Propel: Driving Learner Success Through Purposeful Instructor Support
Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Mar 05, 2021
In a study we conducted last summer with nearly 500 higher education faculty, we learned most were spending 49 hours prepping new online courses prior to the start of the semester. For existing courses, 23 hours per course. And fine tuning content throughout the term? Eight hours per week. This is in addition to teaching, not to mention other duties like research and service.
However, we also learned that while most were confident in their ability to teach online, 42% have little experience and nearly half were attempting to mirror their face-to-face teaching in the online environment. Both of these factors are strong indicators of not understanding the intentionality involved in developing and delivering effective online courses.
As we move beyond emergency remote instruction towards improving the online learning experience, how do we ask faculty to do even more preparation? The reality is, we shouldn’t. Instead we should purposefully support instructors to help them more effectively and efficiently develop their online courses.
In our latest webinar, “Propel: Driving Learner Success Through Purposeful Instructor Support”, Brett Christie, Ph.D., our director of learning experience design, and I shared more about this research, what makes up effective learning and two models for instructor support.
Here are the key takeaways:
- While there is widespread interest in support services, less than half of the faculty reported having access to many support services outside of personal development workshops; our focus group participants reported feeling unengaged with the workshops.
- Faculty also reported interest in tools and resources to explore what others are doing and could help them use their time more efficiently.
What Makes Great Learning
- Many campuses lack a shared understanding of what makes learning effective.
- There are gold-standard quality rubrics, such as Quality Matters and QOLT, to help evaluate existing courses, typically at the end of the semester.
At the same time, faculty lacked an easy-to-implement tool to help them examine essential course elements in the context of student success – and then effectively iterate course improvement throughout the term.
Our Purposeful Learning Framework Scorecard helps faculty self-check how their course aligns with eight key elements of purposeful learning and iterate from there. It’s also a great starting point for institutions to begin creating a shared understanding of effective learning across disciplines. Learn more here.
Two Models for Instructor Support
Centralized Instructor Support
- Typically resides within an institution’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
- Access to resources is available in an ongoing, self-serve basis through a specific web portal (e.g. Learning Commons); templates, handouts, online workshops, video tutorials, model courses are some of what’s often provided.
- There is a Process in place to support and sustain faculty as they participate in programming toward targeted changes; faculty orientation and/or learning community, 1:1 mentoring or support with experienced faculty, instructional designer or through the CTL
- Outcomes determine how well faculty are doing to impact student success and measure the CTL effectiveness; Teacher efficacy, student satisfaction, course data, etc.
Responsive Support: Decentralized and Personalized
Flexible and responsive to individual instructor needs and includes the following beneficial components:
- Action Learning creates the opportunity for faculty to work on their own courses as part of a learning experience.
- Specialized Coaching provides an expert support network, used to elevate specific problems, for example, rethinking Canvas course flows to improve the student experience. Think Apple Genius Bar.
- Personalized Resources of faculty-built libraries of tools, discipline-focused exemplars and automated design templates to help increase course prep efficiency.
- Implementation Support offers virtual access to specialized experts as needed (e.g., academic technologists, learning designers, media producers) to reduce development barriers
- Learning Community gives faculty a community of practice; faculty and experts collaborate to deliver effective learning experiences for their students.
Whatever your approach to instructional support, please take the time to earnestly show faculty your appreciation. Our study results also reveal how hard they’re working for your benefit – and for your students. The entire webinar is available here.