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Innovative Faculty + Innovative Support = 21st Century Student Success

street sign on stoplights at an intersection reading "Innovation"

Faculty member and studentAccording to the data, in the Fall of 2013, one in every four students in the US were taking at least one course online. So-called Millennials are increasingly clamoring for flipped and hybrid classroom environments, which have been proven to be effective if done properly. But how, then, does the University of Kentucky rise to meet the challenges and expectations of the current students, but doing so while maintaining quality and sustainability? The eLearning Innovation Initiative (eLII) is a collaboration between UKAT and CELT to help faculty members design and implement online and hybrid courses and programs, with the support necessary to meet both the needs to students and the pedagogical goals of the faculty.

This year, the second cohort of award winners in both the hybrid course and online degree program are working hard in collaboration with CELT and eLearning. With the creation of the Lightboard, we have been able to provide Statistics with an important tool for the creation of their online Master’s in Applied Statistics, as well as create an important resource for the future of online and hybrid learning at UK.

Another online degree program we have been working closely with has been with the College of Design’s online Historic Preservations program. We have worked very closely with with the faculty to help them reimagine the current face-to-face version of the program for an online environment. This has allowed us to explore such issues as learning outcomes, as well as core goals and competencies. There are always challenges in moving into an online environment, and an exact replication of the face-to-face experience is impossible, however, working with CELT and eLearning has helped the faculty begin to create an exceptional learning experience for students.

In hybrid course redesign, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that the face-to-face contact hours remain over the 50%+1 threshold according to accreditation requirement - anything less moves into an online course. But the hybrid courses invite us to rethink how we use the contact time available to us, be it through more efficient uses of space, or more concentrated and productive time. The variety of the courses in this redesign program is impressive: theater, engineering, nursing, math, design, medicine.

One important element in this process is to not only focus on the larger arch of the program or course, but also how individual lessons or units are planned out, particularly in relation to the videos produced. Cara Worrick, the multimedia consultant at CELT, reminds faculty that they should follow best practices for recording presentations or lecture for online.

Another important element is the accessibility of the videos and other documents produced for the hybrid and online elements of the course. Deb Castiglione, Universal Design and Instructional Technology Specialist at CELT, points out that a number of institutions have recently faced legal action over the accessibility of their online course materials. She recommends faculty follow the principles of Universal Design in planning and designing their course materials.

Cover Image: Christian Heilmann, "Innovation Drive." CC-BY-2.0.