Adler School of Professional Psychology has been offering blended courses since Winter 2009. The school was recently relocated and with almost 17% increase in student enrollment, the Leadership Team has taken an initiative to recognize and promote the efforts to create a support system for faculty and students.
Adler Online and the Information Technology department worked in collaboration to build a solid foundation to provide faculty and student support system for blended courses.
Surveys and Interviews
We conducted a student event to talk to students about their experience and expectations from Moodle, current support and instructor experience. We asked students and faculty to complete online surveys, which were created in Survey Monkey. As a result of weekly reminder for couple of months, 44 faculty and 55 students completed the survey. Their information helped us to take the following actions:
Support and Communication
Information Technology department was already using a Helpdesk support account to support and troubleshoot the school’s technical needs. To use a focal point of contact for hybrid/online students and faculty we decided to create an Adler Online support account. This helped Adler Online to minimize response time and focus to hybrid and online students and faculty. This account became a center point of contact for sending mass communication and providing instructional design and Moodle support. Information Technology and Adler Online agreed on a decision tree to filter and forward issues based on the nature of the problem.
For remote support we are using WebEx, which has drastically improved our support to faculty and students.
For mass communication and timely notifications to faculty, we decided to use MyEmma - after comparing it against Constant Contact and MailChimp. From many MyEmma features, we are currently using listservs, email templates and stationery, and tools to track and email reports.
Courses in Moodle
We did not have a system in place to know which courses should be copied over for the next semester. The hybrid courses had content created by the instructors, but there was no ownership of the content in place. This led to high volume of support emails from both students and faculty during the semester. We began a process, approved by the Chairs Council, and created a course spreadsheet to identify master course shells and course authors, so that our Moodle administrator had a correct list of courses to copy over. Without the course author’s approval we decided not to incorporate any course changes, and to make sure we copy the correct course shell, we locked the master shell and gave read-only access to faculty and course author for any reference.
We further decided to create an Adler course template to provide consistency to all course. The key attributes were color scheme, course navigation, and standard support resources for library, technical help, and student support.
Technology and Training
We did not have an online resource section on our website. Therefore, as a short term solution, Adler Online and Information Technology department decided to used PBworks to collaboratively work together to create a process to identify students and faculty Moodle FAQs, and agreed to use Google Sites to post all the tutorials.
The Adler School has incorporated the Smart Technology© interactive whiteboard systems as its primary classroom collaboration technology. We have found the interactive potential of the system to integrate multiple content sources through an intuitive, touch-based platform to have become and engaging and even compelling presentation medium for both our faculty and our students. Combining this delivery platform with the flexibility of multiple content sources (embedded computer, external laptop, DVD, VHS, and HDMI inputs) as well as web-based has provided our faculty a powerful means to more creatively immerse our students with high-impact content that more actively received by our students. The touch-based interface, apart from conveying a sense of sophistication, allows our faculty to present more naturally, thus focusing more on the content objectives of the course and less on its delivery. The ability to capture the collaborative discussions and notes through this system and conveniently post them electronically or send them to students through email messaging extends the value and impact of the learning potential of our classrooms.
Prior to the creation of Adler Online support account, the Director of Adler Online use to receive all the support and course related issues into his inbox. Adler Online support account as the primary departmental email account has helped drastically to receive, monitor, and send messages to faculty and students.
For mass communication through MyEmma, we created stationeries, email templates, and listserv. To help us evaluate the effectiveness of all communication, we use Response tools in MyEmma to review who opened, clicked, shared, signed-up or opted-out.
Currently, other departments like Marketing, Admissions, and Finance are in the process to discuss the possibility of using MyEmma for all forms of communications.
For remote training and support, we first used Nefsis, but were not happy with the results. Later, we tried WebEx and so far it has met all our needs. The response has been very positive and the quality of the webinar and providing remote support has been very successful.
The faculty and student surveys about their experience and expectations from Moodle helped Adler Online and IT work together to improve Moodle.
After reviewing the survey, a summary was submitted by the Instructional and Multimedia Consultant:
Based on the above suggestions, Adler Online and IT have decided to take the following measures:
Faculty and administration though have not been asked to complete a formal survey, but are very happy with these changes.
After successfully using PBworks (wiki) to conduct Adler Online strategic planning for 2011-2014, Adler Online and IT decided to use PBworks for creating Moodle FAQs. These FAQs were submitted by our Moodle Administrator, who troubleshoots Moodle issues. We realize that we need to create more content, but for now we created content for the following FAQs:
Moodle FAQ – Student
Moodle FAQ – Faculty
These FAQs were added to Google Sites and added to all courses in Moodle. Currently, we do not have a landing page on the Adler School website to create content, therefore the short term solution decided by IT, Adler Online, Library, and Center for Learning and Teaching was to use Google Sites.
Workshops and training for on-campus and faculty and students have not been finalized, but the following list has been submitted, which has been reviewed by Adler Online, IT, Library and the Center for Learning and Teaching:
Suggestion to be conducted by Adler Online
Suggestion to be conducted by the Library
Technology – For both faculty and staff
Suggestion to be conducted by IT and Adler Online
Special Topics – For both faculty and staff
Suggestion to be conducted by outside speakers
Currently, we do not have our own media servers, therefore Adler Online and IT decided to use Vimeo to host all our meeting archives and video tutorials. It is an excellent hosting service; administratively we only have to upload videos, and add the link to our online resources.
Our long-term technology strategy will explore the potential impact and benefits of in-house multimedia content streaming, archiving, access, and management systems deployment for access by the Adler faculty and student communities.
SMART © (Classroom) Technologies
Web-based applications like Google Sites, PBworks, Vimeo, and YouTube have allowed instant accessibility to resources to support faculty and students. Administratively, our content is centralized, easy to access, update, integrate, and share. To our end-users, all the information is on a consistent platform, which greatly improves accessibly. These capabilities are supported by a robust network, wireless, and Internet access infrastructure that supports current needs as well as provides for future scalability. Adler Online, IT, Library and Center for Learning and Teaching are very happy with this approach.
Faculty and Student Satisfaction
Anecdotal feedback from staff, faculty and students has been very positive. At this stage, not all content has been developed. However, the changes in terms of Moodle layout and creation of online resources have shown dramatic improvement in both faculty and student engagement and satisfaction.
We are confident that, based on surveys results collected from students and faculty, our online resources like New to Online, Technical Support and Student Support, and Moodle training resources will have the following benefits:
The hardware required for access to and interaction with online applications is a webcam and microphone.
Minimum Hardware Requirements for Moodle© Course Interaction
Chrome, Opera, AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe, and other ISP-provided browsers are not supported.
SMART (Classroom) Technology
To maximize classroom technology familiarity by our student and faculty constituencies, we have designed our 24 classrooms with complete consistency in terms of technology resources:
The choices of all the online applications are very affordable.
We recognize the significant investment that was leveraged in the development of our classroom technology environment. We feel that this investment reflects our commitment to provide our faculty with the innovative and collaborative technology infrastructure to fully engage our students and consequently maximize their learning experience with us.
An approximate breakdown of the technology investment per classroom follows: