Thursday, January 21, 2016

Innovative Approaches to Faculty Development for Technology Integration: Evaluation of a Three-Tiered Model

Margaret Hunter, School of Educational Leadership for Change

College students expect technology to be a part of their learning environment, regardless of delivery format. Employers expect college graduates to be digitally fluent. However, colleges and universities have not prepared faculty to integrate technology into teaching practice, creating a gap between the faculty’s skill set and the demands of students and employers. Even though integration of technology and pedagogy is critical to faculty developing digital fluency, colleges have isolated technology from pedagogy. While learner-centered, interactive teaching methods are the most effective way to reach students, most faculty still use the lecture as their primary teaching mode.

Colleges must examine new ways to train faculty to use technology in tandem with pedagogy. This study examined the use of a three-tiered model to train faculty to create an engaging, interactive learning environment. The study was conducted at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Training offered to full- and part-time faculty members included a 5-day boot camp, an online course, and personal coaching during their first delivery of the alternative format. The training was developed as a result of a college-wide initiative to train all faculty to teach in alternative delivery formats. The focus of the training was blended delivery. The study looked at how the model affected instructors’ integration of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge, as well as how the model affected faculty confidence and student learning. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected via surveys, faculty participant blog entries, and instructor observations.

The implications of the study are that the model helped faculty to develop confidence, create engaging course content, and form a teaching and learning community. Participants experienced increased confidence levels as they used technology in three contexts: during the boot camp, in the online portion of the course, and in their classrooms. As faculty confidence increased, course content became more engaging for students. During each tier of the model, faculty became more fluent in integration of technology, pedagogy, and course content. The study also revealed the importance of a teaching community for faculty. Faculty formed relationships during the boot camp that created a community that will outlast the course.

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