St. Francis College faculty had mastered the basics of online learning. At the same time, the experience during COVID-19 had emphasized the need to increase online learner engagement in both live and asynchronous lecture sessions.
The team at St Francis College believed that their faculty would benefit from an injection of outside expertise and perspective around learning design and that it would provide an added level of credibility for the faculty development program. They were intrigued by our Learn by Doing approach, the hallmark feature of our new Jumpstart product, a three-week learning design bootcamp. The caveat? This would be our launch initiative with Jumpstart and St. Francis needed to compress our three week program down to one.
Participants left the Jumpstart immersive learning experience with confidence and renewed energy for delivering stronger learning experiences this Fall, even though the bootcamp was collapsed down to just one week in length. As they worked with O’Donnell Learn designers, they were able to infuse their courses with new best practices, deploy new tools for learner engagement and reimagine content delivery.
THE SHOUT OUT
What we really were able to do during our workshop was break down the barrier of that faculty member who said, “I’m never going to teach online. I’m never going to use this” and making them part of a community.
- Corinne Smolizza, Instructional Designer and Director of Online Learning & Instructional Technology
St. Francis College (SFC), located in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, New York, describes itself as the “small college with big dreams”. As such, they are committed to improve learning for their students by supporting and developing faculty.
Like every higher education institution, St. Francis was experiencing a compressed schedule to prepare for the fall semester in the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic. At the same time, they wanted to supplement their basic faculty online certification program and elevate their faculty’s understanding of online learning.
Our new Jumpstart product had just launched. Jumpstart is a three-week virtual learning design bootcamp that helps faculty create engaging, effective learning experiences. Faculty participate in an immersive “learn by doing” experience: they work one-on-one with our designers, attend live, collaborative learning sessions, and employ our time-saving, tech-enabled tools and templates.
St. Francis saw Jumpstart as an excellent opportunity to improve their online courses by increasing student engagement, implementing effective online assessment and reimagining virtual instruction. Twenty-five faculty participated in the Jumpstart program. But there was one hitch: the program had to be condensed to a single week, in August, in preparation for the start of the Fall term .
The Jumpstart experience models the same effective, engaged online learning that we advocate. In response to St. Francis’ urgent need, we reworked Jumpstart’s intense, shortened curriculum into segments, and “chunked” the learning: no more than 15 minutes of presentation, followed by an active learning experience. We modeled many different techniques for active learning–from peer instruction to self-reflection to group work–and we practiced using the tools and technology available for such interaction.
Though these segments were designed for their own “learning”, faculty participants were also simultaneously preparing their fall courses. In between the live and asynchronous learning activities, the instructors met with our virtual designers to reimagine and create their own courses. At the end of Jumpstart, their fall course was prepped and ready to go.
The faculty were so enthusiastic about getting a one-on-one session with a designer, for a full hour if needed, to ask any questions they had, on exactly the next steps they needed to take for building their online courses. I had two different people tell me that this was the most useful workshop or faculty development type experience that they had ever had around instructional design, instructional technologies and online learning.
Client feedback revealed 100% satisfaction. Each participant walked away with new learning practices as well as a head start on course preparation for the coming semester. They possessed a greater sense of how to build community and humanize all aspects of a course for their diverse student body. Best of all, their enthusiasm around teaching online and confidence for delivering stronger, more effective courses had been refreshed and renewed.