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 background information.

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.


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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