Chapter One: Overview

Introduction

In a recent report by Waits and Lewis (2003), an estimated 56% of two-year and four-year degree-granting institutions offered distance education courses in the 2000-2001 academic year, and an estimated additional 12% would begin to offer distance education courses within three years. Of those institutions that have established distance education courses, fully 95% have Web sites associated with these courses, 90% offer Internet courses using asynchronous computer-based methods, and 43% offer Internet courses using synchronous computer-based methods. From these figures, it is clear that the Internet has become an important component in the delivery of courses for a significant number of institutions.

Furthermore, the same report indicated that these numbers will continue to grow. Of the institutions that currently offer or plan to offer distance education courses, 88% intend to increase their use of asynchronous Internet delivered courses, and 62% intend to increase their use of synchronous Internet delivered courses.

While these numbers appear to be encouraging, they do not address an important issue: the lack of faculty members' preparation for teaching using these new methods. A review of the literature turned up little in this area. Simon (2002) points out that the faculty in general receive little or no formal training in teaching methods before becoming instructors in higher education. Many of the faculty learn how to teach in the traditional classroom via the apprenticeship model by observing their instructors and more senior faculty. This model, however, leaves the faculty with no foundation when it is time to move to online instruction. Few instructors have experienced online education as students, nor have they been mentored in online education as graduate students. Without instruction in online pedagogy, the faculty are often left without preparation for teaching in this new medium. As a result, many courses taught online often resemble traditional classroom instruction and do not take advantage of the strengths of computers and the Internet.

Count among these institutions the University of Minnesota Duluth where online offerings continue to grow each academic year. As these offerings grow, so grows the need for faculty development in the use of educational technology for distance education. This need draws increasing attention from the administration and the faculty. We (the authors of this project) have developed a workshop to address this need based upon input we have received from numerous stakeholders on our campus. Our background as Learning Technology Professionals in conjunction with our experience working with the faculty in their use of educational technology enables us to develop a workshop drawing upon proven and successful models of faculty development on our campus. Our work with the faculty includes:

and is centered upon the needs of the individual faculty member.

This electronic book describes in detail the challenges, planning, and rationale that went into developing this workshop. We have also included our assessments used to evaluate the effectiveness of our work—both during and after the workshop—and our interpretations of the data collected. In addition, links to external resources are included within context as well as being collected in an appendix. Most important, this electronic book has been written to enable the readers to think though their own design processes in order to adapt the materials to fit the needs and cultures of their own educational institutions.

Background

At the University of Minnesota Duluth, administrators identified several needs that they felt were best addressed by moving parts of classes or complete classes to Internet-based delivery. We were assigned to design a workshop centered around online instruction skills aimed at preparing the faculty to teach using new methods and media. Specifically, the administration wanted us to offer a workshop that addressed these goals:

The workshop was limited to a maximum of 20 faculty members from all colleges and schools on our campus. The selection process began with an application completed by the prospective participant. Each application included a course the faculty member intended to convert to partial or complete online delivery as a project for the workshop. This application was reviewed by the faculty member's department head and dean. In addition, the dean gave a priority ranking for each faculty member in her or his college. Once reviewed, approved, and ranked, applications were forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration and the Director of Information Technology Systems and Services for review and acceptance or denial.

The workshop covered an eight-day period over two weeks with details in the workshop schedule. This gave workshop attendees 48 face-to-face hours of instruction. Online work comprised approximately six hours of additional work. Participants experienced a hybrid model from both a student and teacher perspective in one of our computer labs. Instruction and assessment was conducted using the same Web-based tools made available for the faculty to use for the development and delivery of their proposed courses. In this way, we continued to use the apprenticeship model of instruction with which many of the faculty were already familiar. The majority of the faculty were expected to bring a laptop computer, but we allowed for those without a laptop or those who did not want to bring a laptop.

Topics covered were:

Rationale

In our work at UMD, we approach the use of technology in education by asking the question, "How will this improve learning for the students?" For clarification, we believe technology is any piece of equipment ranging from the chalkboard to the Internet. Some may question the inclusion of a chalkboard as technology, but at one point in the evolution of teaching the chalkboard represents a radical departure from the established oral tradition. At its point of introduction, the chalkboard becomes a new technology tool for the educator to use or abuse.

The effective use of a chalkboard in a classroom is no different than the effective use of the Internet in a classroom. Our goal is to promote the effective use of technology in order to avoid the gratuitous use of technology. Instead, we want the students' learning to be better than it was before the use of technology. Even though this workshop is intended to teach the faculty to use the Web to deliver some part of a course, the amount of the course to be delivered covers a broad continuum. This allows the faculty to consider the question posed in the paragraph above and to make judicious choices.

In addition, this workshop offers the opportunity for the participants to examine how they teach. The introduction of new educational tools and their uses often stimulates thought about how courses are currently taught, and may lead to a reevaluation and reworking of other courses taught by the faculty.

Book Layout

The layout of this electronic book is as follows:

Chapter One: Overview
The chapter you are currently reading.
Chapter Two: Challenges
This chapter is a literature review and discusses how the literature affects workshop decisions. This directly ties the literature to the practical application in the workshop.
Chapter Three: Curriculum
This chapter is a self-contained chapter detailing how to teach the workshop complete with notes for the instructor(s).
Chapter Four: Workshop Assessment
This chapter contains the assessments used in the workshop complete with results and analysis.
Chapter Five: Recommendations
This chapter outlines our learning, and describes what changes, if any, would be done differently in future workshops.
Chapter Six: Conclusion
This chapter is a brief wrap up of the book.
Appendix A: Resources
This appendix contains the external links used throughout this book.
Appendix B: References
This appendix contains the list of references cited in this book.
Appendix C: Data Final Evaluation
This appendix contains complete results of the assessments referenced in chapter four.
Appendix D: Data Workshop Debriefing
This appendix contains complete comments from the debriefing session referenced in chapter four.

Copyright 2005 Barbara Z. Johnson and Bruce D. Reeves