How to support faculty developing online and flipped courses

Continuous Improvements

In Spring 2014, NLDS offered faculty four options to join learning communities forming cohorts focused on flipped classrooms, technology-enhanced learning in traditional classrooms, online course development and redesign of existing online courses. Enrollment in those cohorts totaled 24 with 10 in Flipped Classroom, eight in Online Course Development, and five in Online Course Re-Design (one faculty member enrolled in two cohorts). This enrollment was significant as none of the faculty participating received funding or course release in order to participate. Two faculty members are incorporating the experience into their sabbatical activity.

The approach remained the same for each of the cohorts and faculty developers will earn certification as Master Instructor in the area of teaching that was the focus of their cohort. The one change in addition to multiple cohorts was the distribution of the quality assurance review throughout the process. The professional development and peer review assignments were revised to allow the development and submission of evidence and examples meeting the QM rubric standards throughout the semester, removing that process from the end of the semester and allowing more time for development. Also, the presentation to department heads will now take place in a ‘faculty showcase’ event to which all faculty in the department and across the campus will be invited.

As expected, without course release, there has been some attrition in the enrollment in the cohorts but those not fully participating remain involved with consultations with instructional designers and ‘lurk’ in the online classroom. They continue with the development of their courses and they remain connected with peers in the process.

What’s Next?

The learning communities (cohorts) will again be offered in Summer 2014 with an expected increase in enrollment due to faculty availability during this time and the expected return of funding provided through the Provost office. Our plan now is to move to one cohort in which the professional development remains an online course with a full day workshop at the start. We realized that the design and development of the various formats share much in common and that faculty are interested in how strategies and pedagogy are adapted for each.

By combining all faculty developers in one cohort, we will foster the sharing of strategies and information common to online, blended, hybrid and flipped course development and the sharing of specialized strategies and skills across the different design approaches. This umbrella approach will allow us to continue to scale up to meet what we expect to be increasing demand with limitations on the ability to match that demand with additional personnel.

From conversations and response to conference presentations, it is clear that others are dealing with the same issues and challenges. We are in the early stages of conducting research on the strategies we are using and invite others to share their experience as we have shared ours. Let’s keep the conversation going.


Meier, D. (2000). The Accelerated Learning Handbook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Piskurich, G.M. (2006) Rapid Instructional Design: Learning ID Fast and Right. San Francisco, CA: Wiley

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

This story was originally published on WCET’s blog by Lujean Baab, senior director of Networked Learning Design and Strategies (NLDS) and Technology-enhances Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) at Virginia Tech.

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