Online Academy for Effective Instruction

Academy photograph

The PNC Online Academy for Effective Instruction is an online course in Blackboard Learn  offered during the spring and fall semesters for all interested faculty who are looking to learn how to enhance their online teaching skills.  Enrolled faculty members learn how to design and develop a distance learning or hybrid course, as well as how to enhance their face-to-face courses using Blackboard – all while using strong pedagogical principles. The Academy, as well as the Develop an Online Course (DOC) Grant program and the new Distance Learning Mentorship Program (beginning Fall 2014), are informed by research in instructional design and online teaching and learning, including the Quality Matters initiative, a long-recognized leader in online course quality.

Staci Trekles, Director of the Office of Learning and Technology, facilitates this course and provides  support, expertise, and guidance for Academy members.

Learn more about what faculty have to say about the Online Academy in a Valpolife.com article.

Spring 2014 Academy

A new section of the Academy will be open to all faculty this semester. This will run from February 24 through May 2, 2014. To enroll, please contact Staci Trekles, Director of the Office of Learning Technology.

Distance Learning Mentorship Program will Begin Fall 2014

A new program for faculty professional development will begin in Fall of 2014! Even if you are not teaching online, you are still welcome to participate to learn more about using available technology tools to enhance your face-to-face or hybrid courses. Program participation is open to both full-time and part-time instructors.

How does it work?

This program is based on the Quality Matters evaluation system, a research-based rubric and assessment process adopted by many schools nationwide. The intention is to help faculty not only learn how to use the tools available to them to create high-quality online learning experiences, but also to provide them with guidance on course design and pedagogy in the online classroom. For added value, this program also connects faculty with others, creating meaningful partnerships and professional learning communities to provide all faculty with greater levels of support, both within their departments and beyond them.

Like the previous DOC Grant program, faculty participants are guided through the process of designing and delivering new online courses. However, in addition, faculty mentors, or Guides, working with each participant support Course Developers through this process, and evaluate their online courses both before they have been delivered, and after they have been taught one time.

The program spans the entire academic year. In the first semester, Guides and faculty Course Developers attend roundtable luncheons and training sessions periodically while also working together to help the Course Developer create a new course or enhance an old one. The course that Course Developers create or enhance in the first semester is to be taught in the following semester, and Guides will informally review each course before the end of the first semester to ensure that it is complete and of quality before it is delivered.

During the second semester, Guides will meet regularly with Course Developers to find out how the course is going. Together, they will work through questions or problems that may develop during the semester, along with support from the Office of Learning Technology.

Near the end of the second semester, the mentors will get together to review all courses as a group, using the full Quality Matters rubric, to determine whether courses developed by Course Developers officially “pass,” or whether additional work is warranted in order to ensure that the course has met a high standard of quality. The Director of Learning Technology will guide this process, and all feedback will be thoughtfully collected and provided individually to each Course Developer.

Who can join the Mentorship Program?

Any faculty member who has previously completed the DOC Grant or Online Academy for Effective Instruction can serve as a Guide, and a number of faculty have already been invited to consider participating. The program can support up to 6 mentors each academic year. Guides receive $500 per semester ($1000 total) as a grant for their service in this program.

Any faculty member, full-time or part-time, may work with Guides each academic year as a Course Developer. Once a Course Developer has developed a “passing” course and has gone through the entire program, he or she is eligible to become a Guide the following academic year, if approved by his or her department chair.

What are the benefits?

Both Guides and Course Developers will learn a great deal about good teaching and learning, as well as the use of technology to enhance instruction. Course Developers will get access to a personal, one-on-one help and a “go-to” expert to help them through the course delivery and teaching journey, as well as explicit feedback in all areas of course design and delivery that will help them continually improve. Guides will also learn quite a bit along the way, and will get the added benefit of getting to know a new colleague that much better. It’s a “win” for all sides!

How do I sign up?

Guides for 2014-2015 will be selected at the end of the Spring 2014 semester, and they, as well as Department Chairs, will be approaching faculty directly to find interested Course Developers. Be on the lookout, and be sure to email pncolt@pnc.edu if you want a potential Guide to contact you!

Review the PNC Recommendations for Online Courses (PDF)

Literature Review from Quality Matters on the standards of quality for teaching and learning online (PDF)