Easing the burden of Distance Learning
One day the Assistant Vice President of Information Technology received an inquiry from a Dean – “Do we have any formal process in place that I can follow when a faculty member asks to teach a course online”? The response was – “No, but we sure can use one!”
That’s where it all began – the realization that the College of Staten Island needed a formal process in place to assist Dean’s when they received the request to teach online from their faculty. What began as a simple checklist to assess faculty readiness to teach online (Based on COIL: Teacher’s Checklist for Online Interactive Learning) grew to an Online Initiative that involved a team of faculty, one instructional designer, and two technology specialists. The focus of this team was to create a support structure and online resources for faculty to use when teaching online. The focus has grown to include student awareness of what is required to be successful in an online environment.
Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate & Microsoft Office 365 Online Forms
Explain project results
It was clear with the limited resources we had, that the support structure and services provided had to be streamlined and easy to follow. First we focused on the online course. One of the challenges we faced concerned faculty not using sound instructional design principles in the design of their course. We had to consider how we could provide this structure without making too many demands on the faculty who are teaching in the online environment. The development of a course template in Blackboard addressed this challenge. Providing sample modules of all of the Blackboard tools that could be copied into the course provided the baseline that could be mirrored across any discipline.
Included in the template are items to facilitate virtual office hours and virtual rooms for student collaboration. In addition, sample modules include examples of graded discussion boards, sample syllabi including a visual syllabus, journaling and group work, and assessments, just to name a few.
We have also created a Blackboard Resource Community which has been made available to all instructors at the College. It provides information regarding Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning, Instructional Design models and worksheets, sample rubrics for online assignments and for the evaluation of course design, Blackboard tutorials, suggestions for relevant technology, guidelines for copyright, and guidelines for creating ADA compliant content.
During the Fall 2018 semester, the course template as well as the Resource Community were presented to faculty through two informative sessions. All faculty scheduled to teach an online or hybrid course were invited to attend. The team has subsequently scheduled individual meetings with faculty to review the instructional design and instructional technologies to be integrated in their Spring 2019 course(s).
Additional individual sessions, group meetings, workshops and webinars have been scheduled for all faculty that may have a desire to teach online courses. The team is also looking into the possibility of including an online informational session at new student orientations. The sessions would provide students with a tool to gauge their readiness to take an online course.
Why it should be considered best practice?
The College of Staten Island (CSI) is now providing a support structure for faculty and students who wish to embark in distance learning through either hybrid or fully online modalities. Providing faculty and students with resources is pivotal to a successful learning environment.
[maybe-frm-field-value field_id=title user_id=current equals=”Easing the burden of Distance Learning”]