Notes from “A Professional Development Program for Faculty Teaching Blended and Online” #qmconf2015

Notes from “A Professional Development Program for Faculty Teaching Blended and Online”, presented by Sandra Johnson and Susan Bussman, New Mexico State University, at the 2015 Quality Matters (QM) conference.

In 2009, NMSU began planning the Online Course Improvement Program, which launched in January 2010. The first cohort consisted of 11 One Year Plus Fellows.

Program Goals:

  1. Assist faculty in enhanced web course design and delivery while reducing student’s textbook cost.
  2. Provide faculty ID services with a framework that supports peer interaction and best practices for online learning.
  3. Facilitate participation in national digital content consortiums and relevant communities.
  4. Create and support a culture of quality for online courses taught at NMSU.
  5. Develop a scalable, customized professional development model.

Role of Quality Matters (QM)

QM is the theoretical and organizational framework for OCIP, using QM’s continuous improvement approach. Faculty appreciated that it was research based.


They broke the program into 8 modules (Sept – Apr), with 1 standard a month, so that the professional development follows a predictable cycle. They also incorporate Let’s Talk Online Teaching sessions which are 1 hour sessions based on discussion of a specific topic (and they feed the faculty!). They also include workshops, webinars, and hybrid sessions that all align to the 1Y+ OCIP program.

Blended Approach

Throughout, they use the best delivery methodology to meet the professional development learning objectives. Some tools they use:

  • Adobe Connect
  • Skype
  • PbWorks
  • Google Docs
  • Canvas


Many of their services are available to a global audience, such as the OCIP Resource Center and webinars that have been recorded.

Some program services are only available to NMSU faculty, such as the formal and informal course reviews, LTOT sessions, Open Labs, and other workshops and presentations.

1Y+ Fellowship

  • 36-hour online PD course
  • 12 hours self-selected PD
  • Revise online course to pass an informal QM
  • Collect student eval data
  • give back to larger community
  • Mentoring from ID
  • peer support
  • $2000 stipend
  • plus more…


So far, they have had an 83% completion rate (which is very good for faculty who are busy!). Self-evaluation results have been good:

  • 83% met learning outcomes
  • 83% engaged in the program
  • 100% felt the PD was challenging
  • 100% felt the content was relevant to their teaching
  • 100% felt they would be able to apply the content

Faculty found that following the “getting started” standard stopped the overload of emails she received at the beginning of the semester. Out of 150 students, only 1 emailed to ask where the syllabus was.

Faculty reported that their course was much better organized and structured. Their courses are more organized relative to content and student interaction and engagement.

After 1Y+, faculty said that examining learning objectives helped them seeing where there are mis-alignments in their courses. One faculty member said “I used to think the students weren’t trying hard enough, but now I know it might be me.”

Faculty found that participating in OCIP helped them improve their face-to-face courses, as well.

Being in the student role helped faculty empathize more with their online students. They realized how confusing an online course can be, and how important it is to have clear directions to help students.


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