#SUNYCIT: Three Years of Preparing Faculty to Teach Online: Successes and Lessons Learned

#SUNYCIT: Three Years of Preparing Faculty to Teach Online: Successes and Lessons Learned

A panel consisting of Andrea MacArgel, Cherie van Putten, Steve Weidner, Tami Regulski, and Eric Machan Howd from Binghamton University shared lessons learned as they incrementally improve how they prepared their faculty and graduate assistants to teach online. 

Preparing to Teach Online

The panel began by discussing the history of teaching and learning at Binghamton University. Binghamton University emphasizes residential learning; however, they teach online courses during the winter and summer sessions.

Initial online teaching efforts were to record a lecture, place it online, and call it good. In 2009, they required graduate students who teach online to complete training.

The big shift came through their strategic plan, which suggested training for all instructors.

Year I – Spring 2015

Their center for teaching and learning received monies to conduct training. Faculty received a stipend for completing a program.

  • $1,000 for faculty
  • $500 for graduate students

The program was split into two part:

Attend two day-long workshops on Blackboard and online course development.

The second part was a consultation to review and redesign their course to meet the OSCQR rubric and subject matter rubric. Participants also had to participate in a 2-hour wrap-up seminar.

Approximately 80% completed the entire program.

Lesson Learned

  • Payment needs to be based on the successful retooling of course.
  • Provide only one payment.

Year II – Spring 2016

The popularity of the program grew; therefore, they had to prioritize the acceptance of participants and change the methods for teaching the content.

They adjusted the format. The participants had to attend two 2-hour meetings followed by a self-paced online course. The online course had 6 modules. Each participant had to complete an assignment and discussion for each module.

They included modules on Blackboard, online teaching and course development, accessibility, and library issues, e.g., copyright, library services, course reserves, etc.

The consulting piece is still in place.

Sixty-five percent of participants completed the entire course.

Lessons Learned

  • Split the cohorts into spring and fall.
  • Both assignments and discussions were too much work.
  • Have smaller discussions with an assigned instructional designer.

Year III – Spring 2017

Now, participants receive training closer to when they will actually teach. They have to have a course listed in the course catalog.

Again, participants had two 2-hour meetings, which focused on an intro to Blackboard and a community of practice for online learning. They also had to complete a 6 module online self-paced course within 4 months. One of the new modules focused on creating inclusion in an online classroom. The assignment piece was dropped, they only had to complete online discussions.

Sixty-seven completed the online course portion of the program. The program is still in session.

The consulting piece is still in place.

Visions for the Future

  • Assign deadlines for portions of the course.
  • Allow participants to choose their cohort groups.
  • Binghamton University is looking to include more online courses.
  • Hiring course builders to help develop online courses.
  • Create one-button studios to help with lecture recording.

I thought the lessons learned were very useful. These lessons have caused me to rethink some of the approaches I am planning for some online courses we are creating.

If you are interested in discussing this session, please seek me out. I would love to chat with you about it.

Additional Reading

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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