Frequent communication and preparation have been critical to the success of migrating to online learning for Kentucky State University.
Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Beverly Schneller said the process of migrating to online learning has gone well, even though everything moved quickly when the decision was made to move to a modified instruction model.
“The successes have been solid – Dr. (Michael D.) Dailey used his experience in eLearning to quickly decide on suitable topics for faculty training sessions,” Schneller said. “He had to rapidly communicate when and how the sessions would be offered and together, we recruited faculty already trained in online learning to offer the sessions with him. But make no mistake, he has gone above and beyond in time, expertise and learning design as we strive to give students a high quality learning experience.”
Schneller said kudos is due to the Faculty Senate, who stepped in and quickly created and approved the Continuity of Instruction Policy that provides guidance at the institutional level on remote learning.
Dr. Michael D. Dailey, director of distance learning and instructional design, said faculty are to be commended for their effort to quickly migrate courses for fully online student engagement.
“We will continue to support them throughout this period and beyond,” Dailey said.
Dailey said the process used to migrate courses rested solely on the preparedness of the University.
“When the call came to migrate to fully online, the Kentucky State infrastructure was in place making it easy to focus on professional learning,” Dailey said. “For approximately 10 years, the University has provided an accompanying Blackboard Course Room for all courses taught at Kentucky State. Kentucky State encouraged the use of the Blackboard learning management system for grades and web-based accessible content. The Information Technology team led by Wendy Dixie has been invaluable ensuring web-based applications and services were available for faculty and students.”
Schneller said Kentucky State has traditionally offered a discrete and focused online curriculum, mainly in the graduate programs.
“We had to consider how to get the remaining courses into Blackboard with richer content,” Schneller said. “A saving grace is that all the courses have a shell or a template that faculty members can build from and enhance.”
Training had to take place quickly for faculty to ensure a smooth migration.
“Time is a critical friend or an aggressive enemy,” Dailey said. “We decided to use a sense of urgency to motivate and promote the excitement to foster the training needed. We approached faculty members who have been Quality Matters trained to ask them to lead sessions on a variety of topics. Without hesitation, each of them volunteered. The sessions were well attended and seemed to create a buzz increasing participation from approximately 40 participants to 96 by the Friday, March 19.”
Dailey said faculty shared ideas, resources, protocols, and practices to build the community of learners.
“We now have small department virtual meetings to help plan for our students,” Dailey said. “The math team met virtually on Saturday to make sure they are offering consistent content to our students.”
Communication has been critical to ensure success, Schneller said.
“Faculty have received thorough and regular communication from Dr. Dailey and me about the trainings,” Schneller said. “Because of his experience, the topics for the training sessions also impacted morale. If you are asked to do something new and quickly, having a solid plan helps to limit concerns among participants. Dr. Helen Smith, the chair of the Faculty Senate, has been with us since the start, and her support, as well as the messages President Brown has shared with the community, are key in creating the calm, focused environment we need to face this challenge.”
Schneller said they’ve received great support from the Kentucky State family during this process.
“The good surprises were how quickly everyone pitched in to support our students,” Dailey said. “There were no ‘bad’ surprises. Regardless of where you started on your journey to teach online, our goal was to make sure you were supported.”