Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit

Author Information
A. Sasha Thackaberry
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Cuyahoga Community College
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Cuyahoga Community College created and distributed a Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit as a method for scaling quality instructional design resources.  The Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit is a series of tools that are designed to provide faculty with applicable strategies for designing their online or hybrid courses, in the real world, without needing particular expertise in instructional design.  These tools all embrace and are aligned to Quality Matters standards, and provide critical, just-in-time resources to enable faculty to design their courses immediately.  The make-and-take tools are all accompanied by examples, and include everything for aligning using Backwards Design, focusing on objectives, assessments, resources, activities, and technology, to recommended organizational structures for online classrooms.



Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) is one of the largest community colleges in the nation.  Three years ago, with the rapid expansion of both online and hybrid courses at the college, the Office of Distance Learning was renamed and restructured into the Office of eLearning and Innovation.  With the new department, several large grant initiatives expanded the use of eLearning resources, including instructional design.  But with limited staff resources - only one instructional designer - there were challenges scaling the important work on faculty designing quality online courses.  Simultaneously, the college has been expanding the use of Quality Matters through the dedicated efforts of faculty and staff.  Recognition for the critical role that instructional design plays in student success in online and hybrid courses demanded new strategies to reach faculty in a scalable way, providing them with the needed tools and resources to be successful.

The Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit is an effective method for getting those resources directly to those who need them as just-in-time usable tools.  The toolkit contains:

  • An Alignment Map with fill-in fields to establish clear correlations between pieces necessary for alignment, including the objectives (which are pre-determined by the college), assessments, resources, activities, and technologies used.
  • An Example Alignment Map that demonstrates a correct use of the tool, as well as provides context for how it can be used in an effective and flexible manner.
  • Aligning Through Language, a three-page overview of how to align assessments and activities with the instructional levels of course objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised.)  This simple chart can be used hand-in-hand with the Alignment Map.
  • The Indicators of Quality – Tri-C’s internal quality tool created from the Quality Matters Rubric, that is crafted specifically for the culture of Tri-C.
  • The Design and Development Resource List, which provides the list of staff, extensions and emails, for instructional design, development, faculty support, technology integration, and quality assistance.
  • Examples of Organizational Structures in Online Courses, which provides three distinct examples for how to effectively set up a student-centered navigation in online courses.

    These courses are created by faculty using the New Course Template, for which two Tri-C members of the eLearning and Innovation team (A. Sasha Thackaberry, Senior Instructional Designer, and Danielle Budzick, Course Production Specialist,) were awarded the 2010 League for Innovation’s Innovation of the Year award at Tri-C.  

Additionally, a hybrid version of the Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit was created, which contains:

  • An Alignment Map specific to hybrid courses, with an added designation of what pieces are face-to-face, and which are online.
  • An Example Hybrid Alignment map demonstrating correct usage.
  • A list of Hybrid Tools that can be used in the development of hybrid courses.  These tools correlate directly with the levels of instruction for Bloom’s Taxonomy, and can be used hand-in-hand with the resource Aligning Through Language.  (This list of hybrid tools was created by Dr. Gillian McKnight-Tutein, Director of Innovative Learning Design and Quality, and Cindy Potteiger, Instructional Technologist.)
  • Recommended Hybrid Models.  This simple two-page document reviews four recently embraced models for instructional design in hybrid courses, including the Flip, Instructional Split, Online in the Classroom, and Mixed Cohort models.  (An article on the use of these models will be published Volume 8, issue 3, of Distance Learning Magazine, entitled “Having It All:  The Hybrid Solution for the Best of Both Worlds in Women’s Post-Secondary Education.”

    The Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit has been distributed to faculty in required trainings for faculty to teach in the online environment, which reached approximately 244 faculty members as of Fall 2011.  The Faculty Hybrid Toolkit was distributed via a dedicated listserv at Tri-C for faculty teaching hybrid courses. 

    Next steps for the full scaling of the Faculty Instructional Design Toolkit include:
  • Distribution via the eLearning and Innovation blog.
  • A dedicated Design and Development website for faculty that integrates Best Practice documentation with the toolkit, a variety of resources, news and updates about both instructional design and development in eLearning environments. 
  • The creation of a critical set of measures for tracking usage, determining saturation, and measuring impact on quality course design and corresponding student success.


Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Full measurement of this effective practice will be predicated on data collection in the upcoming two year period.  The primary effectiveness will focus on the following measures:  saturation among faculty – percentage usage among faculty teaching either fully online or in hybrid environments, impact on course design – improvement in the design of online or hybrid courses as determined using the Indicators of Quality or Quality Matters recognition, impact on student success – including retention and persistence data in courses designed using the toolkit.  Current faculty exposure is at 244 faculty, nearly all faculty new to online or hybrid teaching in the past year.



How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Student success in online and hybrid courses is substantially impacted by instructional design.  Injecting tools into the process that can positively impact that student experience through clear organizational structures, built in course alignment, and correlating assessments with objectives and activities, all serves to improve learning effectiveness, and also student satisfaction as students spend more time interacting with well-designed content, and less time figuring out the locations of various course components.

 Faculty who previously would not have had access to resources and tools to create those quality courses will now have preparation and step-by-step just-in-time tools to put quality into action.  Without this toolkit, the reach of those resources and tools would have been greatly diminished due to staffing and infrastructure limitations.  This toolkit dramatically increases the reach of both the message of how critically important quality instructional design is, and the tools to actually make that happen.  With one instructional designed at the institution, every faculty cannot receive the personalized design services necessary to recreate an online or hybrid course.  The toolkit enables faculty to put into use ready to use methods and strategies for designing their quality online course.

At Cuyahoga Community College, access to a quality education is a key component of the college’s mission.  Improving the course design and consequently improving the student experience expands access as students have a more positive experience with their education, come back for the next semester, and work to graduate with a degree or certificate.



Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Minimal.  The toolkits were distributed both virtually via zip files, and face-to-face in workshops as simple printed packets.



Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

There are virtually no costs associated with the distribution of this practice. There are more considerable costs in terms of staff time devoted to developing just-in-time materials and educating faculty on how to best put them into use. Costs would be almost wholly dependent upon the institutional infrastructure and how training and information is delivered.


Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
A. Sasha Thackaberry
Email this contact: 
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Gillian McKnight-Tutein