Chapter Three: Curriculum

Introduction

This section presents the Web Course Delivery Workshop curriculum in three stages: pre-workshop activities, the workshop itself (with links to instructors' notes), and post-workshop support and progress reports. The workshop curriculum itself is slightly modified to make it more generic and applicable to the reader's situation.

Throughout this section, we incorporate our experience in presenting this workshop at our institution with recommendations for future offerings at other institutions. We hope that our peers will learn from how we chose to present various components of this curriculum and be able to adapt it for their situation.

The number and skill level of faculty support staff will certainly vary from one institution to another along with the specific software tools available for use. Where we mention any particular software package by name, please understand that this is merely an example and not necessarily a recommendation. Any of the modules presented in this workshop curriculum can be used in an equivalent program by a different vendor.

Pre-Workshop

This workshop really begins even before the first session meets with two activities: the application and the learner's meeting with a mentor. The application is essential. Even if there are fewer applicants than slots to fill, the application process makes the learner commit to the learning activity and to a project that will put the learning activities into a meaningful context. It also helps alert the department head and the collegiate dean that this faculty member is engaging in professional development since their signatures are required on the application when it is submitted.

The application also helps the instructors prepare for the workshop, giving an idea of the range of technical abilities of the attendees. For our workshop, we requested that participants at least be familiar with some Web page authoring tool. Since we did not have extensive development support, it is difficult to imagine any instructor creating significant online content without a moderate comfort with Web page authoring. Other than that one requirement, we did not assume any other technical skills or familiarity with the software that would be taught in the workshop.

In our workshop, after the applications were received and participants selected, the applicants were assigned to a tech mentor before the workshop began. This mentor was one of the two instructors of the workshop. The purpose of the meeting was to review the proposed workshop project and to answer any questions or concerns that the participant might have.

While reviewing the project, some refinements were made and specific skills identified which would be necessary for completion of the project. This helped the learner and the instructor know what to focus on during instruction and work time periods. In some cases, a software package might not have been taught to the entire group, but one-on-one tutoring took place during independent work time. In this way, the workshop was tailored to the needs of the learners as much as possible and learning could take place in this dedicated time period with a project used for practice on the software. Meeting ahead of time also gave the learners time to purchase specialized software, if necessary, to have it available or installed on a laptop computer before the beginning of the workshop. This avoided delays in getting started with the project and a loss of opportunity that could derail project plans.

The initial meeting with the learner's mentor was also an opportunity to review the workshop schedule and expectations, which laid out in the workshop Web site so that participants were aware of the expectations, especially that they attend every session, complete a final report and complete their proposed project. We also pointed out the course resources that they might want to draw upon even before the workshop begins, such as contact people, resources about online teaching, general Web-related resources, and the library support.

During Workshop

The core of the workshop is the workshop schedule, which has links to the student curriculum pieces and instructors' notes for each. We present the modules in the order used in our staging of this workshop. In many cases, components can be rearranged, although we strongly recommend that modules designed to give learners a student's perspective be offered in the first week. In our experience, the opportunity for learners to experience being an online student before learning how to be on online instructor was very helpful.

For each module, we include our objectives, the teaching method(s) we used, our rationale for the module's design, and any advance or follow-up work needed to set up for the module. In some cases, during the actual presentation of the workshop, we added materials to answer specific questions or meet unique needs. These resources were added to the Website in a restricted access folder and linked from a resources Web page.

Post-Workshop

After the completion of the workshop, focus shifts to providing support, resources, and encouragement as workshop participants continue to learn and apply their skills to their projects. At the conclusion of the workshop, during the wrap-up session, learners should be reminded of the various ways to remain in touch and access help when they need it.

In our situation, support after the workshop could be gained in a variety of ways. Learners could contact the workshop instructors for consultation and follow-up skill refreshment or expansion sessions. They could also work with other workshop participants who have similar interests. In order to encourage continued contact after the workshop, we maintained an email list-serv or group for this particular group of learners and instructors. Also, we maintained a lists of participants and instructors on the workshop Web site to encourage future contacts.

We have traditionally also allotted each workshop participant a given number of hours from student technical support and consulting workers. These students are often very skilled at essential Web-development tasks and could aid an instructor with tasks such as scanning, video-editing and Web site development. Typically, we allotted 20 hours of student development time per learner. While these hours were seldom used, they seem to form a sort of "safety net" for workshop participants as they leave an intensive workshop and give them more confidence as they begin to "fly solo."

Prior to and during the workshop, we gathered extensive sets of links to resources that may be useful to faculty in teaching online. These were a mix of technical, institutional, and pedagogical resources available either from specific University departments or on the Web. While we started with a generic collection built from our own reading and suggestions from past workshops, this list continued to grow and be tailored to the needs of the particular workshop participants. These lists remained linked from the workshop Web site.

Since participants came to the workshop with a course project in mind, encouragement for continued learning and use of newly gained skills was largely provided by the learner's own needs and desires. However, we did provide some outside motivation by requesting that participants share their completed projects with us. These were then linked from the workshop Web site so that fellow and potential workshop participants can see the results of the learning. These, plus a final report provided to senior administration, helped maintain a level of accountability that encouraged completion of a project in an evnironment where too little time often derails good intentions.

Copyright 2005 Barbara Z. Johnson and Bruce D. Reeves