The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy - O'Donnell Learn

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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Published By Brett Christie, PhD
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In our latest webinar, “Building Learning Communities in the Classroom and with Faculty”, O’Donnell Learn Founder and CEO, Carrie O’Donnell, and I offer practical ideas and examples for helping students take their learning to the next level through connection and community. We’re also passionate about cultivating professional learning communities among faculty and offer ways to develop this critical support to overall faculty satisfaction.