Plan for a Network of Development and Support of Part-Time Instructors
A Call to Action
Please check out my Call to Action here.
Overview of Existing Faculty Supports
Training and Professional Development
At Odessa College, professional development and training activities for faculty are scheduled annually before each full semester starts (Fall and Spring). During this time (Welcome Week), faculty are apprised of any legislative updates and policy changes with regard to higher education and processes that will affect instruction at Odessa College. Professional Development Week is offered midway through each regular semester, and provides opportunities for technology and instructional training workshops. Training activities include new technologies to facilitate and enhance instruction, professional development to provide pedagogical and andragogical strategies for all teaching modalities.
Teaching and Learning
Odessa College has implemented a Department of Teaching and Learning to support faculty development. The Dean of Teaching and Learning offers mandatory workshops throughout each regular semester for faculty over a variety of topics designed to improve instruction.
Instructional Technology / Educational Design
Odessa College supports course development and instruction with a team of instructional technologists and educational designers (OC Global), who assist faculty in development of courses and content.
Currently resources for faculty support are focused on full-time faculty, however part-time faculty are being hired at a much higher rate than in previous years. Many adjunct positions for online courses are being filled by part-time instructors who are not local, making the challenge of providing support more challenging.
Proposed Plan for Part-Time Faculty Support
Odessa College has exceptional support systems in place for full-time instructors. These opportunities are made available to part-time faculty too, however many of our part-time instructors (even if they are local) have full-time jobs outside of their teaching roles. This diminishes their ability to participate in training activities. In an effort to ensure that Odessa College is providing quality educational opportunities for all students, regardless of the instructional modality or the employment status of the faculty member, Odessa College must create opportunities for development and training of part-time remote faculty.
Strategies for Improving Support to Part-Time Faculty
Professional Learning Communities
Instructional Leadership at the Departmental level will be introduced to Growth Mindset concepts, through learning experiences designed around the tools available from the MindsetKit.org. Departmental leaders will be encouraged to implement a Professional Learning Community (PLC) model during which all faculty, including part-time faculty, will have a voice. Leadership will be encouraged to incorporate Growth Mindset learning experiences in PLCs, and will model Growth Mindset behaviours for their faculty.
Responsible Parties: Department of Teaching and Learning (Dean and staff); OC Global (Instructional Technology/Curriculum Specialist), Departmental Leadership
Resources Required: MindsetKit.org website and resources, Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment
Online Orientation Support
Each instructor will be required to participate in orientation prior to teaching his/her first course at Odessa College. To ensure that all instructors have the opportunity to participate, an orientation course will be developed for delivery through the Blackboard Learning Management System, and will contain all materials that are delivered to faculty in face-to-face orientation sessions.
Currently faculty orientation is provided by the staff of Teaching and Learning Division. This orientation is provided prior to the beginning of each full semester, in a face-to-face environment on the main campus of Odessa College. During this orientation, the Teaching and Learning Division staff will also incorporate and model Growth Mindset learning experiences, designed around the tools and resources available in the MindsetKit.org website. To ensure that those instructors who are unable to participate in a live session such as this have ample opportunity to take part, the session is streamed live, and is recorded and made available to all. Through this proposal, an organizational shell will be created in the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) for part-time instructors. Within this organizational community, the training and support team (Teaching and Learning, OC Global) will develop an online orientation module which will supplement the life orientation session provided, and will serve as a resource for the part-time instructors. This module will include information, tools, strategies, and online networking opportunities that will ensure that our part-time instructors have access to the tools and supports needed to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students. Rubric development around the concepts of the Growth Mindset will be encouraged, and modeled throughout the course shell, to help the part-time instructors learn about the Growth Mindset concept of “yet”. This will include and build on existing tools, such as the Adjunct Corner.
Responsible Parties: Department of Teaching and Learning (Dean, Instructional Coordinator); OC Global (Instructional Technology/Curriculum Specialist)
Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment
Online Training and Professional Development Activities
Training and professional development activities offered during Welcome Week and Professional Development Week will be made available to all instructors, even those who are part-time and/or at a distance, through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. When the schedule of activities is developed, links for accessing each session online will be provided to those who cannot attend physically. These sessions will also be recorded so that instructors who cannot participate in the live sessions will have access to the content presented. In addition to the short-term learning experiences developed and delivered during the weeks identified as professional development days or “Welcome Week”, additional learning experiences will be developed and delivered over longer periods of time, providing opportunity for these part-time faculty to experience meaningful, sustained learning experiences where they have opportunity to practice and apply the concepts they are learning in the training.
Required Training: All instructors (full-time and part-time) will be required to participate in certain training activities which will help them to develop or enhance their skills. Part-time faculty will initially be required to participate in a 15-hour development course. For their time, they will be paid the equivalent of teaching one credit hour ($600).
