Hello! My name is Mary Hales and I am honored to participate as a Guest Lecturer
for the Illinois Online Network. I will be talking with you about the importance
of faculty support to online learning, but first want to give you a little
I have been teaching adults for the last 30 years. I started out as a teaching
assistant at the University of Illinois while I was in graduate school. After
graduation I went to work in the corporate world as the Training Manager of
a large financial institution and also became an adjunct faculty member at
Lewis & Clark, teaching psychology and business classes. I was very happy
as an onground instructor and rarely gave thought to the incorporation of
technology into my classes.
THE IMPORTANCE OF
FACULTY SUPPORT TO ONLINE LEARNING
About 5 years ago, the distributor (Consulting Psychologists Press) for the
assessments (Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) we
use in one of our psychology courses announced that they were going to make
them available over the Internet and they were looking for schools to participate
in the beta test of the system. Since I coordinate the teaching of this course
on our campus, as well as in 18 schools throughout the state, I thought this
would be a perfect opportunity for us. We would be able to administer the
assessments over the Internet and process and print the results on campus.
This would give us immediate results rather than having to wait two weeks
for them to return from California. Although the beta test was painful, the
long-term results were great.
One day, our Academic Dean approached me and asked if I would consider converting
the independent study version of our career development course for online
delivery. My first reaction was "What in the world are you thinking?" You
want me to teach my course over the Internet! I had no idea what that would
entail. There were not very many courses around to look at, or a course management
system to use as a model. I was entering the unknown. But since I am always
up for a new challenge, I said sure. Since the Strong and Myers Briggs were
key components of the course, having them online already made my job much
easier, but how would I interpret the results? We worked on the course, offering
it for the first time in January 1998.
As online course development continued at Lewis and Clark, we knew that supporting
our faculty would be critical and have attempted to meet their on-going needs.
I will share with you some of the things we are doing, and welcome your questions.
Each semester we have a faculty in-service week, prior to the start of each
term. We offer a variety of seminars for faculty to learn new skills or enhance
the skills they have. This year we have offered sessions in WebCT, beginning
and advanced web page design, Creating a Web Quest, and a variety of Microsoft
products. We also brought in speakers from the Illinois Online Network to
conduct two session: Making the Shift to Web-based Teaching and Learning,
and Instructional Design for Online Courses.
We also try to conduct a series of training programs each summer. Although
many of the faculty are not teaching in our summer sessions, we find that
they enjoy attending workshops to help them prepare for the fall semester.
Last summer we ran two, 4-week sessions on How to Create a Course in WebCT,
and 2 sessions on Web Page Design. Both of these topics proved to be very
popular, and we plan on conducting additional sessions this summer.
One of our most useful support tools for faculty is our monthly User Group
Meetings. On a monthly basis, we schedule a User Group Meeting where faculty
who are teaching either a web-delivered course or a web-enhanced course can
come together to share ideas, problems, and learn new skills. We offer the
meetings on 2 separate days to try to meet the needs of all the faculty who
wish to attend. An agenda is prepared in advance and sent to the faculty to
let them know what our special topics will be each month. In addition to sharing
ideas, we always include guest speakers or a new online skill for faculty
to learn to incorporate into their courses. This month we had a presentation
on Netscape Composer and basic HTML. Faculty always share ideas with one another
about what is working in their classes, suggestions on handling problem students,
course development and instructional design. These sessions are also occasionally
attended by faculty who just want to learn a little more before deciding to
web-enhance one of their classes.
One month we spent the session talking about ways to improve the quality
of online discussions and discussing what makes a good online student. Resources
from ION and the Illinois Virtual Campus are often incorporated into our sessions.
Resources are always shared with our faculty and articles and relevant information
is sent to them via e-mail. We are currently creating a website for our faculty
where a variety resources will be available to them. This will include websites
to help with course design, teaching strategies, technology tools, etc, as
well as suggestions from their colleagues on what is working well. Sample
letters to students, evaluation forms and presentations will also be included.
We look forward to completing this by the end of the semester.
Providing faculty with the resources and support they need will remain a
high priority at Lewis and Clark. I welcome any questions or comments that
you have. I will look forward to hearing from you.
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