Distance Education Academy - Enabling Faculty’s Transition to Online Instruction

Hartnell College, Salinas CA

In the era of COVID-19, college faculty have had to make the difficult but necessary transition from face-to-face to online instruction. For those who never have taught online, learning new technology and processes can been overwhelming. As an initial step in transitioning faculty to online instruction, Hartnell College developed a two-week Career Technical Education (CTE) online academy to increase awareness about quality course design and use of the OEI’s Online Course Design Rubric. The academy was funded jointly with Improving Online CTE Pathways Grant (titled Ready | Set | Go) and Perkins funds.

About the DE Academy

The first distance education academy was designed and implemented as a joint effort between the Ready | Set | Go Grant Manager, Carol Hobson, the Peer Online Course Review (POCR) Team, Lindsey Bertomen, Tammy Boates, Tina Esparza-Luna, and Nancy Wheat, and the Instructional Technologist, Laura Otero. To increase faculty’s ability to provide high-quality instruction, the academy had three objectives:

  1. Provide a general overview of Canvas and training in the use of Canvas tools
  2. Expose CTE faculty to the Course Design Rubric
  3. Provide an authentic experience for faculty, as a part of a deeper dive into online teaching and learning

To accomplish these objectives, week 1 (DEW1) with Ms. Otero focused on providing an overview of Canvas and its tools. During the first week, faculty were given a module template and were required to create a course shell. Lessons during the first week included assignments, quizzes, video lectures, and discussion creation; and were completed in faculty course shells. Faculty had deadlines, received grades, and completed lessons in the same way a student would.

After completing and passing DEW1, faculty transitioned to DEW2 where they were provided with additional resources designed to guide them toward the alignment of course content to the rubric. Faculty met on day one for a two-hour synchronous Zoom session to introduce the POCR team, explain the process and the support they would have for the week. The session was recorded. There were no assignments provided for DEW2. The deliverables were the orientation and two weekly modules closely aligned to the Course Design Rubric. POCR team members provided a minimum of four scheduled Zoom hours each of the five days for drop-in session. During the week, one POCR team member monitored the discussion, and other POCR members contributed when they had supporting content or additional information. Participant faculty were assigned a POCR team member to officially review their course for completion, and to offer guidance and suggestions along the way.

Who Participated?

Twenty-six CTE Instructors, representing 13 departments, participated in the academy. Of the 26, 19 completed the first week’s requirements and were able to participate in week 2 of the academy.

Two Key Findings

  1. Academy was well received and valued by faculty: The academy was well received and valued by faculty, as noted, not only by comments made in the evaluation, but by the fact that 19 of the 26 participants who initially started the academy completed it. The academy was intense and challenging, but faculty found it valuable and worthwhile. Participants support additional training and recommend that other faculty participate in this academy. Both week’s evaluations provided high ratings (see Figures A&B). Faculty identified what was helpful about the training and included:
    1. Academy design and materials
    2. Implementation
    3. Feedback and response time
Participant Ratings - Week 1 & 2
  1. Institute POCR Team: The academy has not only exposed faculty to the OEI’s Course Design Rubric and enabled them to be more effective instructors, but it has also demonstrated the need to have an institutionalized POCR team established at the college. For those who participated in the academy, implementing the Course Design Rubric will be an ongoing process, and faculty need further support (as expressed by faculty on the evaluation). Some comments related to the POCR team included:
    1. Provided feedback and helpful ideas
    2. POCR members were responsive and engaging
    3. Office hours were helpful
    4. Team was patient, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic
    5. Responses were clear and concise
    6. Questions were addressed quickly

Lessons Learned/ Next Steps

Both faculty who participated in the academy, and the POCR team, recognize the need to adjust the following items for future academies:

  1. Faculty noted there was insufficient time to review all the materials and resources provide; and they would like more time to interact with and learn from their colleagues. POCR team members also noted the academy was labor intensive. Providing an additional week would help faculty take advantage of additional resources such as @ONE modules, and to allow them to apply more aspects of the Course Design Rubric to their course. POCR team members would like more time to assist individual faculty with the application of what they have learned.
  2. Similarly, both faculty and POCR team members noted the need to develop either pre-requisites, a foundations class, or tiered academies (beginners, intermediate, or advanced) to better address the needs of faculty.
  3. As noted by some faculty, and by the POCR team, the first- and second-week’s content needs to be better aligned. Future academies would better transition from week one to week two, building on Canvas skills taught in the first week.
  4. POCR team members and faculty agreed that additional resources and time needs to be dedicated to assisting faculty with accessibility.
  5. Faculty mentioned having difficulty motivating themselves to review the modules. In addition, POCR team members did an extraordinary job of answering questions and assisting faculty. Faculty also suggested having opportunities to learn from each other. Increasing synchronous opportunities may better motivate faculty, clarify answers, and learn from others.

For more information about how to set up a distance education academy, or to learn more about Hartnell College’s distance education academy, please contact Carol Hobson.

Carol Hobson
Distance Education Coordinator

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District or those of the California Community College Chancellor's Office.

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This work by California Virtual Campus - Online Education Initiative, a project by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyright © 2024 by California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.