Professional Development Class

by Hannah Rae Vaden

The Provost's Office offered a professional development opportunity for faculty in online teaching and learning this summer. Well over 200 faculty from across the university participated, including several from CSD. I sat down with one faculty member, Dr. Feenaughty, to find out more about the tricks and tips she learned to make her online classrooms work for everyone.

Professional Development

Dr. Lynda Feenaughty, Assistant Professor, was an active participant and has made strides towards implementing her new skills in the courses she has taught this summer and will be teaching in the fall. The seminar was offered at two levels: Foundation and Mastery. According to Dr. Feenaughty, the courses were very structured and user friendly. The goal was to teach best practices for how to transition a course from an on-ground format to online, and how to repurpose materials and assignments from one format to the other—something all faculty were trying to do.

The professional development seminar included three virtual meetings over a three-week period. The faculty learned techniques to help them adapt to teaching in an online environment. The seminar emphasized the benefits of online learning including flexibility with assignment due dates and the ability to integrate materials from the internet into a course. Faculty were encouraged to work on focusing learning objectives on core competencies and creating optional readings and assignments for peripheral objectives. Dr. Feenaughty learned a lot about the different functions available in eCourseware, the UofM online learning platform through BrightSpace/D2L. She transitioned her student communications from email to eCourseware to keep all assignments and instructions in one place instead of scattered throughout their emails. Some students wanted efficient closed captioning for lectures, and Dr. Feenaughty learned that Google Slides captions your lectures as you speak. The course also taught her how to "Poll" in Zoom and other techniques to help engage students during lectures.

In August, the CSD faculty attendees of the online teaching seminars provided the rest of the CSD faculty a tutorial on what they had learned. Overall, the CSD faculty felt the time was well-spent. Dr. Feenaughty hopes to carry over these new skills and activities to make classroom time more productive and effective. As noted by Dean Linda Jarmulowicz, "Online courses may not be anyone's first choice, but the least we can do is try to make it as engaging as possible – for both faculty and students."