide online pedagogy training and support to University online instructors. To assist in meeting the needs of online instructors and reducing the replication of many individual training sessions, the instructional designers developed the Design4Online Training Program. The program encourages collaboration between 15-20 online instructors, the instructional design team, and other Distance and Online Education support teams such as the course coordinators, the media experts, and exam staff. Likewise, Design4Online encourages instructors at all levels, from different departments, and different colleges at the University of Iowa to come together to learn with and through each other along with the guidance of the Distance and Online Education instructional designers. While no cost analysis has been completed. It is likely that this combined approach is a more efficient use of time than the many individual meetings and can lead to a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to online education across departments, colleges and the University of Iowa. In addition, this program creates a community of practice that encourages and creates opportunities for instructors who have attended the Design4Online Training Program to reach out and encourage and mentor fellow colleagues in effective, online education practices.
Access: Faculty: This training program was provided for any instructors who taught online courses at the University of Iowa. The procedure to recruit the program participants was simple and convenient. Application information was sent to faculty, through workflow, and via university the website. The selection for the participants was decided by DOE and confirmed with the department head. The selected participant was enrolled in the training program. The participants had the access to the face-to-face scheduled sessions on campus, and all online content was accessible and delivered via University learning management system, ICON.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

1. Learning Space for the Face-to-Face meetings. We used a collaborative learning classroom called TILE
2. Online Course site that includes complimentary content for the participants.
3. Food and Beverages for the Face-to-Face meeting breaks.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The program was well supported and sponsored by Distance and Online Education and the University College at the University of Iowa. The D40 Training Program worked with the DOE marketing team to create the brand for the D40 training program and to promote the program in the university website. Also, the ID team and DOE staff provided presentations at faculty meetings to promote the D40 training program.

Below is the D40 Training Program Cost Table.
Cost Design4Online Budget Item
$870 Food and Beverages for five (5) face-to face meetings
$306 One promotional item per participant displaying the Design4Online logo. *Enough mugs for three training instances.
$250 Basic Needs - including Misc.
$1,100 Banquet for 40 people to celebrate program completion ($1,000 includes room rental and food)
$200 Framed certificate of completion signed by Associate Dean and Provost ($13 X 15)
$1300 Virtual Attendance to an Online Learning Conference: Online Learning Consortium (OLC). $1295 for unlimited group package.
$4,026 Total Program Investment (Basic Needs, Banquet, Awards)
$15,000 Faculty Stipend (An equal distribution to each participant in the amount of $1,000.00 each.)
$19,026 Grand Total

References, supporting documents: 

Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. Journal of The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Kirkpatrick Partners (2009). The Kirkpatrick Model. Retrieved from
Online Learning Consortium (2019). Effective Practice Awards. Retrieved from
Praslova, L. (2010). Adaptation of Kirkpatrick’s four level model of training criteria to assessment of learning outcomes and program evaluation in Higher Education. Journal of Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 22 (3), 215-225.
Wheldall, K., Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2014). MUSEC briefing issue No. 39: What is Direct Instruction? Retrieved from data/assets/pdf_file/0019/171037/MUSEC-Briefing-39- What-is-direct-instruction.pdf

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Anne Zalenski
Email this contact:
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Ron Kral
Email contact 2: