Indiana University faculty looking for a quick yet thorough orientation for teaching online are encouraged to check out the IU Online Faculty Starter Kit on IU Expand.
"Many faculty members got a false idea of what an online course is when our entire university went online very suddenly last spring," said Susan Hathaway, instructional consultant and online learning specialist with the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at IU Bloomington. "But those weren't true online courses; rather, they were a means to continue classes during an emergency. So now we're encouraging faculty to think a little more deeply. To have an effective online course, you need more planning. And we hope resources like this starter kit will help faculty by giving them a way to start planning that's doable for them."
Hathaway and IU Southeast's David Becker, who is the Quality Matters lead coordinator, created the IU Online Faculty Starter Kit in fall 2018. Their goal? To provide a guide to all of the university's myriad online teaching resources.
"It takes around 200-plus hours to design a quality online class from scratch, which is a lot for faculty to take on, and they might not have the time to dedicate to a series of workshops or a semesterlong training course," Becker said. "So we wanted to provide a lot of information in a condensed version."
The IU Online Faculty Starter Kit covers two main areas: designing and teaching an online course. It also includes details such as course accessibility, university policies and outcomes assessment.
Course modules focus on topics such as "helping online students succeed," an "online teaching readiness checklist" and "designing effective learning activities."
"The starter kit packs a lot into something that faculty can go through in a few hours," Becker said. "It's intended to be a quick resource for faculty to refer to for brief information, and also point them to other resources available throughout the university."
The kit is also useful for those teaching a hybrid course, Becker and Hathaway said.
"What is crucial about designing a hybrid course is the connection between online and face-to-face work," Becker said. "If the work performed in both spaces does not support one another and there's a lack of clear connection, students tend to miss the benefits of both."
Becker and Hathaway said they put the kit together while serving on a committee looking at Quality Matters, a nationally recognized, faculty-centered quality assurance process for online and blended courses.
"During a meeting, the topic of training faculty had come up, particularly adjuncts or folks who might've taken on teaching an online class at the last minute. And we came up with this kit," Becker said. "In no way did we see COVID-19 coming in its development, but I certainly think it's been helpful for some during this time."
Hathaway was quick to point out that the starter kit is only one of many resources available to faculty.
For example, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at IU Bloomington is hosting a series of webinars on topics such as "30,000-Foot Planning: Strategic Online and Hybrid Course Design" and "Assessing Student Learning Online." And IU Northwest's Center for Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning is hosting four-week training courses to prepare faculty to teach online. Register now for the course that runs July 20 to Aug. 14 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to know more about what's offered? Check out the center for teaching and learning on your campus.
Indiana University is looking forward to welcoming students, faculty and staff to the fall semester. The university has provided safety guidelines, an academic calendar, FAQs, and campus-specific guidance for move-in, testing, teaching and learning at fall2020.iu.edu.