Reflecting on the Penn State ID2ID 2019-2020 Program

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Key Challenges in My Work

At Colorado School of Mines, we are just now launching our online program. This makes us late to the game, but with the luxury of benefiting from others’ struggles and successes in online learning. One of the biggest challenges my team faces is managing the massive culture shift to accept online learning as a valid medium alongside the traditional face-to-face courses at a STEM school. Change is slow in higher education and I must always remind myself of that. Plus, this truly is a benefit to the students at the end of the day. 

In my 12-week long collaborative builds with faculty, I spend a fair amount of time at the front of the build persuading faculty that online is a valid modality and how to manage the pace and expectations of the build. My ID2ID partner, Lucy Wolksi from Arizona State University, also spoke of wanting to get to the actual work of the collaboration sooner. 

Strategies for Tackling Those Challenges

At first we wanted to set up a taxonomy identifying where faculty fall within motivation and building skills, but upon consultation with my institution’s Senior Assessment person, we realized the error of our ways. We were trying to put relationships and personalities into boxes, which is a very black and white way of thinking. Collaborations and relationships are rarely so easily identified and labeled and there’s lots of grey space. In truth, every faculty member we work with is an individual bringing various levels of motivation, concerns, and technical skill to collaborative builds. Our original goal lacked empathy. 

Our goal and strategy to not waste precious time in the collaborative build kick-offs shifted to more of a faculty survey. This survey allowed faculty to self-identify what motivated them, what concerned them, and what online skills they possessed. Having this information early-on would allow us to focus on the strengths and build from this place. Now, if a faculty member shared that they didn’t know how to use a computer, we’d be in trouble, but that usually isn’t the case. I recently identified from the survey that a faculty member is motivated by deadlines, so I knew exactly how to motivate this person. We put those dates on our calendars and so far, all deadlines have been met. 

Insights

There are three main insights gleaned from this experience. 1) It’s always wise to bring in additional support and critical thinking on a project. Inviting an assessment expert into our ID2ID plan helped us expand our thinking to be more empathetic. 2) It’s important for me to understand my faculty collaborators to the best of my ability. By addressing their motivations, concerns and skill levels up-front, valuable time can be saved. This also allows us to get on the same page faster because 12 weeks isn’t much time with a full teaching load or research agenda. 3) I appreciate my institution more now. Though it’s hard to be on the front-line of an online culture shift, I really do enjoy working with faculty at my school. They are brilliant and by honing my ability to meet any faculty member where they are, I can become more effective in my work. 

Special Thanks

Thank you Penn State ID2ID program and Educause for this amazing, free PD opportunity. I has allowed for me to continue my self-guided professional development in a very meaningful way.

PD Focused on Faculty Motivators and Barriers in Online Teaching

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ID2ID Goal 

Our ID2ID goal evolved yet again after completing our first ID2ID Event Synopsis. We learned that in order for faculty to confidently and competently teach online, they needed to be prepared in course design, course communication, time management, and technical competence. Another piece of the puzzle we wanted to explore was faculty motivation. This information would be invaluable to know before partnering on a collaborative course build and thus,  led to our desire to read about faculty motivators and inhibitors.

Motivators & Inhibitors

The article, Literature Review – Faculty Participation in Online Distance Education: Barriers and Motivators by Macquire (2005) gathered perceived barriers and motivators across thirteen studies over 10 years. This literature review opened our eyes to the fact that we had been missing the role an institution plays in faculty’s perceptions. Institutions can provide additional motivators for faculty, while simultaneously creating barriers for faculty. These pieces added a whole new layer of complexity in how we might craft our faculty survey. 

My New Awareness & Development

This review taught me there may be ways that an institution can motivate or inhibit online growth. Multiple avenues of potential motivation need to be provided because not all people are motivated equally. Some faculty want recognition, while others might want compensation or course load buy-outs. Conversely, institutions can create barriers that prevent online growth such as not providing enough support or not allowing faculty intellectual rights over their courses. I realize now that faculty motivation and inhibition does not lie solely on themselves, but in tandem with how the institution is shaping the landscape. Many of the faculty I work with are extremely busy so a missed deadline might be due to a lack of motivation, but rather a lack of institutional support.

PD Focused on Faculty Perception of Online Teaching

Penn State Logo in conjunction with the text A Professional Development program for Instructional Designers

ID2ID Goal Morphed

Our goal for the ID2ID program was to create a taxonomy of faculty types, but has changed over time. We realized that rather than putting faculty into various boxes to help us manage our expectations, we simultaneously realized that it’s not that simple. We decided that we wanted a meaningful way to learn more about faculty before partnering in a course build. In turn, our goal morphed into creating a self assessment that would allow faculty to self identity their motivations and competencies in online course facilitation and design. We started looking at the research and see if anything existed about how faculty perceive online teaching and learning. 

Faculty Perceptions of Online Teaching

The article, Examining Faculty Perception of Their Readiness to Teach Online by Martin, Budrani, and Wang (2019) started to uncover what we were really after; research about faculty perceptions and motivations. The study measured faculty’s attitudes about online teaching competencies and perceptions of their ability to confidently teach online. We learned that in order for faculty to confidently and competently teach online, they need to be prepared in course design, course communication, time management, and technical competence. 

My New Awareness & Development

One of the biggest realizations I had from reading about faculty perception is that my expectation of faculty has been biased and unrealistic. In striving to meet aggressive course build deadlines, while also forming a trusting faculty/ID partnership, I had begun to subconsciously label faculty partnerships based upon their ability to produce or build a course. If faculty couldn’t meet their deadline with me, then I couldn’t fulfill my deadline to the institution. However, this limited view doesn’t allow for me to fully understand the faculty member I’m working to form a healthy working relationship with. By taking a step back and looking at where my partner is coming from and how they perceive online teaching, I am better able to meet faculty where they are. This is a stronger place for beginning an online course collaboration.