The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 19, 2021

Imagine our surprise last summer when we reached out to 475 faculty and learned the online courses for nearly half were simply mirrors of their face-to-face instruction. In fact, only 22% were designing their courses differently for online.

With all of the faculty development around online learning being offered, why weren’t more faculty designing courses specifically for this type of instruction? As it turns out, faculty weren’t engaging with development options at a level you might expect given COVID-19 and the rapid shift to online learning. Something we’d also learned in surveys and interviews with170 provosts and academic leaders a year earlier.

The solution? The WOW Factor.

In our most recent webinar The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy, Brett Christie and I share how you can create faculty development that’s exciting, engaging, helps faculty see where they need to be and how to move the needle to get there.

  1. Learn by Doing  Students learn best when they actively take part in their own learning. Give faculty the same experience. Rather than watch someone explain learning design, let them design learning experiences. Even better, an actual course they can use. 
  2. Model Best Practices  This is a huge part of creating the WOW factor and completely engaging faculty. Model learning design best practices and make it known what you’re modeling. For example, chunking lessons; no more than 15 minutes of lecture without active learning. Help faculty experience what a student experiences in a well-designed online course; the difference these practices make.
  3. Model Engagement & Community  A real struggle for faculty is creating engagement online. Bringing their own personality to the course and encouraging students to do the same. Demonstrate how to build community and create social interaction with tools like Flipgrid and Padlet. Not only will you build lasting community among the faculty in the workshop, but they’ll also learn firsthand how to do this with their students. 
  4. Provide Tools, Resources & Exemplars. It’s so important to instill confidence and give faculty what they need to replicate what they learned. For example, a sample course in Canvas to use as a model, assessment templates, active learning techniques and exemplars to help them with each step of the course development process.
  5. Create Community Pride in the Experience Award badges, print certificates and share faculty accomplishments via external (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and internal communications. Spark interest that makes faculty want to know what’s coming up next.

Does creating the WOW factor work? We invited Corrine Smolizza, Director of Instructional Technology with St. Francis College to join us. St. Francis faculty participated in an abbreviated version of our Jumpstart program in August and with 100% client satisfaction, the results were phenomenal! Jumpstart exemplifies everything shared above. Here’s what Corinne had to say (Runtime 1:56 minutes):

To watch this webinar in full or any of our previous webinars, click here. 

Our next Webinar, “Building Learning Communities in the Classroom and with Faculty“, is Wednesday, 2/3/21 at 12 pm EST. We hope to see you there! Register easily here:

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Resiliency in the Now Normal: Spending for Sustainability and Scale is Key

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Apr 22, 2021

Earlier in April, Matt Reed proposed the best use of the $12B included in President Biden’s infrastructure legislation for updating infrastructure in community colleges, would be “ways that situate colleges to be more resilient in future economic headwinds.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Reed, not only does he write the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog on Inside Higher Ed, nearly 18 years of his career has been in community college leadership positions. Dr. Joshua Kim, director of online programs and strategy at Dartmouth College, fondly refers to him as “Dean Dad.” In fact, Kim penned a response in support of the infrastructure spending recommendations Reed made in his post and offered an additional recommendation of his own: learning designers. 

Learn While Doing: Course Innovations in Real Time

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Mar 30, 2021

We recently learned there are approximately 20,000 learning designers in the US compared to over 1,500,000 faculty creating online courses. Additionally, a study we conducted last summer with 475 higher ed faculty revealed: Nearly half were simply mirroring their face-to-face instruction, Only 22% were designing their courses differently for online, More than 40% had never taught online or had only taught online for one to two terms. But here’s an even more startling fact: faculty were spending nearly 49 hours prepping an online course for the first time. Converting an existing course for online? Twenty-three hours.

Right Now, External Partners Might Be Higher Ed’s Greatest Ally

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Mar 09, 2021

A recent Hechinger report raised the alarm on the increasing amount of OPM contracts secured in 2020. While there seems to be great concern over the cost and number of these contracts, there also seems to be a lack of correlation between this increase and the pandemic. Have we all forgotten the sudden shift to online learning every university across the nation had to make? Whatever online learning institutions had in place at the time, if any, had to be scaled on a massive level.