According to the ITC Distance Education Survey 2013, the number one challenge administrators face regarding distance learning faculty is ”engaging faculty in development of online pedagogy”. – Instructional Technology Council (ITC)
Like many colleges, online and blended enrollments continue to grow even as overall enrollments decline. The demand for more flexible learning options outpaces our capacity for online delivery, in part because we lack enough faculty with the training and experience in teaching online.
This past year we began offering the Teaching Online Workshop Series – a series of twelve hands-on, competency-based, professional development workshops designed to prepare instructors for teaching online.
The Teaching Online Workshop Series consists of four units:
- Extending your Course with Blackboard Learn
- Teaching with Blackboard Learn
- Designing the Online Course
- Teaching & Learning Online
The first unit of three workshops is designed to introduce the LMS and provides basic use as far as navigation, file and folder management, setting up a grade book and using common communication tools. The second unit (workshops 4 – 6) focuses on implementing assignments, quizzes, and online discussion. The third unit (workshops 7 – 9) introduces the Quality Matters standards in areas of learner engagement, measurable outcomes, and assessment. Finally, the fourth unit of three workshops focuses on design, especially in regards to accessibility, usability, and student support resources.
The hands-on, competency-based model is a natural fit for digital badges.
…digital badges [are defined] as “credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, or other activities.” – Alliance for Excellent Education
We considered three digital badge systems: Mozilla Backpack, Open Passport, and Credly. While all three require that awardees open an account with their system in order to accept their badges, Credly provides a preview of the badge at the time it is awarded. For this reason – and that they host the badges on their own server – we decided to go with Credly. We also liked the ease for sharing the awardee’s successes on social media including Mozilla Backpack, for which there is a building block in the next version of Blackboard.
We put together an organizational account for Lakeland Learning Technologies. The pro account permitted us to have a “verified account” – adding a certain level of authenticity. Awardees can share their badges on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Mozilla Backpack. We will be looking at integrating the badges with Blackboard in the next service pack upgrade.
Earlier this week we began offering the full Teaching Online Worskshop series in a HyFlex format to all full and part-time Lakeland faculty. In an effort to increase capacity we intend to recruit future workshop facilitators from those who have successfully attained a certificate of completion for the entire workshop series.