SLOAN-C: Faculty Development for Blended and Online Learning — How Grad Students can Teach while they Learn

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On April 23, 2010

sloan-c.png Lead Presenter: Jack Dempsey; University of South Alabama

Graduate students working for Jack have done a lot of faculty development for his university. Jack is a professor of instructional design for his university. Students can gain highly marketable skills by developing materials for faculty. They also learn everything that the faculty need to know in order to successfully teach online.

South Alabama went from 8 to 200 fully online courses over the past 10 years.

In the beginning they looked at different roles that a faculty member would take — i.e. someone who is simply adapting a course v. someone who is developing a course from scratch. Ad-hoc committees were used to establish pedagogical goals for faculty. Most online faculty were really anxious. They were working in an online medium that they never expected, never taught in before, and never experienced as a learner.

Jack’s staff consists of graduate students. When they graduate from college, they typically get well-paid full-time positions based in part due to their knowledge and experience in teaching online.

While in class, the workers are students. While in the office (OLL), they are staff. Director (Jack) provides guidance, not procedure. Purposeful, mission-oriented self-sufficiency is how they operate. Students are responsible when things don’t work out well. They are also expected to pay attention to details, show up for work as scheduled. Deliverables should be on time, instructionally sound, and professional produced. They should also engage respectfully with faculty, each other, and staff.

Personal and creative effort needs to increase with improved competency. There are no plateaus for lifelong learners. Learning and teaching is socal–it’s our job to help each other learn. Due to the turnover in students, we want them to move on over time. Experienced OLL staff should be continuously training other staff.

Staff competency rated using a performance quality system. Staff members self-rate capability 0-3 on many competencies.

They use several models for training staff competencies – peer tutoring, self-training, cross-training (peer tutoring over time), hands-on training.

Jack’s staff also help faculty find the right balance between pedagogy and technology.

Faculty development methods include group training, online/onsite support, and individual consultation. This is pretty typical and EdTech also uses each of these methods on our campus.

Faculty members are very empathetic towards Jack’s group and tend to treat them as colleagues (in training, since they are graduate students who may join the ranks of faculty at some point). Overall, working with OLL is a very positive experience for both the faculty and the students.

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On April 23, 2010. Posted in Blended Learning, SLOAN-C