At 10:00am On 11/10/16 I attended Developing Faculty Mentors: The Low-Stress Option To Faculty Training presented by Geni Wright at the 2016 USCA NDLW Virtual Conference.
Developing Faculty Mentors: The Low-Stress Option To Faculty Training
In her presentation, Geni Wright spoke on how developing faculty mentors modeling best practices for online and blended courses is an excellent resource for new and established faculty. Faculty mentors provide a long-term training strategy that is both cost-effective and user-friendly. Faculty are often more receptive to fellow faculty suggestions for course revisions providing collaboration opportunities and development of future training modules based on common concerns and trends. Faculty mentors have the additional benefit of ongoing professional development, interdepartmental interaction, and are often included in the planning and training for early adopters of newly adopted technology at the institution.
This discussion had no slide deck, so it seemed more like a free-flowing presentation with some off-the-cuff thoughts on the way through. Main topics were folded into:
- Opportunities to enhance faculty training
- The need for more effective peer to peer training
- A way for faculty to model universal design in online and blended courses
Geni Wright discussed that her school contains only 175 faculty members at her school, and this required a team of 3 faculty members and a growing system requiring 1 faculty mentor per department moving forward. Faculty chosen for these mentor positions are ones using the universal design theories and practices in their classes. We need the faculty to facilitate and participate in the program are the ones who are showing the best use in their classrooms.
As a school which participates in Quality Matters (QM), faculty mentors participate in an internal peer review process to assist faculty in alignment for initial quality matters pre-review. Quality matters at their school is voluntary. I found this to be surprising. It calls to mind the idea that schools of small sizes have a lot to offer, but not always what is needed for larger schools. Granted, this goes both ways.
Moving into the latter portion of the session, the speaker discussed accessibility and objectives- issues we have covered heavily in our QM training here on campus, and moved into with EPIC. I was EXTREMELY surprised to find out how many schools are NOT ADA section 508 compliant with accessibility.
Some of this was not useful. A major improvement discussed was the use of Starfish, a faculty student evaluation tool, but the speaker mentioned that many teachers at her college were not aware of how to use the blackboard gradebook, and not all teachers did use it. This was extremely disheartening. However, not everyone can be the best, so there was a good deal to learn overall, just not a lot of it was for me.
Online Teaching Survival Series: Developing Interactive Learning Activities was an online webinar presented by Jennifer Jones
In this online webinar, Wake Tech’s Jennifer Jones discussed ways of keeping students motivated and engaged in an online course. Her comprehensive visuals included all aspects of an online course. This session explored creating interactive learning activities that engaged students through unique, technology driven tools. It had a large component using discussion boards for classroom activity, using groups, wikis, and starfish response system. We briefly discussed using the texting system integrated into blackboard, although most respondents noted that they did not use this item as it caused too many issues with student expectations during the course.