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A Model of Support

A Model of Support

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A Model of Support

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  1. A Model of Support Faculty Learning Communities for Online Instructors Laura McGrath, Kennesaw State University

  2. The Catalysts • Isolation • Stagnation • Desire to learn more • Need for eLearning conversations and networking

  3. The Opportunity • Who: Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning • What: Budgetary support for faculty learning communities (FLCs): ”small groups of faculty who are interested in focusing on a particular teaching and learning initiative”

  4. About FLCs • Cox (2004): “Multidisciplinarity and community are the elements that allow FLCs to excel . . . .” • Statistics  Richlin & Essington (2004) • Example: Kent State • Ingram (2005): “The online learning and teaching FLC uses a combination of face-to-face meetings and Web-based activities to create an environment in which members can consult with each other to improve their online or Web-supported courses.”

  5. About FLCs: Goals • Cox (2004): • Enhancing teaching and learning • Building community • Encouraging collaboration • Increasing awareness • Promoting diversity • Supporting the scholarship of teaching

  6. The Learning Community • Online Instruction: Supporting Teachers, Enhancing Learning • Goals: • Address professional needs • Provide a forum for sharing best practices & discussing challenges • Create a group of online learning leaders • Advance eLearning on campus

  7. Proposal • Rationale: • University-wide growth in eLearning offerings • Limited support for online teachers • Need for professional development opportunities • Informed teachers benefit students

  8. Facilitating a FLC • Petrone & Ortquist-Ahrens (2004): • manage the agenda • create community • promote change • encourage learning • negotiate and locate resources • communicate effectively • Appropriate role for junior as well as senior faculty

  9. Schedule and Activities • Monthly afternoon meetings (November-May, 3:30 p.m.) • Activities: • Introductions/Profiles • Shared practices, successes, challenges • Book & article discussions • Software trials • Online posting (e-mail & group space)

  10. Texts • Conrad and Donaldson’s Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction • Hiltz and Goldman’s Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning Networks • Palloff and Pratt’s Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community and The Virtual Student: A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners • A variety of scholarly articles

  11. Call for Participants • Searched schedule of courses • Invitations through campus e-mail • Filled within a week and a half (coordinator + 6 participants)

  12. Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

  13. Varied eLearning Experiences

  14. Successes • Discussed current scholarship & eLearning best practices • Learned from members’ innovations, successes, and struggles • Tested potential of eLearning software • Established a leadership network

  15. Successes • “This program reinvigorated my online teaching, gave me new directions for my research, and enriched my sense of professional identity.”

  16. Challenges • Unexpected opportunities and problems • Ingram (2005): “maintaining progress and momentum” • Varying levels of commitment • Achieving goals within time frame

  17. Challenges: Asynchronous Component • Vaughn (2004): • Problems = electronic communication overload; option to delay communication • Strategies = involve members in the design and facilitation of online activities; pre- and post-meeting activities  “cycles of inquiry”

  18. Lessons Learned • Meet for at least 1 hour and 30-45 min. • Extend over two academic years. • Year 1: exploring issues, building community, setting goals • Year 2: goal-oriented work • Exploration  action  tangible outcomes • Sustain community over the summer to avoid losing momentum. • Plan for evaluation and assessment

  19. Key Questions • Does assigning participants roles within the community enhance engagement? • How can the community relationships be sustained after the FLC project period? • Should dissemination be a required responsibility for funded learning communities? • How can the FLC’s impact on teaching practices and student learning in online environments be measured? How can FLCs be assessed?

  20. Why a Faculty eLearning Community? • Sherer et al. (2003): “Faculty need an active, connected community to help filter the overwhelming availability of information, understand what they find, and use it appropriately.” • Especially true for those who teach online