Professors became students at UNC Pembroke recently when 59 faculty members immersed themselves in a six-week certificate program in Online Teaching Excellence hosted by the Office of Online Learning (OOL) and the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC).
As the educational world shifted to virtual learning this past semester, UNC Pembroke’s Office of Online Learning opened its [virtual] doors to faculty. Responding to COVID-19, OOL Director, Dr. Miguel Nino, and his team ramped up their work making themselves available for faculty to lean on as a resource and guide during the shift.
In addition to consultation and virtual office hours, OOL shared a weekly professional development series on their YouTube channel offering much-needed resources to faculty who aren’t accustomed to teaching in a totally online environment.
Nino believes it was his team’s quick response that led to a smooth transition for many professors and such a high interest in the Certificate in Online Teaching Excellence. “The team’s (Terry Locklear, Gene Deese and Valarie Deese)ability to adapt and be flexible combined with their love of UNCP and determination to support our community during this unprecedented time has shown our campus with the right support, they can succeed in a virtual environment,” said Nino.
The six-week community of practice certificate program will teach faculty members the principles behind effective online teaching and learning focusing on the alignment of learning objectives and assessments while assuring accessible and inclusive teaching and learning. The course is taught in Canvas, the program UNC Pembroke utilizes for online learning, providing a unique experience for the faculty learners—an opportunity to experience an online class as their students would. Much like traditional online courses, participants will flow through the course at their pace, week-by-week.
Faculty members are participating in this program with one particular course they teach in mind and each assignment will help them work towards that goal of providing a quality online learning environment.
Dr. Scott Hicks, director of the Teaching and Learning Center, is particularly invested in this community of practice as it is part of a broader vision for the university in developing a long range online learning strategy, which includes comprehensive training for online faculty. “I’m excited to work with Dr. Nino. This community of practice is the first step in a vision to create the culture of innovation and support in online learning that will permeate all of our campus,” said Hicks.
As a professor in the Department of English, Theater & Foreign Languages, Hicks is taking full advantage of the certificate program from the student perspective. He says he is looking forward to being in his students’ shoes, “[I’m] excited to be a student again, working with colleagues as classmates and learning new ways of teaching—so I can offer my students a more engaging and meaningful online course.”
The OOL offered 15 mini-grants for participation in the program–23 percent of permanent full-time faculty members applied. Coming from various programs and departments, grant recipients are Drs. Larry Arnold, Dorea Bonneau, Ki Chae, Camille Locklear Goins, Rita Hagevik, Stephen Moore, Gerald Neal, Susan Peters, Joe Sciulli, Stanley Stratton, Julie Harrison-Swartz, Cornelia Tirla and Jennifer Whittington along with Kelly Blackmon-Moran, MSN-ED, BSN, RN and Brian Smith, assistant professor. Upon successful completion, participants will provide at least twelve hours of peer mentoring to the next group of faculty learners to pay what they learned forward.