Pam Northrup, Ph.D. Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Distance and Continuing Education University of West Florida.

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1 Studio e TM : A Professional Development Model for elearning Pam Northrup, Ph.D. Associate Provost, Academic Innovation, Distance and Continuing Education University of West Florida Introduction Online learning is growing at unprecedented rates in U.S. colleges and universities, with nearly 3.9 million students participating in at least one online course during fall 2007 which is a 12.9% growth rate from (Allen & Seaman, 2008). This widespread adoption of online learning at many institutions and choices that students are making to take online courses over face-to-face courses is causing many institutions to re-think enrollment management plans and future investments for overall campus growth. Although many students participating in online learning are located on college and university campuses or within acceptable driving distances, there are many other students that require access to needed courses, whether the student is a stay-at-home mother, deployed soldier or sailor, or a person that holds multiple jobs to make ends meet, the options for educational access are stronger than ever before. This transition to teaching and learning online is a very different strategy than the time honored traditions of classroom based didactic instruction and meets resistance from faculty who question how online teaching and learning could possibly have the same level of quality as a face to face course. Although this topic has been research extensively in the literature and many times evidenced that learning outcomes are consistent in both environments, if not better online (Olsen & Wisher, 2002), it continues to be an issue on university campuses in discussions of quality, student engagement and academic integrity. Although there are many aspects of an organization that merit consideration when investing in a distance learning strategy, faculty success is a critical variable in the equation. At the University of West Florida, a conceptual framework for systemic distance learning success was developed to engage each level of the institution in planning and continuous improvement to meet university-driven goals. This paper will focus on how to establish a faculty development series that supports a comprehensive distance learning strategy. Systemic Distance Learning Conceptual Framework Universities engaging in a comprehensive distance learning strategy should take into consideration the components of the distance learning system and plan both within and across each of the areas. Woven through several notable models are the components of faculty, students, excellence in teaching, quality of courses, sustained funding, and ongoing improvements., Sloan-C established the Pillars of Effective Practice (Moore, 2005) that are outcomes-based with a series of best practices from institutions using the Pillars. The Department of Defense has created guidelines for systemic distance learning effectiveness that align closely to regional accreditation guidelines and to the relationship that the military voluntary education community has with colleges and universities doing business. Regional accrediting agencies have also highlighted key areas to be addressed when implementing distance learning on a university or college campus such as the SACS Distance Education Policy Statement (2006). These models reflect a comprehensive distance learning strategy as opposed to other exceptional models dealing exclusively with the quality of an individual online course. The University of West Florida s Academic Technology Center (ATC) has taken several models of effective practice and established a conceptual framework serving as the organizer for all distance learning activity (see Figure 1) with teaching and learning at its core. It is easily evidenced that the effects of one part of the conceptual framework can be felt in other Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 1

2 areas immediately. For example, if students are receiving poor student services, regardless of how well a course is designed, it will not be a quality experience for the student, who may choose to attend classes at another institution. Faculty responsibility for online learning should be focused on teaching, mentoring and creating a community of engaged learners. The other components of the system are critical for planned change in an organization, but not the responsibility of an individual faculty member to handle alone such as solving technical issues within a LMS, providing consistent student support services, or handling military tuition assistance. By addressing all areas of the conceptual framework, the student has a good teaching and learning experience. Figure 1. Conceptual Framework for Distance Learning Effectiveness Strategic Planning At many institutions, faculty development is available for those wishing to build online and hybrid courses, however, fewer institutions participate in strategic planning to determine programmatic areas and certificates that can be delivered as a package online. Institutionally, it is critical to have a plan for the creation of online programs and certificates so that limited development dollars can make a broader impact. Decisions about online program offerings should tie directly to the enrollment management plan. In some cases niche programs do very well online, in others, they are niche because there are not many students interested in a specific area of study. An inappropriate program selection for online course development and delivery can be a costly mistake. For many years, courses and programs developed and delivered online were based on faculty desire to teach online. With limited resources, an individual faculty member s desire to build an online course is not enough. The financial implications of course development and how that ties to an overall strategy for online program delivery are better indicators of long term success. At the University of West Florida, each college dean establishes his or her distance learning priorities and identifies the courses planned for online learning development during each academic year. Once college level decisions have been made, specific faculty are invited to attend a yearlong course development and implementation process called Studio e TM. Studio e TM : The Process Studio e TM is a Sloan-C 2008 award winning professional development process designed to assist faculty in the development and implementation of a fully online course. In Studio e TM, faculty design and implement a fully online course with the assistance of faculty expert at teaching online, instructional designers and multimedia specialists. The goal of Studio e TM is to provide the tools needed to develop a fully online course with major outcomes that include: Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 2

