Online Professional Development 110410

Online Professional Development for Transformative Pedagogy

Presentation proposal for the Sloan-C 16th Annual International Conference on Online Learning: Technology and Emerging Learning Environments

November 4, 2010 – 2:25pm

Track: Faculty Development and Support, November 4, 2010 – 2:25pm

Lead Presenter: David Stoloff (Eastern Connecticut State University, US)

Antigua 1,  Session Duration: 35, Session Type: Individual Presentation

By David L. Stoloff, Ph.D., Professor, Education Department, and Director, Center for Educational Excellence, Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham Street, Webb Hall Room 150, LIB 431, Willimantic, CT 06226

tel. no. (860) 465 – 5501, or CEE – 465-4567, 465-0028

 fax. no. (860) 465 – 5099, email: stoloffd@easternct.edu

Research continues to show the important role online faculty play in student learning. It still seems to be the case, however, that many faculty are reluctant to teach online. Papers submitted to this track should address issues of both faculty training and faculty support in the context of faculty satisfaction or instructional effectiveness. Papers submitted to this track might consider, for example: innovative faculty development programs; quantitative and qualitative research on faculty satisfaction with online and/or blended teaching; studies of the relationship between faculty development and faculty and student satisfaction; studies of the relationship between faculty effectiveness and student retention and achievement; administering faculty development efforts in online and blended environments; and unique approaches to faculty support. Track Chairs: Alexandra Pickett (SUNY Learning Network) alexandra.pickett@sln.suny.edu, and Richard Schumaker (UMUC), RSchumaker@umuc.edu

Presentation notes

At a public liberal arts university, a blended approach encouraged professional development focused on asset-based learning approaches.  Dynamic threaded discussions and “deliverables” ranging from philosophical essays to classroom rules of engagement introduced part-time and full-time faculty members to the applications of online courses to enhance student achievement, retention, and graduation. 

To explore the use of asynchronous faculty development and to encourage more part-time and full-time faculty engagement, the professional development center at a public liberal art university, with the support of grant funding, developed an online faculty development workshop on “Transformational Learning and Teaching”.  Following a call to the entire part-time and full-time faculty members via email, 36 part-time and full-time faculty members were initially interested in participating in this online course.  There were two introductory meetings, face-to-face teas, for the course that draw up to 20 participants. 

The online seminar goals on the topic of “Transformative Learning and Asset Based Approaches to Teaching” were to:

1. Understand and be able to apply the principles of transformative learning and asset based pedagogies. 

2. Understanding our students

Understand the needs and strengths of low income students, first generation students and students of color at our University. 

3. The Learning Experience

Learn strategies that apply best-practice principles and your own personal strengths to enhance the learning experiences of Eastern students. 

4. Create and Maintain a Responsive Learning Environment

Understand the use of assessment in the process of creating and maintaining a responsive learning environment. 

The expectations of the participants were:

Every member must participate weekly in the threaded discussion. The final product, “deliverable” of the course will infuse this learning into Eastern’s curriculum and practices. Examples of “deliverables” included:

  • redesigned course content
  • A 30 minute presentation to the group of faculty regarding new learning from this course
  • A presentation to a department meeting regarding learning and redesigned course content
  • Presentation at a showcase of enhanced educational effectiveness
  • Other relevant products (essays, articles, videos, etc.)

During the online course, 22 faculty members contributed to threaded discussions and 15 completed final course projects.  It was found that more part-time faculty members actively participated in the discussions.  There were a wide-range of projects developed by the faculty, including a research study on the reactions of first year students to online courses, guidelines for effective peer review within introductory writing courses, an analysis of the effectiveness of service learning projects on student achievement, an essay on institutional impediments to student engagement in the modern academy, the uses of popular media in the curriculum, the development of rules of classroom engagement, using teaching and learning styles creatively, an analysis of campus tutoring, and a curriculum on creative writing for community activists.  Because the participants had become familiar with virtual discussions, several continued to make use of the online course to extend their discussions. 

The goals of this presentation would include –

1)   Participants will discuss their own uses of online and/or blended courses to expand professional development opportunities on their campuses.

2)   The presenter will describe his university’s process of developing a blended course for faculty development on the topic of transformative pedagogy. 

3)   The presenter will also summarize the content of the faculty’s threaded discussions, with an emphasis on cultural collaborations and communications. 

4)   The presenter will showcase the range of the faculty’s “deliverables,” final course projects. 

5)    Participants will conclude with a discussion of next steps in expanding the uses of blended and/or online courses for part-time and full-time faculty development. 

Other anticipated outcomes of this session would be to convene a learning community that might initiate further virtual discussions on the role of online course management systems for faculty professional development.

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