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Online Staff Development: Lessons Learned

Online Staff Development: Lessons Learned

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Online Staff Development: Lessons Learned

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  1. Online Staff Development: Lessons Learned Donna Baumbach Rebecca Fiedler Wendy Bedwell Carol McWilliams Vicky Zygouris-Coe

  2. Overview • Surprises encountered • Lessons learned • Obstacles still to overcome Presentation slides available at:

  3. Today’s focus: Large projects • How large is large? • Over 12,000 enrollees/ nearly 5,000 completers • Nearly 1700 enrolled now • 67 counties • 4 universities • 200 facilitators • Currently have 55 sections running - a total of 446 sections

  4. Surprise!: Student expectations Like Willy Wonka said, “So much time, so little to do. Wait! Reverse that!” • Some were unpleasantly surprised at amount of time and work necessary to complete course • May result in higher than expected non-completion rate

  5. “They think it’s going to be like their staff development meetings where they can sit and grade papers in the back of the room.” “If it’s online, it’s going to be easy!” Surprise!: Student expectations

  6. Surprise!: Low level of technology skills • Login log jam • Troubles with .pdf files and attachments • Basic skills “In my class, students had technology issues that couldn’t be resolved or students were incapable of resolving them”

  7. Surprise!: Low level of technology skills “Some didn’t know they needed to use a computer!”

  8. Surprise!: It’s never done • ADDIE model looks so simple Analysis --> Design--> Development --> Implementation--> Evaluation

  9. Lesson Learned: Use relational databases Students Section Contact info Course ID Password Track status Sections Start/End Facilitator Help desk Course ID Prob/Resolution Facilitators Contact info Assigned sections

  10. Lesson Learned: Facilitator training • Facilitators provide the human element & some of the tech support • One of our projects has approximately 200 trained facilitators • Training resources include: • A five lesson course orienting to the project & facilitating online • A facilitator support specialist • A facilitator-only discussion board • An online facilitator manual • Satisfactory completion of the course

  11. Lesson Learned: Facilitator training “I like to stay on top of things, but that’s impossible with so many people posting 24 hours a day…. I think there are some vampires in our group.” “When you are facilitating long distance like this you do feel like a ship alone out on water.”

  12. Lesson Learned: Collect data from start • Plan for data collection early. • Databases are wonderful! Automate where possible. • Keep your finger on the pulse of the project • Extracting data from the course management system is time consuming. Start early. • Make a repository of “quotables” and “kudos”

  13. Lessons Learned: from the Help desk • It’s all or nothing • Top 3 FAQs • It’s not their fault! • Or maybe it is… • Tips for providing a help desk

  14. Lessons Learned: Importance of deadlines • Work with experienced collaborators when possible • Plan time to pilot the entire project and react to pilot • Everything takes twice as long as planned “I love deadlines… especially the whooshing sound as they go flying by”

  15. Obstacle: Keeping good people on staff • Experienced online educators are few and far between. • Those with both online experience and subject matter expertise are especially rare birds.

  16. Obstacle: Doing what you want with what you’ve got • Multiple sections of the course shouldn’t need to be fixed in multiple places

  17. Obstacle: Doing what you want with what you’ve got • Not intended to do what we’re trying to do • Can’t get all the data from one section into one file • Pre and post tests are separate downloads • Can’t look at specific quiz questions across multiple sections • Can’t collect data across multiple sections

  18. Current initiatives • Refreshing our Lessons Learned document originally published in 2000 • Available online at • SREB’s MOPD at includes links to resources on best practices, courses, teaching, online, and many other things

  19. You can contribute! Turn in cards to Wendy or Becky on exit

  20. Contact Information Donna J. Baumbach Rebecca L. Fiedler Wendy Bedwell Presentation slides available at: