Building an Online Community: Vista Training StrategiesPresentation Transcript
Building an Online Community: Vista Training Strategies Computing and Information Technology Services Magali Carrera , Chancellor Professor of Art History/Instructional Development Team Leader Damon Gatenby, Instructional Development Technical Support Specialist Jeannette E. Riley, Associate Professor of English & Women's Studies/Faculty Trainer Tracey Russo, Instructional Development Designer
COURSE BACKGROUND & PHILOSOPHY In 2002, the UMass Dartmouth Instructional Development developed a four week, asynchronous course, " Online Teaching and Learning Strategies ," for faculty. Gradually, the training course has evolved into a two week training session based upon faculty feedback received through the training course evaluation. This course has several unique qualities: faculty are required to be online learners before they become online teachers; faculty must complete the training course successfully before they access WebCT Vista sites; the course is team taught by faculty and instructional development staff; and the course grounds itself in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
The course has five central goals:
Reflect on the most important learning objectives you have for your students and how you might assess student progress toward these objectives;
Reflect upon the goals of your assignments, as well as which online tools will most effectively create your assignment online;
Design an online assignment that facilitates your learning objectives and that actively uses online tools;
Learn how to build your course website and administrate the online tools; and,
Develop a list of materials you need to gather and prepare for your online course.
COURSE BACKGROUND & PHILOSOPHY
Building Reflective Practices: Drawing upon the SoTL work of Randy Bass, Eileen Bender, David Gray, Pat Hutchings, and Lee Shulman, among others, faculty are asked to consider critical questions that guide reflective practices:
Who are our learners?
How do we build an online community of learners?
How do we foster an interactive environment?
How are the learners changing as the class progresses?
Are learners able to reflect upon their learning process and
How their learning skills are transforming?
How can technology expand and facilitate the learning experience?
Then, the discussion activity asks: What central ideas did you take away from the readings? How do you think these readings might inform your future teaching practices?
Faculty responses are grounded in their disciplinary perspectives; as a result, faculty share ideas about teaching across disciplines. The outcome is a conversation where faculty share teaching practices and learn from other disciplinary approaches to assignments, thus creating an online community of practice. These conversations continue once the class has ended, which contributes to the campus focus on teaching and learning.
Creating the Course Site: This section of the course focuses on three main areas of online learning: 1) creating course content (i.e. transforming face to face lectures to the online format); 2) creating student to student interactions to enhance the learning experience; 3) course site design and development (using Vista as an instructor/designer).
Best practices: This section of the course discusses: blended and online course start-up tips; effective use of communication tools; the value of narratives and case studies in online learning; effective team management practices. Closing the loop: The course concludes by discussing learning objectives and ways to critically reflect upon course site designs and assignments to determine what works in online sites and what might need revision for future class delivery.
Each course concludes with a qualitative survey. Participant feedback indicates:
Faculty value the cross disciplinary exchange of resources and ideas.
Faculty benefit from the experience of being an online learner (challenge of time constraints, navigating the course structure, technical issues, group members not participating)
The majority of faculty leave with a more flexible attitude towards teaching and are more fully engaged in reflective practices.
Finally, UMass Dartmouth Instructional Development team has seen an increase in workshop participation and interest in new and emerging technologies.