The Center for Faculty Development & Innovation is a department that offers multiple professional development courses for faculty. They focus on improving leadership skills, grant writing, mentoring, work/life balance, serving diverse populations, career advancement, research productivity and teaching and learning experience. They now offer new professional development courses to assist faculty teaching online classes.
Not every professor had experience with online classes before the pandemic, but with COVID-19 mitigations restricting most in-person classes, faculty had to adjust to a new standard of online learning. Lynn Bartels, Director of Faculty Development said the transition was harder on some faculty than others.
“Faculty had to pivot to new ways of teaching their courses. For some of them, it was a really big shift. They had never used some of the technology that was available for instruction,” Bartels said.
The CFDI with Instructional Design and Learning Technologies, a division of ITS that helps faculty to develop structures for online learning, wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible. Jessica Harris, Assistant Provost for Academic Equity, worked closely with Bartels during the transition.
“We saw a prime opportunity to offer faculty and staff a varying range of professional development opportunities,” Harris said.
In the summer, CFDI and IDLT held a summer camp for faculty that were concerned about online teaching. It was a week long and Bartels said IDLT offered a webinar every day that focused on everything related to online teaching. They worked on how to do group projects in an asynchronous class and engaging students in synchronous and asynchronous classes, as well as students doing internships or field work during the pandemic.
Associate Director of Online and Blended Education of IDLT Matthew Schmitz said, “Our group helped faculty transition their courses from face to face to online. We helped people build their courses if they needed some content or needed some structure for online.”
While they provided the technical help of the development courses, Bartels helped with identifying the problems that the faculty had, according to Schmitz.
“She’s always an excellent partner to have because she really does help bring the faculty perspective and she was able to come to us and say, ‘I’ve spoken to some faculty members from my own department and other departments, or schools, or colleges and these are the concerns we have.’ She was really able to help us to kinda dig into the needs of the faculty and the students,” Schmitz said.
Surveys were sent out for students to answer on the quality of the new online classes. Harris said these surveys have helped significantly.
“We’ve taken that information and used it to respond and to think through how we can address some of the ongoing challenges. Any time that we’ve asked for feedback, we’ve gotten it and it’s been very helpful information and robust feedback,” Harris said.
SIUE provides workshops specifically for asynchronous classes,“We have several workshops offered last week and this week that particularly address asynchronous online instructional and supporting faculty with students.” Harris said.
Online classes have gotten better than when they started, but Schmitz said there’s always new ways to improve.
“If you were teaching a class for the same way for three or four semesters in a row, that’s gonna get stale for you and I think that in teaching and learning, there’s always new things that can be tried ,and we encourage that too.” Schmitz said.
For more information on this topic visit the website for the Center for Faculty Development & Innovation.