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Implementation Issues

University of Central Florida

Looking back on the course pilot itself, what worked best?

The combination of faculty development in preparation to teach mixed-mode online courses and instructional design support for doing the course conversion activities works very well. It allows faculty to focus on the various aspects of teaching and learning in the new classroom environment that will help them and their students to be successful. Also the provision of sufficient time for faculty to prepare to teach online courses and convert existing courses for online delivery is crucial. As do students, some faculty take longer to learn and convert courses than others. Some faculty should not be encouraged or forced to adopt new teaching techniques, especially not at the start of the redesign—this leads to frustration all round and students can get caught in the middle.

What worked least well?

The thing that worked least well for us was attempting to have a whole department agree on the content and instructional strategies to be used in the redesigned course. We have found that working with individual faculty to convert various courses in a program is much different than working with a group of faculty members on a single course. Faculty members? concerns about teaching in this modality must be heard and understood by all faculty and administrators working on the course redesign project. If their teaching style does not translate (or if they believe that it doesn?t translate) well into a mixed-mode course, they should not be included in the program. Also, if faculty members are driven primarily by the desire to achieve high teaching evaluations and are uncomfortable with the new format, they should be left out of the project (perhaps these are the same people).

What are the biggest challenges you face in moving from the course pilot to the project's next phase?

We anticipate no real challenges in moving from the course pilot to implementation in the areas of course content, technology or student attitudes and reactions. The faculty have identified excellent content materials on the Web and have developed a large number of modules for the delivery of content. We will continue to collect student demographics and attitudinal data and use those data as we plan improvements to our program as we have throughout our distributed learning initiative.

The primary challenges we face in the area of faculty development is the provision of support to faculty with very different needs surrounding the same course. The scheduling of classroom space for the face-to-face portions of each section is a challenge for the department chair because each faculty member may prefer a different type of classroom space. Some faculty want to use the face-to-face time for discussions using no technology, while others want to schedule their face-to-face time in high technology classrooms. Finding the precise types of classroom spaces each faculty wants and needs in an environment of classroom shortages is challenging.

Support for the implementation stage of the project from the department in terms of graduate assistant help is the biggest challenge. Departments will need to plan for the workload of these courses and determine if teaching assistants will be needed and on what basis they will be provided. The university will continue to provide faculty development, instructional design, graphics, and programming support for the faculty as they update and change their courses.

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