Monday, November 8, 2010

Eight Ideas for Supporting Faculty

[Repost from Blackboard.]
I liked this post from Blackboard which discusses how learning professionals canTechnology-Support assist faculty with technology.   I'd be interested in hearing from faculty which of these are most effective.  

Read the full post

Eight Ideas for supporting Faculty
Fully online and Hybrid courses take a lot of effort to create.  It is not as easy as it looks and often times faculty are left to do the brunt of it.  Over the past 12 years of e-learning, many great ideas for supporting faculty have evolved.  These have been adapted to meet the needs of faculty, and the size of the support staff at many institutions.
1. Show and Tell.  Faculty who are new to e-learning want to see examples of what their colleagues are doing.  Some institutions have show and tell sessions and invite faculty to come show their own courses, while others get permission to show courses and an instructional designer or other e-learning support person will show them off.
2. Online course.  There are some institutions that require instructors who wish to use Blackboard, to go through an online course created for teaching them how to use the software.  This gets instructors into the very software they will use, and they get an opportunity to use the very tools their students will.  If done properly, it will give instructors ideas on what is possible.
3. Faculty Mentors.  Smaller schools without large support staff have use the Faculty Mentor model with great success. The core Blackboard support staff on campus will train faculty from various departments and then they work with faculty within their department to mentor and train them.  This can be very successful, but it can also put a heavy burden on the mentors. Selecting the mentors is the key to success and it is usually early adopters who have a passion for this technology.
4.  Online tutorials.  Putting easy to follow self help documents and tutorials online can really help faculty go it on their own.  Utah State University has had great success creating both text and video/audio based tutorials for faculty who are using Blackboard Vista.  You can see some examples here.
5.  Use Templates.  Having a general course design and plan promotes consistency throughout the University, and makes it easy for faculty to get started.  Instead of having to start from scratch and spend a lot of time playing around, faculty and instructors can focus on creating content.  One school estimates it saves 25% - 30% of online development time by having a course template/shell available.
6.  Build it for them.  Faculty time, especially those on the tenure/research track is very valuable and limited.  Why not build the entire course for them.  Use the templates and a good checklist to sit down with them and chart out a plan for the course.  Commit them to get you the content on a timeline, and then build it for them.  Use examples of other classes to show them what the end result will be, and customize where needed to meet the learning objectives of the course and each unit.
7.  Online Office Hours.  Just like faculty have office hours, you can provide excellent support to them by having online office hours.  There are even examples in consortia where each institution takes a turn monitoring online office hours.
8.  Bring technology support together.  Supporting the development of e-learning requires graphic artists, web designers, course developers, instructional designers and media specialists.  If these are in different groups, it makes it harder to get the job done. Experience shows that when these experts are not part of the e-learning group (the group supporting the faculty with Blackboard technology) then they “don’t get it,” and may not be able to provide the best solutions.  Experience shows that when these experts work hand in hand with the faculty, and instructional designers/Bb support staff, then the outcome is a far better project.

You should also avoid one-person operations in individual colleges or departments.  They tend to be islands and although will get the job done, do not get the real opportunity to collaborate on a regular basis with others.  Synergy is created when designers and support persons from varied backgrounds and skill levels get together and share.  Each brings their strengths and the outcome is bigger than the sum of the parts.

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