By Sally Cunningham and Alisha Winter
The OLTC Program
When instructors sign up for the Online Learning and Technology Consultant (OLTC) program, we have a personally tailored process that we go through with each instructor and their courses. We always leave room for discussion in the conversation in order to find exactly what the instructor needs or wants from their collaboration with us. Following is an in-depth breakdown of what it looks like to participate in the OLTC program as an instructor.
The OLTC mandate is to “Design for Delight” focusing on: Community, Engagement, Accessibility, Inclusivity, and High Impact Practices (HIPs). Online Learning & Technology Consultants are partners with instructors in empathetic design. Our goal during our partnership with instructors is to establish a collaborative work environment aligned with the instructor’s teaching values and course objectives. Through open and honest discussions, the OLTCs hope to create a safe and brave space for dialogue. We utilize the multiple perspectives the OLTC program offers to support effective and efficient courses that benefit both students and instructors alike.
Needs Assessment and Initial Meeting
As Online Learning and Technology Consultants, we begin our initial meetings with instructors with a needs assessment. We go through a whole host of questions that help us develop the best picture of how an instructor likes to work and how their classroom is designed. These questions cover the logistical (course code, expected enrolment, etc.) and the style of teaching (what does a normal week look like in your course?). The relationship between the OLTC team and the faculty member is one based on respectful collaboration; our role is to help instructors create a better learning experience for their students – and ideally for the instructors, too. From here, we see how we can best support that instructor’s specific teaching style through the effective use of technology and also fundamentals like alignment and design. We are always focused on helping instructors take their vision and values and anchor them in practice every step of the way. We accomplish this through meaningful conversations and taking time to truly listen to the course instructor and their individual needs and desires.
Top Efficiency Recommendations
After the needs assessment meeting, the Student Working Group (SWG) collaborates on a set of recommendations for the instructor and their classroom based on the learning objectives for the course. The initial recommendations come from a list of our top general recommendations and serve as tools to reach the learning objective goals. Depending on the instructor’s needs, suggestions might include:
– Including a contact block on the Moodle page
– Setting up the Moodle Gradebook
– Uploading a Moodle & Teams Profile Picture
– Putting Office Hours in a contact block with an embedded link to a scheduled call
– Using PDF Submission Boxes for easy grading
– Formatting collapsible Moodle Topics/Title/Dates for each week
– Implementing a “Student Welcome Questionnaire”
– Including a Wellness Statement
– Uploading a Mid-Term Pulse-Check
Many of these can be easily implemented and formatted by the working group of OLTCs immediately after the first meeting, or the OLTCs can demonstrate to the instructor how to implement these changes themselves.
After the general recommendations, the OLTCs will also suggest up to three more personalized recommendations like:
– Scaffolding Lessons
– Using Flipgrid (follow this link to learn more: https://www.bishopsoltc.com/technology-glossary)
– Including specific High Impact Practices
– Redistribution of assignment weights on the syllabus
– Using Micro-Lectures (in videos or podcasts or PPT)
How these may look in an OLTC-supported class:
“One instructor noticed that students were losing concentration during lengthy lectures on foundational principles for the course so the OLTCs recommended testing the use of recorded micro-lectures because—depending on the course—they can be a great way to deliver dense content or augment in-person lectures. Micro-lectures can also be less intimidating and more technologically practical for a student to open three fifteen-minute lectures than one hour-long video. We suggest micro-lectures to instructors who have a lot of material to cover in lecture-format or for instructors who have a discussion element to their class. With micro-lectures, students can learn the material on their own time and then arrive to the discussion ready to participate.
Flipgrid offers an asynchronous way to have video discussions, or it can be used non-traditionally as a way for students to participate and be assessed in classes. For example, any form of oral presentation can be recorded by the student on Flipgrid and then watched asynchronously by the class in order to prepare for a synchronous discussion on the topic, similar to the use of micro-lectures. Alternatively, Flipgrid posts by students can be made private between the instructor and the student, thus creating endless ways to use the platform. One of the most popular ways Flipgrid has been used at Bishop’s this past year is within the music department. Instructors chose to have their students submit their instrumental pieces through Flipgrid to circumvent downloading such an ample amount of content to their computers.
During this second meeting, we will work with the instructor to find what they are interested in adopting or adapting for their classroom. It is a collaborative process with discussion surrounding the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of each suggestion. We ask the instructor if they want the OLTCs to be the ones to update the Moodle page or Teams channel, or if they themselves would like to learn how and implement the suggestions themselves. As OLTCs, we cannot create course content; we can only curate content that the instructor provides to us. This could mean, for example, that an instructor can provide us quiz questions and answers, and we can go onto Moodle and create the activity on their page.
Once the SWG has finished discussing their recommendations with the instructor, and the instructor has chosen which recommendations they want for their course, the SWG is ready to begin the process of implementing the content and platforms onto the course Moodle page and (if desired) Teams channel. With the extensive notes taken during all the meetings with the instructor, the SWG will compile a to-do list. This list will often be categorized by tasks that can be completed immediately, like the general recommendations, tasks that take more time and focus to implement, and long-term tasks that require a long-term partnership with the instructor.
Follow-Up & Continuous Collaboration
Once the course Moodle page is designed, instructors can still call on the OLTCs during the semester. Some OLTCs this past semester worked weekly to upload quiz questions, post recorded lectures, and import content to Moodle pages. Other OLTCs worked on-call as instructors reached out with specific questions through the term.
The OLTC mandate is to Design for Delight so one instructor’s involvement with the program may be entirely different from another’s. We are here to collaborate with all levels of engagement, from adding Moodle activities to immersive changes! If you are interested in working with us, fill out the form on our website: https://www.bishopsoltc.com/