Redesign Institute Helps Faculty Bring Their Courses Online

Without a doubt, the demand for online education continues to grow. “Students are asking for the ability to access their class materials anywhere, anytime,” says Deone Zell, Senior Director of Academic Technology at CSUN. “We hear this over and over.”

“But it’s a myth that you can just take a face-to-face class and throw it online. Hybrid and online classes actually take much more planning and management than face-to-face classes,” she said.

To help CSUN faculty members address this need, in June 2012 Academic Technology hosted a two-week Redesign Institute where Faculty Technology Center staff and guest presenters worked side-by-side with 14 faculty members from multiple departments to transform their courses for hybrid or online delivery using a set of seven quality principles.

“Designing classes with technology in mind isn’t about chasing the latest trend; it’s about effectively educating the modern college student,” Zell points out. “Classes that incorporate technology are evolving from a convenience into an expectation.”

Underlying the Institute was a set of design principles called QOLT (Quality in Online Learning and Teaching) which ensure that online courses are designed to enhance student success. One principle, according to Li Wang, the instructional designer who led the Institute, is about picking technology that supports learning, rather than the other way around. Other principles include making the course navigable, interactive and engaging, and building in universal design principles.

The Redesign Institute wasn’t just educational—it was also fun and productive. One day faculty members visited the Daily Sundial newsroom to learn how to shoot and upload video. Every Institute participant was loaned an iPad or iPod touch and walked away having produced a “welcome” video to provide a personal touch beyond static materials for students in their Moodle courses.

Zell predicts multimedia will become a huge part of teaching and learning in the future, with faculty members creating videos to teach and students turning them in as assignments.

Zell, along with Management Department colleagues Gerry Rossy and Wayne Smith, blazed the online-content trail when they redesigned their Management 360 course in 2009. The result: a hybrid class that retained half the content in the classroom and pushed the other half online.

However, without a Redesign Institute to show them the way, Zell and her colleagues spent a year re-envisioning their Management 360 course. The Redesign Institute jump-started this process for faculty members with a two-week boot camp, followed by ongoing work and support over the summer.

“The Institute provides a rapid-fire way to get through the same thing that we did,” she says. “When you complete the program, you will have the ingredients to create your very own top-notch hybrid or online course.”

Redesign Institute attendees agree. Political science professor Dave Leitch walked out with a project he felt good about and said, “I really can’t imagine having done it without them.” Yarma Velazquez, a tech-savvy assistant professor in Chicano/a Studies, said, “It was eye-opening to see how many tools I have available as a faculty member at CSUN.”

Faculty members from across campus ranged from having never taught an online course before, to having taught them for years. This diversity prompted intense collaboration, once the ice was broken.

“You don’t believe it until you see it in action,” said Zell. “Faculty took over — sharing with each other how they use technology to enhance teaching within their classes. Often the instructional designers and others leading the Institute just stepped aside!”

The timing could not be better. Zell says the stigma around online education is falling away, with major endorsement from colleges such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT and the rise of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses).

“It doesn’t replace face-to-face education,” she says. “Nothing ever will. But it increases access and it enables students to learn 24/7. It’s what they expect.”

Interested faculty members are encouraged to apply for the Summer 2013 Redesign Institute.

Materials and resources from the Institute are also available for CSUN Faculty to review. Please contact ftc@csun.edu for access or self-enroll through the CSUN Moodle Community. Additional workshops and consultations are available through the Faculty Technology Center. For more information, email ftc@csun.edu.

Learn more about the 2012 Redesign Institute in the Fourteen Faculty Star in Redesign Institute Showcase Digital Story and watch the archive of the Course Redesign Showcase held August 16, 2012.

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