W&M Self-Directed E-Learning Projects: An Update

Broadcasting from W&M Weather Vane

Last spring, Gene posted a call for faculty participation in a grant for Self-Directed Faculty Development for E-Learning. This Creative Adaptation Fund (CAF) award from the College supports a collaboration among Swem Library, the School of Education (the Technology Integration Center), and IT Academic Information Services. The objective of this project is to develop Web-based resources and a set of best practices that will help faculty navigate technology enhanced learning here at William & Mary. The result will be a collection of six online modules for faculty development to help them learn the tools they need to embark on their own e-learning projects.

One of the goals of this project is to root professional development in the actual experiences of our faculty here on campus who are exploring technology-enhanced teaching and learning.  Therefore, we have taken a phased approach to module development that began with supporting individual teaching projects this summer. Here’s what the project’s phases look like:

The three phases of our grant project.

The three phases of our grant project.

We’ve finished with Phase 1, and are now in Phase 2. Below I’ve outlined what each phase has or will entail. Phase 3 will need faculty involvement, so keep reading if you’re interested in participating with this project.

Phase 1: Support Summer Teaching Projects

This summer, academic technologists and librarians teamed up to support six faculty teaching projects. We met weekly in the Kyle Collaboration Lab in Swem to explore teaching strategies and technologies, and together we collaboratively planned and designed technology-enhanced course activities and assignments.

Every Wednesday, we gathered for what we called “Faculty Sandbox Sessions” to discuss instructional strategies and to roll up our sleeves and experiment with new technologies. Topics included flipping lectures using Camtasia, exploring digital resources in Swem, discussion-based learning online, and tools for synchronous Web conferencing. Faculty participants and their associated teaching projects include:

  • Inga Carboni, Business — flipped instruction and online student evaluations
  • Suzanne Raitt, English — blended learning in Adobe Connect and Camtasia
  • Patty Roberts, Law — flipped instruction and connection with practitioners in Adobe Connect
  • Robert Sanchez, Philosophy — class blogging (WM Blogs) and microblogging (Twitter)
  • Molly Swetnam-Burland, Classics — virtual reconstruction
  • Sharon Zuber, English & Film Studies — animated tutorials and online peer editing

For an example of one of the projects that has come out of this summer’s work, here’s a video made by Sharon Zuber about writing academic essays:


This video is just one of several excellent projects to come out of this summer’s hard work.

Phase 2: Develop Modules Grounded in Summer Experiences

We are now in phase two of the project, module development. We are working on developing the six resource and instructional modules for Self-Directed Faculty Development for E-Learning. The modules will include pedagogical best practices for designing blended learning that draw from the experiences of faculty at William & Mary. As more professors experiment with technology enhanced teaching, we expect to be able to add case examples to share with the William & Mary community.

In addition to case examples, the online modules will also cover technical and digital resources. So, for example, if an instructor is interested in flipping a class, she might move through “Module 5: Flipping the Classroom” and see an example of one of Jim Barber’s flipped lectures, as well as commentary from Jim about lessons learned. In addition to that, she will also find resources for getting started with flipping a lecture here at William & Mary.

Phase 3: Provide Self-Directed Faculty Development

We hope to have the first complete prototype completed by October.  Phase 3 will be an evaluation phase. We will be looking for faculty to review the modules, and to possibly participate in a facilitated version as a course. Faculty participants in Phase 3 will make suggestions and recommend improvements to the learning modules on e-learning at William & Mary.

One unintended benefit of working on this project has been the robust partnership between faculty from different disciplines, academic technologists, and librarians. We hope that the shared experiences and the collective knowledge generated from this collaboration will provide rich material for this project. If you’re interested in getting involved in this project, watch for an announcement later this Fall about joining us for Phase 3.

About April Lawrence

April Lawrence is the Academic Technologist for the School of Education. A high school English teacher for ten years, April also worked in online course design and development before joining the AIS staff. April is a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy, Planning & Leadership at William & Mary. Her research interests include exploring the intersections of culture, technology integration, and learning.