Using Social Technologies to Improve Faculty Communications and Collaboration

Author Information
Author(s): 
Dr. Colin Marlaire
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
National University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

National University was faced with challenges around effectively supporting a disparate faculty in teaching, curriculum design, research and scholarship efforts. Previously, the dissemination of information to faculty was sent globally and often through email, therefore it frequently went ignored (since it was not personal and is an overused medium). At the same time, faculty collaboration was happening in isolation and almost impossible to collect & expose as best practices to other interested faculty and staff. National therefore built the first iteration of a "faculty commons" where faculty can access resources, share best practices and collaborate with one other as well as staff. This was created in partnership with GoingOn Networks, with links to other solutions on campus that housed resources like a streaming video repository (Kaltura, although National is changing providers this summer) and a virtual meeting center (Adobe Connect). The University launched their initial network to approximately 300 faculty members in Fall 2011 and then rolled it out to the broader faculty community of 3250 folks in February 2012 to much success and acclaim within the organization.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Based on the concept of providing faculty members with a personalized, individualized environment that allows them to connect and collaborate with others, National University drew faculty to a single platform to engage in collaborative discussions around technology use, teaching and learning challenges and solutions, and scholarly activity. By exposing faculty to a single community in which they all belong and that is full of resources and guidance for interacting with one another, National was able to exchange ideas and grow the practice in new ways. At the same time, faculty could participate in independent communities, private to a subset of users, to drill into more specific topical areas or resource needs. Faculty also created personal profiles that were shared only among the National faculty so they could connect and network with one another even outside the context of a community. As a next phase, more individual communities and areas for collaboration will be created, as well as the continued addition of new resources and events available for participation.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

National University launched its initial network to approximately 300 faculty members in Fall 2011. Due to the success of the pilot, the community has grown. Currently there are 3,250 faculty members active on the network who are now able to easily connect, communicate, collaborate and share resources when before such engagement was challenging and difficult to facilitate.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

ACCESS:

By providing faculty with a place to improve their practice, they can improve the teaching, learning and scholarship students are exposed to.

FACULTY SATISFACTION:

Faculty are happy with their online teaching experience because they have the ability to access resources centrally (saving them significant time), and can collaborate with other members of the faculty they may never have a chance to meet in a face to face environment.

LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS:

The platform allows for faculty to exchange in collaborative and rich discussions around curriculum support and change. It encourages continued improvement in curriculum design and supports more effective online learning experiences for students.

SCALE:

By centralizing access to faculty, especially remote and adjunct faculty, National saves significant resources in trying to reach out to and connect faculty with one another and to connect faculty with valuable campus-based resources. The centralized faculty commons also provides a place for new practices to be vetted quickly and early in their adoption lifecycle, so that resources are not wasted on tools, practices and systems that do not provide faculty with direct value.

STUDENT SATISFACTION:

By providing faculty with a place to improve their practice, they can improve the teaching, learning and scholarship students are exposed too.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

GoingOn license, 2-3 "parts" of staff people that equates to about a single, dedicated staff person.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

$10K for GoingOn license, $10K in strategic deployment services

References, supporting documents: 

See screen shots.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Colin Marlaire
Email this contact: 
cmarlaire@nu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Melissa Loble
Email contact 2: 
melissal@goingon.com