Because all Credit courses and many Continuing Education courses have elements that will exist in the College’s Learning Management System (Blackboard), all instructors regardless of full/part time status will be required to participate Blackboard 101 (BB101) and Quality Course Components (QC2).
NOTE: Blackboard 101 is currently undergoing revision to include three modules, with one assessment for each module:
- Level One Module will be required of all instructors regardless of teaching modality (face-to-face, hybrid, online). This section will include:
- navigating the course
- adding/updating content including the Course Syllabus
- adding/updating announcements
- creating assessments (assignments, tests/quizzes, journals, wikis, discussion forums, etc.)
- working in the online Grade Center
- using basic tools (Qwickly, Respondus, SafeAssign, etc)
- creating videos using TechSmith Relay Recorder (Lecture Captuer) and the TechSmith media library
- Level Two and Three Modules will be required of all instructors who are teaching hybrid and online courses. These modules will go into more depth on the tools used to increase collaboration and online engagement, more advanced tools and utilities, etc.
Responsible Parties: Workshops are provided by a variety of individuals – Teaching and Learning (Dean, Teaching and Learning staff), OC Global Team, Faculty Members, Guest Presenters
OC Global Team will ensure that Collaborate Ultra links are established for each session.
Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment, resources and tools from MindsetKit.org
Instructional “Maker Space”
An Instructional “Maker Space” exists in OC Global’s Collaboration Lab. Video equipment (WebCams, Microphones), lighting, green screens, and development applications such as Camtasia have been installed on the computers that are located in the Collaboration Lab. These are available for faculty use (including by part-time instructors) by appointment during regular business hours, but also outside of regular business hours. Computer applications that are available in OC Global’s Instructional Maker Space will be made available to online instructors through a virtual private network. Instructors will need to schedule times to access the Virtual Instructional Maker Space.
Responsible Parties: OC Global, Department of Teaching and Learning
Resources Required: Virtual Private Network/Remote Access software; schedule
Local and Global Considerations
Much research has gone into the plan and the proposed implementation plan. To read the a review of literature that supports this plan, read the literature review found here.
Gaps To Be Addressed
Mentoring For Part-Time Faculty
This portion of the plan will be the most challenging to implement, primarily because the number of part-time faculty employed is more than double the number of full-time faculty. However, we will implement a structure for full-time faculty that will allow them to enhance leadership skills and grow professionally. Part of this will include mentoring part-time faculty.
One gap that clearly needs to be addressed for full-time and part-time faculty is Learning Management System (LMS) support. Currently the Instructional Design team fields questions and support for the LMS. The Instructional Designers are spending more than 75% of their time providing LMS support to faculty. A Digital Learning Support Specialist should be hired to support and assistance to faculty with regard to the LMS and other digital learning platforms, allowing the Instructional Designers to focus on working with content matter experts in design of courses and learning experiences.
Part-Time Faculty Voice
Initially proposing annual surveys of part-time faculty to ensure that they have a voice in the creation and maintenance of a development plan for part-time faculty, I think that a bettter solution will be to have an advisory group of part-time faculty. This organisation will represent their part-time peers; they will conduct a professional learning needs assessment each year, and will help in the development of professional learning experiences for part-time faculty.
Questions for Future Studies
I will need to address the following questions with institutional leadership, to learn what options exist for these areas.
Can additional training activities lead to a higher pay scale for part-time instructors? For example, perhaps we could consider part-time instructors at Levels, for example:
- Part-Time Instructor, Level One (Pay Rate: $____ per course/credit/hour) meets all requirements for employment and instruction, including all required qualifications in place (Statement Of Qualifications, or SOQ, on file), orientation completed successfully, required specified trainings completed successfully.
- Part-Time Instructor, Level Two (Pay Rate: Level One rate plus $_____ ) meets Level One requirements, AND has successfully completed XX additional training activities
- Part-Time Instructor, Level Three (Pay Rate: Level Two rate plus $_____ ) meets Level Two requirements, AND maintains student retention rates of ___% and student success rates of ___%
Part-Time Teaching Academy
Can we consider developing a Part-Time Teaching Academy? This could be delivered through the LMS to ensure that our remote instructors have opportunity to access, and could result in a level of certification?
All In “Lite”
Our part-time instructors are a valuable commodity, bringing a wealth of knowledge and skills to our students. In addition to ensuring that they have access to training opportunities that will augment their skills, and networking opportunities so that they do not feel alone and isolated, and can provide support to and receive support from peers, the part-time instructors need to feel that their contributions are appreciated. To help ensure that our part-time instructors feel appreciated and valued, can we consider implementing something similar to All In that rewards our part-time instructors for doing the right things?
Continuing Education/Short-Term Training Considerations
What level of expectation should we have for our part-time instructors who teach/facilitate shorter term courses, such as the one-day updates, some enrichment programming, etc.? How can we best support these instructors?