A Collaborative Approach to Online Learning – Part 1
With Alan Young
Writer: Rob Eaton
BYU-Idaho's approach to creating and teaching courses online is designed to harness the subject matter expertise of its on-campus faculty, the instructional design and operational "know-how" of its online team, and the dedication and instructional skills of its remote instructors.
Having so many parties involved in such a creative process can be challenging, but the synergy of these critical ingredients allows BYU-Idaho to create a high-quality learning experience online for growing number of students.
For this collaborative approach to succeed, it's important for everyone who contributes to understand their role - and to respect the expertise and experience of others. This article is part of a three part series that will provide a high-level explanation of relative roles and responsibilities. Part one focuses on campus faculty, part two on the role of the online team, and part three on online instructors.
Department chairs and faculty are the chief stewards of content. Among other things, they do the following:
- Help decided which courses get created online.
- Collaborate with the online team in creating great courses, helping improve them over time, and keep them synchronized with what's being taught on campus.
- This is accomplished through councils that include online instructors and curriculum designers. Council members listen to each other's ideas with open minds and debate proposals respectfully and rigorously.
- On matters of content, such as deciding on the critical learning outcomes for the course, faculty members have the final say.
- No substantive changes to the content of any course should ever be made without approval of the responsible on-campus faculty.
- Screen online instructor applicants to make sure they have sufficient expertise and appropriate credentials to teach courses in the discipline.
- No online instructor should ever be hired without a department chair or Foundations team lead approving their hire.
- Help provide, as needed, content and discipline-specific training to online instructors.
- Provide critical input to the online team if any content-related concerns arise about an instructor's performance.
- Look for opportunities to reach out to online instructors in their discipline or course and invite them to participate, when possible, in content-specific discussions and training, without underwhelming instructor's reporting relationship to the online team.
The entirety of these articles, along with a table that outlines the approval process for online activities, can be found in the Fall 2012 issue of Perspective Magazine.