Now that Chancellor Marks has announced that the spring 2021 semester will continue with the four class formats developed for fall 2020, faculty have an opportunity to take a break from teaching to engage in their own learning. Thanks to CU Denver’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and CU’s Office of Digital Education (ODE), professors have many resources to turn them from reactive online instructors to proactive online teachers.
CETL’s Core & On-Demand Courses
Director of CETL Lindsey Hamilton, PhD, recommends more than eight courses, toolkits, and seminars developed by CETL and the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE). For professors who may be feeling overwhelmed, she recommends starting with CETL’s self-paced course, Design & Teach an Effective Virtual Course.
Available to all faculty at any time, Design & Teach an Effective Virtual Course is a self-paced Canvas course. “This course is non-facilitated, meaning that you can work through the contents at your own pace, and based on your own needs and interests,” she said. “There are 10 modules and any faculty can self-enroll at any time.”
Professors who area ready to go beyond the basics of online teaching can enroll in facilitated ACUE microcredential courses that take place at scheduled times: Promoting Active Learning Online and Creating an Inclusive Online Learning Environment. Hamilton also recommends CETL’s two special topics classes: Community of Practice – Empowering Students and Building Community Online (scheduled) and Teaching in Tumultuous Times – Supporting Socioemotional Needs of Learners (resource page, self-paced).
One of the benefits of CETL’s faculty training is that it can be tailored for individual and/or program needs. “So if a department chair asked us to give a presentation on one of our available topics, CETL will come to them and give that particular presentation,” she said. “These workshops are facilitated, meaning a CETL expert will lead the workshop and facilitate discussion with attendees,” she added.
ODE’s Awesome OSM Program
The Office of Digital Education has also been hard at work developing online teaching classes for CU faculty. In fact, ODE’s cleverly titled OSM Program (pronounced awesome) recently earned a 2020 award for outstanding work in online and blended education from the Online Learning Consortium.
OSM—the Online Skills Mastery Program—offers a foundational, eight-week online course for faculty titled OSM: Foundations of Course Development & Delivery. A great place for professors to start, the OSM foundations class includes theoretical and practical skills.
ODE’s Sarah North, assistant director of instructional design, and Lainie Hoffman, senior instructional designer, explain the benefits of this cornerstone class: “Faculty in the OSM foundations course take a deep dive into the theory and pedagogy associated with student-centered online teaching and learning, while developing skills and strategies for a personal teaching plan,” she said. “As faculty explore digital pedagogy, they simultaneously begin the development of an online course that’s infused with their own perspective, passion, and expertise.”
Both CETL’s and ODE’s core courses also serve as models for faculty. In other words, as faculty take the online class, they learn what tools and techniques work best. “Faculty have the opportunity to experience an asynchronous online course from the perspective of a student, gaining valuable insight into the opportunities and challenges felt by online students every day,” North and Hoffman said.
The OSM Program also offers self-paced electives that help faculty with specific subjects. Courses like Providing Feedback Online, Zoom Basics, and Screensharing Basics teach professors (and teaching assistants) how to use technology tools in their courses. “These additional offerings allow folks to narrow in on particular topics or explore a particular tool as it suits their learning and teaching needs,” ODE explains.
Both CETL and ODE offer the same advice for faculty who feel stressed out. “Start with the basics!” ODE said. Hamilton at CETL agrees, explaining that the foundation classes provide information “that faculty can implement right away in their online, hybrid, or remote courses.”