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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Higher Ed Has the Toolset, But Do They Have the Mindset to Future-fit?

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Aug 12, 2021

Imagine a fresh-faced eighteen year old, naive to the great big world ahead, hoping for an acceptance into an accredited two or four year college. They’re navigating the long hall towards their college counselor’s office, reviewing the list of schools in their mind, while envisioning a future of friends, inspiring courses and eventually a career, a life. College, whether community or four year, will be their first steps towards adulthood, towards maturity, or so they think.  What they don't know, what they aren’t told, is that most higher education is unequipped to prepare them for life. The real responsibilities they’ll meet when they exit campus are not delineated, explored or taught in school.  To make matters more complicated, the notion of the “traditional student” no longer exists. Students are opting out of four year residential colleges for two year schools and online programs. They’re also delaying the start of college in pursuit of a career. Additionally, there’s been an enormous uptick in adult learners, with families, who start school later, or attend school in tandem with a job. It’s clear: there’s a broken talent pipeline. And an enormous question: is higher education fit for the future?

Looking Back/Learning Forward: Lessons For the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 20, 2021

Looking Back, Learning Forward, a motto and mindset to utilize as we envision the future of distance education and fuse historic learning practices with modern lifestyles. I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College, where we walked a group of educators through insights gathered over the last fourteen months of online learning. If one thing is clear, it is that it’s been a journey for everyone: faculty, students, education consultants, learning designers, institutional leadership, and families alike. 

Launching Faculty Learning Communities: Participation is All About Perceived Value

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 14, 2021

In an earlier webinar, O’Donnell Learn CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I shared practical ideas and examples for building learning communities among faculty. These communities provide a rich opportunity for faculty to gather around a common goal, learning together and from each other while accomplishing a desired outcome.   Faculty learning communities can provide the time, space and resources for mission-critical efforts related to teaching and learning. Teaching expertise is most often not part of the faculty background, nor is instructional design a common skill. Plus, faculty often develop courses in isolation. In contrast, gathering faculty around learning design can create vibrant exchanges of what’s working, what’s not, and problem-solving around how to make improvements.