The NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center was recently selected as a recipient of an Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Award. The center’s Designing Personalized Online Teaching Professional Development Through Self-Assessment practice was recognized for its focus on the OLC’s five pillars of quality in online education: access, learning effectiveness, faculty satisfaction, student satisfaction and scale.
The Effective Practice Awards were established in 2002 to encourage members to share techniques, strategies, and practices to help make quality online education accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time. Effective practice submissions are peer-reviewed by a selection committee of online education experts.
Jason Rhode, director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, said, “We are proud of our work in supporting faculty who teach online and we felt now was the time to share our practice with the greater online community.” Rhode accepted the award, on behalf of all the center staff, at the OLC Accelerate conference in November 2017.
At NIU, the center developed an Online Teaching Readiness Self-Assessment for faculty who are developing or teaching courses in new online programs. The self-assessment instrument provides an opportunity for faculty to reflect on their readiness to develop or teach online courses. “We recognized that NIU faculty have a broad range of experience with online teaching,” said Stephanie Richter, assistant director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. “A one-size-fits-all approach was not going to work.” Following the completion of the self-assessment, a personalized framework is sent to each faculty member who completes the self-assessment, based on their individual results.
The personalized frameworks are customized to the individual and contain suggestions for professional development and resources that support faculty in their development to deliver successful and engaging online courses. Richter said, “The personalized framework is just the start of a rich discussion with individual faculty about their development in online teaching.”
The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has administered the self-assessment to over 140 faculty from four colleges at NIU. The response from faculty has been very positive. One commented, “Because of this . . . I was able to be confident that my online course was following best practices and that what I planned was ‘do-able’.”