Innovators in Online Learning: Develop and Run Instructional Design Workshops for Faculty



lynnda_brown.pngLynnda Brown is an Associate Professor and instructional designer for Tulsa Community College. She works with faculty providing one-on-one consultations and other professional development opportunities. Her current focus is on First Year Experience curriculum, service-learning, assessment, and accessibility. Lynnda is a Quality Matters Master Reviewer and workshop facilitator.

Jennifer_Campbell.jpgJennifer Campbell is an Associate Professor and instructional designer at Tulsa Community College. In her role, she is part of a team that creates and facilitates professional development. Her current focus is on the developing a Diversity and Inclusion training and incorporating service-learning into online courses. She has also presented workshops on making digital content accessible. Jennifer is a Master Reviewer and facilitates Quality Matters workshops.

Whether it’s integrating technology, cross-disciplinary collaboration among Faculty or learner-centered teaching, Faculty Development provides an outlet for educators to grow their skills in instructional design while learning from others. The Instructional Design team at Tulsa Community College regularly hosts “Design It” workshops for their Faculty. These workshops bring together Faculty from different departments with the purpose of creating engaging content, from the perspective of an Instructional Designer, that will engage their students throughout the semester.

In this interview we will hear from Lynnda Brown and Jennifer Campbell who will give their take on Instructional Design and the importance of empowering Faculty to take control of their own content.

SoftChalk: What Instructional Design model do you follow? Why?

Lynnda and Jennifer: The college does not have a prescribed instructional design model. In general, we follow the backwards design model as described by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in the book Understanding by Design. This design model fits well with Tulsa Community College’s assessment plan. We emphasize measurable objectives aligned with assessments and learning activities.

SoftChalk: How have you seen the field and practice of Instructional Design shift with the higher incorporation of technology in the classroom?

Lynnda and Jennifer: Technology seems to open the door for students to engage with each other in online courses, or outside of class in face-to-face classes. It opens the door for students to interact with each other online, for practice activities that allow for engagement with content often with immediate feedback, and for the instructor to provide feedback differently than they can in a classroom. The discussion in an online course allows students to be reflective and intentional with their responses which is a little different than the spontaneous conversation that occurs in a f2f classroom.
SoftChalk: Beyond the “Design It” workshops, what role does the Instructional Design team play at Tulsa Community College?

Lynnda and Jennifer: The instructional design team works individually with faculty to align outcomes, assessment, and activities. We help individual faculty chose effective engaged learning strategies for their lessons and help them match tools to their desired lesson outcomes.
In addition, we lead design teams for common curriculum like our First Year Experience Seminar and for professional development workshops like our Diversity & Inclusion Staff Development.
We also facilitate workshops focusing on designing entire courses to working with specific strategies or tools such as Classroom Assessment Techniques or SoftChalk design software.
SoftChalk: How did the idea of the “Design It” workshops come about?

Lynnda and Jennifer: Design It is a term for workshops that use technical tools to create engaging or active learning experiences. The emphasis of the workshops is on designing content, not on the technology itself. Creating Interactive Digital Lessons is our most popular Design It workshop. The college purchased a SoftChalk Cloud license, and we wanted to find a way to promote the technology. As we discussed workshop options, it became clear that the focus of the workshop should be on engaging students and not just on how to use a new technology.
SoftChalk: Since the workshops have been running, what has the response been from the Faculty? Is learning more about aspects of Instructional Design something they’ve asked for previously?

Lynnda and Jennifer: Most faculty are interested in finding ways to help their students be more successful. They appreciate the background research and planning that goes into Design It workshops as it saves them significant time. The Design It workshops include opportunities to share ideas with others, and we have gotten very positive feedback about having the time to network and interact with other faculty, especially those outside their discipline. We have had an increase in faculty asking questions about how design affects student success.
SoftChalk: What are the most common questions you get from Faculty about how to design a lesson for online delivery?

Lynnda and Jennifer: The questions that emerge from faculty are often technical. However, when answering a technical question, the conversation frequently shifts to how to best present content, or how the content supports the learning outcomes.
SoftChalk: During the workshops, do you see a lot of collaboration taking place among Faculty from different departments? What kind of suggestions do they make to each other about the content they’re working on?

Lynnda and Jennifer: Yes! We are a multi-campus college, and faculty do not often have opportunities to interact with others outside their discipline or their campus. Faculty listen intently as others talk about their ideas on presenting content or designing a learning activity. They often make suggestions that help each other clarify their directions or the sequencing of content. It is good to have non-experts hear plans because they can provide a perspective similar to a student perspective.
SoftChalk: In terms of designing lessons for online delivery, what are the most important factors to consider when thinking of how to best organize the content so it flows for the students?

Lynnda and Jennifer: Beyond considering the obvious modifications needed to shift from the f2f to the online classroom, it is important to provide concise clear navigational directions.
SoftChalk: Do these factors differ for content created for face-to-face delivery?

Lynnda and Jennifer: In a general sense, not really. All content should be well-thought out and aligned whether it is presented face-to-face or online. Delivery should be planned and sequenced to engage the student in the material. In addition, students often expect to find their face-to-face materials posted online. So again, clear organization is important.
SoftChalk: For other institutions wanting to bridge the gap between Instructional Designer created content and course content created by Faculty, what would you suggest as a place to start the conversation?

Lynnda and Jennifer: A nice way to start the conversation is to create common content to use in a course that gives instructors options. For example, at Tulsa Community College service-learning is encouraged as a high-impact practice. As instructional designers, we worked with the Service-Learning Coordinator to create an orientation using SoftChalk that was appropriate for use in every course that has a service-learning component. Providing the link to the orientation was a nice way to give instructors something useful and show them the type of content instructional design can create.

SoftChalk: What inspires you?

Lynnda Brown: Giving students a chance to reach their goals. At a community college, we see all kinds of students. Many are facing tremendous odds when it comes to successfully completing college. Using my skills as a teacher and as an instructional designer to help students be successful is what drives me to give my best.
Jennifer Campbell: I am inspired when I hear about educational experiences that leave students excited about the content they are studying and when they find ways to connect the learning to their lives.

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