During the first day of the Spring 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, faculty and staff participated in two one-half day professional development sessions offered in a fully online environment. 47 faculty from across 25 academic departments participated in the morning session High Impact Practices: Fostering Student Engagement, Success, and Retention, which featured presentations from NIU faculty and staff who currently use high impact practices to support teaching and learning. Speakers representing a range of departments including Julia Spears, Stephanie Zobac and Michaela Holtz of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning; Denise Rode, First- and Second-Year Experience; Courtney Gallaher, Department of Geography/Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Alicia Schatteman, Non-profit Management School of Public Administration & The Center for NGO Leadership and Development shared examples and lessons learned while using high impact practices at NIU.
22 faculty from across 14 academic departments participated in the afternoon session Portfolios for Student Career Success, which introduced faculty and staff to pedagogy, instructional design and career development concepts related to the effective use of portfolios. The institute developed and presented by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff highlighted connections between pedagogical principles and portfolio design as well as the importance of collecting authentic artifacts of students’ best work to support development of portfolios that can be used throughout college and students’ careers. Workshop participants were also given a “sneak peak” at the Blackboard Portfolio tool that is currently under development.
The online sessions were hosted using Blackboard Collaborate to offer participants the opportunity to engage from the comfort of their home, office or other site using computers or mobile devices. The cross-platform strategy provided ease of access for all participants using a variety of IOS and Android devices and reduced the carbon footprint by eliminating the need for travel. An online Blackboard Learn community is also available for faculty to continue engaging with colleagues on best practices related to HIPs and portfolios.
The online institute provided significant savings potential for participants. Over 3,900 miles driven, 103 gallons of gasoline (cost savings of $394), and 3,293 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions were potentially saved by faculty participating online rather than driving to campus for the institutes. Faculty indicated that they would welcome the opportunity to attend online institutes in the future.
A snapshot of responses from participants indicated that the programs were well received. Comments include:
Presenters had great, concrete ideas for high impact learning practices.
Great program! Met the needs of a wide variety of faculty members. I also appreciate the ability to participate from home! 🙂
Portfolios may help students see connections among the different things they learn within a program curriculum.