Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Approaches to Faculty Development for Online/Blended Learning

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I had a wonderful session today via #ELIweb – it’s a (paid) course on supporting excellence in online instruction. Possibly the first professional development event that targets me in my main role as a faculty developer who supports online/blended learning (well my entire department not just me). The course leader is Rena Paloff, whose books i had come across before but had never read extensively (i think i might now, though)

Anyway one of the key things I took from today’s session is something i feel i have beem yearning for and seeing in “not quite right” form in past conferences (#eli2015 and #aln14): how to support faculty new to online /blended effectively.

So what I really liked was the concept of “phases” in faculty development. I can’t share course materials but I did find this openly available link to a presentation by Rena at an OLC event on the topic.

What I love about it is twofold
First it does not assume all faculty need the same  “course” to prep them for online. This is obvious to anyone but normally difficult to implement – i like that the plan is to try to implement a non one-size-fits-all thing.

I also like the division of faculty from phases of visitors (just looking) to novices (starting to learn) to two other phases apprentice and insider (as learning accelerates) then finally master (with possible recycling as person moves to new place or learns new tech or approach to pedagogy).  It is cool in showing how different phases require support w diff things. Do they need pedagogy support more? Tech support? It is a bit more complicated but my daughter was awake and i couldn’t focus fully. Can go back later

For now though, i just wanted to highlight how this approach/framework sounds better to me than another (also useful) approach which categorized ppl by the more familiar “innovator, early adopter, late adopter, laggard”approach coz that one focuses on attitudes towards tech and not readiness (still useful for other things in ed tech)

(categories in general can be deceiving though and can make us forget other important factors that affect how ppl learn or what they need, like the discipline they teach, characteristics of their students, etc)

Finally – i remember a (repeated) convo w colleagues here where i keep saying i cannot plan a long fac dev thing w/o knowing who i am gonna be working with (like a proper call i teach) and i was happy to learn of the Penn State readiness survey (one each for teachers and learners) and i may adapt ours to incorporate most of their questions – it is so rare that i find one of these that i think fits us and isn’t too long. My plan is to also have consultation w faculty pre workshop to help us adjust our plans and create some optional workshops

Thinking we might benefit from having a drop-in day for those – or having 2 hour long sessions where interested faculty come and sit with someone from my department (we have about 5 of us who can handle this) and we report back with recommendations.

I’ll see if others think these are good ideas

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