Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Motivating Instructors through Innovative Technology and Pedagogy

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Motivating Instructors through Innovative Technology and Pedagogy

Article excerpt

As with the higher educational landscape, faculty development programs for online and blended teaching must continue to adapt in order to more effectively engage with online and blended instructors who employ increasingly sophisticated approaches and tools for teaching. Many of the innovative ways that instructors can engage students in their courses can be further leveraged in faculty development programs to increase engagement, learning, and success for faculty participants.

The 2015 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) survey identified faculty development as the top content anchor for key issues in teaching and learning. Several other identified themes, including learning space designs, games and gamification, mobile learning, and learning analytics, have the potential to inform how institutions approach online and blended faculty development. While pedagogical best practices cannot uniformly translate into faculty development and training, this article will aim to explore the varying ways that technology and pedagogical innovations can transform the online and blended faculty development experience.

Online and blended faculty development often begin with meeting instructors "where they are at" in terms of both technology and pedagogy. Instructors moving from a face-to-face classroom to the online or blended environments are faced with the challenge of redesigning activities that engage their students while being physically separate from them. Conceiçao (2006) suggests that the changing role of the instructor from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side" exists in the online environment as well as in face-to-face classes. Additionally, while instructors in Conceiçao's study reported an increased workload due to the length and depth of engagement needed in online courses, they reported the experience of teaching online being rewarding in new ways (e.g., reflecting on how to deliver instruction in a new way, getting to know learners better, and attaining knowledge from learner interaction, etc.). Of course, delivering instruction in a new way can be challenging as well. Taylor and McQuiggan (2008) surveyed faculty at the Penn State World Campus faculty and found that instructors needed assistance with various online design (e.g., choosing appropriate technologies for their needs, converting course materials for online use, creating effective online assessments, creating video clips, and assessing student progress) and delivery (e.g., facilitating online discussions, building relationships, increasing interactions, managing workload, providing meaningful feedback, etc.) topics. Additionally, faculty in their study revealed a preference for self-paced materials to learn how to teach in the online environment. Sherer, Shea, and Kristensen (2003) found the utilization of the community of practice framework for faculty development in an online portal to be an effective way to engage instructors in topics because it was pervasive, was sustainable, connected people more, and documented resources and conversations, and Austin and Sorcinelli (2013) suggest that future of faculty development in that it is likely to be influenced by fiscal constraints and calls for accountability, the increasing diversity of students, the opportunities and challenges of technology, the demands for interdisciplinarity, changes in faculty characteristics (e,g., early career colleagues wish for a work-life balance),and shifts in appointment patterns (e.g., increasing number of non-tenure track and part-time faculty members). This changing climate - especially in regards to technology - requires faculty development programs that can innovate while meeting the shifting needs of their participants.

Online and Blended Faculty Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) offers more than 30 online degrees and certificates as well as over 700 online and blended courses each semester. To support instructors (both faculty and academic staff) in designing courses for the online and blended environments, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) offers the Online and Blended Teaching Program (OBTP). …

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