Online Instructors Forum Breaks Down the Virtual Classroom Walls
With more than 300 instructors teaching online across many of university departments, online instruction is on the rise at The Ohio State University. To help break down the institutional silos and cultivate a community of online instructors, the Distance Education Learning and Teaching Academy (DELTA) hosts their semesterly Online Instructors Forum.
The Online Instructors Forum brings together faculty members from across the university to help improve online learning. During the event, participants chat with likeminded individuals and engage in small-group discussions lead by faculty about the opportunities and challenges in designing and teaching online courses.
As of June 2017, the forum has been held three times with instructors from all over campus coming to talk about their experience. Some of these instructors and experiences include:
Amy Jauch, RN to BSN Program Lead Faculty
Jauch has been teaching for over two years for the RN to BSN online program. After working with ODEE the program revamped their courses, experienced curricular change and worked firsthand with instructional designers for support. She attended the forum to see what others outside nursing were doing to improve online learning.
“We’re relatively new to all the online resources, so any chance we get to see what others are doing and collaborate on new ideas, we take,” Jauch said. “I loved seeing how others structure assignments, their ideas for online learning, and what challenges they are facing. It really is like a giant brainstorming session.”
The forum allowed Jauch to rethink how her program offered online assignments. She then used the session to think through possible updates.
Melissa Beers, Psychology Program Director
After teaching at Ohio State for 17 years and coordinating the psychology program for 11, Beers said her motivation for attending the forum was the join in the community that is typically spread across the Columbus campus.
“Online education is a great opportunity to connect with students anywhere in the world, but it is often isolating for the instructor,” Beers said. “The Online Instructors forum is a great place for people across campus to connect, get ideas, help with ideas and receive the support they need.”
Beers shared that she believes effective teaching is a product of sustained effort, collaboration and institutional support. For her, the forum has helped to encourage a key part of that puzzle. After the forum, she left thinking about how the university could improve support for online learning and how she could help make an impact on her peers.
Karen Macbeth, English as a Second Language Project Specialist
In her years working with the English as a Second Language composition program, Macbeth has looked for ways to provide her department the support they need. One way she has been able to help the administrators and lecturers in her office is by working with ODEE. To help them feel connected to the campus community, Macbeth encouraged them attend the forum.
“I wanted the office to see that they belong at the university, that they are a part of something bigger than themselves,” Macbeth said. “This event helped foster that sense of inclusion – that everyone belongs whether you teach online or in-person, we all can learn from one another.”
Macbeth also left the forum thinking about improving online assignments for their students. After hearing about requiring video responses in discussion board questions at the forum, they decided to implement this strategy in their online courses.
The women agree that participation in this event will not only improve how you teach online, it will broaden your network of instructors at the university.
“My advice to anyone on the fence about attending this event is to just shut up and go anyway!” Macbeth said. “You will regret it if you don’t.”