3 Develop a pedagogical framework for a fully online course. Incorporate engaging online teaching and learning strategies aligned to specific course learning outcomes. Design an assessment strategy aligning to course learning outcomes Promote an interaction and student engagement strategy through communications and course management. Successfully implement online course through high quality instruction designed for student engagement and ongoing dialog and feedback from instructors. Faculty participating in Studio e TM complete a process lasting two academic semesters. Faculty selected by their college dean for participation in Studio e aligned to the college s strategic goals for distance learning include: (1) nine hour professional development course; (2) two hour Tool-based Matinee Sessions; (3) Instructional Design Consultations; (4) Peer Review Showcase; (4) Course Implementation- Mid Course Student Review; (5) Course Implementation-Final Course Student Review. Professional Development Course. Faculty attend three sessions at the beginning of the process that include instruction on planning an online course, instructional strategies, and assessment methods. Faculty are also provided with either basic Learning Management System (LMS) training or a refresher course that includes new tools and features. Some faculty participating in this process have used the university LMS previously, while many others are experiencing it for the first time. The sessions are highly engaging and led by two faculty members who teach online. The course provides significant numbers of faculty best practices for developing online courses and is intended to spark some new ideas for engaging students online. Tool-Based Matinee Sessions. Based on the course plans that are developed during the professional development course, two tool-based solution sessions are hosted during the semester for faculty to attend. The intent of the sessions is to walk away with a complete object that can be used within the online course. Recent tool-based matinee sessions include: Using Video for Online Leaning, Creating Icebreakers that Work, Using Games in the Online Course, Webquests for Student Engagement, Narrating Lectures, and Using Elluminate Live for Web Conferencing. Results Faculty provide end-of-course information at the end of each Studio e session as well as a survey that was sent out to all faculty that have attended Studio e to date. Overall, faculty represented all three colleges, with more recent attendees having little or no online learning development experience with 63% of all attendees having taught two years or less online. Faculty represented lower division (33%), upper division (27%), and graduate (40%). For all faculty attending Studio e, 85% of the faculty were extremely satisfied/satisfied with the course and felt like it assisted them in developing their fully online courses. As evidenced from the open-ended comments, the best practices that have evolved (http://uwf.edu/atc/design/bestpractices.cfm), and the fact that each semester we continue to get requests for this training session, it is indicated that there is a high degree of faculty satisfaction. As well, the deans of each college are supportive of Studio e and have even funded it when dollars aren t available otherwise. Open ended comments from previous participants include: Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 3

4 The ability for hands-on practice, interaction with other faculty (non ATC) who are trying to learn the same as you and the patience of the ATC instructional faculty Suggestions and resources provided by the Studio e TM staff and faculty discussion with other participants Discussing and viewing other developer's work through the process was helpful. The ATC staff support during development and through the delivery of the course was invaluable. Technical instruction (on how to design course, assess online, use videos and audio files). Hearing both staff's AND participants' experiences, ideas, successes, and non-successes - assistance from staff in class and one-on-one - experienced staff sharing expertise - handouts - helping us personalize our courses, addressing our individual requirements, and answering our questions It forces you to work on the course in a timely manner. Getting ideas from others. Studio e TM was a great experience and it helped to see what others were doing and to learn about student engagement as well as new technology Small group attending sessions allowed for more in-depth discussion. This staff development allowed faculty unfamiliar with online instruction the opportunity to hear from individuals who had created and taught online courses. Overall, faculty satisfaction included the ability to collaborate with other faculty and the hands on practice were very valuable. Specific program content that was rated extremely valuable and valuable at 85%-90% include planning for online courses, instructional strategies for teaching online, generational differences and working one-to-one with instructional designers. Outcomes of high quality courses through this model provides high levels of student satisfaction and exceptional course completion rates that are as high as 96%, with a university average around 90% course completion. Summary Studio e TM is a portion of the Academic Technology Center s overall conceptual framework and mission for the University of West Florida s distance learning initiatives. Creating quality in online courses requires a systemic view of the university including alignment to mission, high quality instruction, faculty support, student support and access to education, and promoting continuous improvement through data collection, analysis and ongoing revision to the distance learning system. Studio e TM provides a framework for high quality instruction and ongoing faculty support. Overall, faculty participants reported satisfaction with the Studio e TM training program and this training program was awarded the 2008 Sloan- C award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Programs. Reference Allen, I. E & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course: Online education in the United States Babson Survey Research Group. Needham, MA. The Sloan Consortium. SACS (2006). Distance education policy statement. Retrieved on March 1, 2009, from Moore, J.C. (2005). The Sloan consortium quality framework and their five pillars. Sloan-C Consortium. Retrieved on April 1, 2009, from Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 4

5 Olson T., & Wisher, R.A. (2002). The effectiveness of Web-based instruction: An initial inquiry. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 3(2). Author Summary Dr. Pam Northrup is the Associate Provost for Academic Innovation, Distance and Continuing Education at the University of West Florida. She has spent several years investigating how innovation and technology can be used for teaching and learning. Most recently she has been involved with the U.S. military in deploying mobile devices to service members for the continuation of academic coursework while deployed. She also has spent a number of years developing and implementing online programs with direct responsibility for all course design, development and implementation at the University of West Florida. Address: University of West Florida University Parkway Pensacola, FL URL: Phone: Fax: Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 5

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