SLOAN-C: Faculty Development for Blended Learning

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On April 23, 2010

sloan-c.png Lead Presenter: Tova Duby; Babson College

Babson is a small private college in Wellsley, MA. Babson has been working on blended learning for the past 10 years.

Babson offered its firts blended course back in 2001. Faculty would not have stood a fully online course, so a blended course was the best compromise. Especially at a small college (2000 students) that values the personal touch. At first, Babson started partnering with private companies. But they were “in it for the money”, which, according to Dr. Joel Hartman is not the way to begin a blended learning program. Babson bled money for some time before they finally found a partnership that worked (Intel).

In 2006 they started an Innovation in Blended Learning Faculty Fellows Program. So far 50 faculty fellows have completed the program. There are currently 60+ faculty fellows. These are qualified to design and deliver online education.

Phase 1 of developing blended courses is to find faculty pioneers. Faculty don’t like to be told what to do by external contractors, so it is important to find faculty on campus who are really keen on doing blended learning on their own. This is true on our campus just as it was at Babson college. In other words, it is important to build the on-campus relationships with faculty who are already doing what needs to be done. Then the campus can begin structuring solutions that leverage the work of the pioneering faculty and expand the resources to support both those faculty and the faculty “fast followers”.

Phase 2 is to encourage “faculty fast followers” to adopt some of the tools and techniques the faculty pioneers have developed. This is where a group like EdTech can really help by putting the fast followers in touch with the pioneers. We can also provide guidance and resources to implement blended learning strategies. EdTech and CERTI working together can highlight new technologies for the fast followers and spread the word amongst the faculty on what tools work (and which don’t).

Phase 3 is the full campus-wide implementation on blended learning with full institutional support from all administrative offices on campus (Registrar, Vice Provosts, Provost, Chancellor, etc.). The eLearning Initiative sponsored by UM-System is laying the groundwork to go from Phase 2 into Phase 3.

Key components of program design include faculty (students/designers/teachers); one-on-one consultations; debriefings & revisions; regular programs offered; and flexibility of options. EdTech is currently working to improve the level of support available for each of these components. The blended course this blog shows up in is a perfect example as this is an area where the community of practice for blended learning can share ideas.

Faculty should play different roles within a blended learning development program. First they should be a student, learning what blended learning means and the different tools that are available. This is, in fact, then purpose of the CyberEd course in Blackboard. Then they progress to the design stage where they begin to apply everything they have learned for one or more of their courses. Finally, they get to teach the course they created. As with anything newly created, this can be a period of trial and error. However, EdTech and CERTI can offer support and resources to ensure success with their course.

One-on-one support with both technologists and instructional designers is important for success. EdTech is currently in the process of hiring for these positions within our group. The designers supports the pedagogy used in a blended course while the technologist provides more technical support for the tools used to enhance the blended course.

Throughout the process, the instructor needs to go through constant debriefing and revision of their course so it turns out as expected.

A formal program should be structured to take into account the needs of the campus community. In our case, we are trying to structure the program so that the faculty use one semester to go through the training process and then the next semester is used to teach the course they created. As we move forward, we will adjust as needed to account for the needs of our faculty.

Babson’s program was successful. They eased faculty through the transition to online/blended learning. New faculty hires participated in the program. They found a dedicated group of adjunct faculty. They established connections between learning technologists and faculty. They also created and used more self-learning modules online.

Babson had to meet several challenges, some of which are ongoing. Their program is not totally embedded in the faculty review system. It is a stand alone program, not tied to any other faculty development program. One of the reasons EdTech works so closely with CERTI is to give faculty a good path forward in professional development. As always, limited resources are a major challenge to meet all of the increased demands. As more faculty become interested, the demands will continue to increase, while the resources may decrease. Their program is also only focused on their fast-track MBA program and they don’t have as much support for other programs. However, their success in one program demonstrates that their is significant potential for other programs. Finally, it is difficult to disseminate new techniques. EdTech and CERTI use our faculty learning communities to address this challenge.

Babson’s next steps include going global, establishing quality control assurances, and more network development & faculty mentoring.

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