Although Shoreline faculty have developed an impressive, diverse array of online and hybrid courses for our students, with technology changing at what seems the speed of light and student needs changing at nearly the same pace, there is still lots to learn about how to best design optimal learning environments for our students.
That is why when Shoreline was selected as one of 20 colleges to receive funding from the SBCTC for a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) last October, Shoreline chose the Quality Matters: Instructional Design in Online and Hybrid Courses program.
The $5,000 initiative grants program provides a structure for Shoreline Community College faculty to work with faculty from colleges across the state to collaborate in professional development efforts to address current issues of teaching, learning, assessment and advanced technologies.
Director of eLearning, Ann Garnsey-Harter, wrote SCC’s grant and leads the group. “SCC had committed to participate in the statewide Quality Matters initiative for 2009-2010, so it made sense to focus the FLC around that topic. The faculty members in the group were very interested in exploring the topic of quality in eLearning classes which, I believe, illustrates SCC’s commitment to continually improving online and hybrid instruction.”
FLC members are using a Quality Matters rubric to assess the design of their online and hybrid courses and develop improvements that will make them more effective. They share their experiences – their successes and their questions about using the Quality Matters rubric in the assessment and development of their courses at bi-monthly meetings facilitated by Garnsey-Harter. Faculty who cannot physically attend the meetings and faculty from across the state attend the meetings via the web-based videoconferencing software program, Elluminate, which makes it possible for them to see and hear each other.
Recently, Judy Penn (Biology) and Gloria Anderson (HCI) attended the meeting via Elluminate, as did a few other professors from other colleges.
"Elluminate was easy to use and it was also possible to share views of my Blackboard site with the people at the meeting,” Penn said. “At this particular meeting we were still working out some of the voice transmission issues from participants in the meeting room, but now that has been improved by passing a microphone among the participants."
For those who don’t have cameras and microphones available, they still can participate in the meeting via live chat text messaging that all participants can see.
Participants discussed Standard One of the rubric, which evaluates whether the overall design of the course is made clear to the student at the beginning of the course. This standard helps the instructor to assess whether his/her course has clear instructions for how students get started and where to go to find course components.
Garnsey-Harter has completed the Quality Matters ”Applying the Quality Matters Rubric” training and the “Train the Trainer” course. She will conduct a series of training sessions for members of the FLC and other interested faculty. Several faculty members are taking additional QM courses and will present what they learned at future FLC meetings.
In a recent email to statewide FLC members from Noreen Light, Faculty Development Coordinator at the State Board, she talked about the great work Garnsey-Harter and the Shoreline team are doing.
“Great learning and application of developing expertise is going on in Faculty Learning Communities; take a look at this FLC wiki. The Faculty Learning Community is focused on identifying best practices in instructional design - in online and hybrid courses. Ann Garnsey-Harter, of Shoreline Community College, is the FLC facilitator. Nice work, Ann!”
Garnsey-Harter and other Shoreline participants will present a video at a poster session at the 2010 Pacific Northwest Higher Education Assessment, Teaching and Learning Conference http://www.sbctc.edu/college/_eassesspacnwteachinglearningconf.aspx.
Current SCC members include Donna Wilde, Amy Kinsel, Barb Yasui, Gary Parks, Linda Khandro, Emma Agosta,Gloria Anderson, Bob Shields, Jerry Baker, Steve Bogart, Debby Handrich, , and Judy Penn. All Shoreline faculty are invited to participate in the FLC. The group meets on the first Wednesday and third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 4106, or via Elluminate online. [This meeting time may change for spring quarter.]
FLCs provide a flexible professional development structure for continual learning and updating of instructional knowledge and skills; stimulate innovations in creating experiential, collaborative learning environments; and increase collaboration, to make best use of limited funding.