Last summer, the Online Learning Services team introduced a professional learning community for faculty teaching online to come together over issues of effective and high-quality online development, delivery, and support. We, as an office, didn’t have specific goals – other than getting people together to talk about their practice, to “cross-pollinate” ideas between departments, to hear about how our faculty are teaching our students, and to identify further opportunities for professional development and growth.
We hear a lot about how Saint Rose students are different than students at other schools. At the same time, it’s important to us that we always give spot-on advice. In order for us to advise our faculty on online course design, we need to know what is going on in the classroom – and the Learning Community gives us a good opportunity for this.
With the 2018-19 campus adoption of the Canvas LMS, the Learning Community fizzled out as focus shifted to Canvas training and support.
But all was not lost! Over the past few months, as Canvas training has reduced, we brought came back from the Northeast Regional Computing Conference (NERCOMP) with a renewed energy for supporting meaningful dialog around e-pedagogy – beyond the technology! We collected ideas and strategies from other similar offices that support similar faculty communities at institutions across the Northeast. Then, we leapt into action!
This summer, interested faculty filled out a short questionnaire through which they shared their wants and needs for participating. We heard from faculty that they wanted to learn and discuss topics like:
- Canvas best practices
- Making online courses engaging and rigorous
- Increasing technical skills regarding Canvas and other online tools
- Developing online courses or moving face-to-face courses online
- Reasons to move courses/programs online (or not)
Our community grows in scope and implementation each year. We’ve already had great discussions about engaging students, quality measures for online courses, and swapped tips and tricks on general online teaching. A common piece of feedback that we hear is that exploring these and similar topics actually transcends the boundary of “online teaching” and is meaningful for traditional teaching, too. We enjoy hearing that our work is valued by our colleagues!