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Recognizing Faculty Commitment and Workload using ePortfolios and eBadging

The EvoLLLution | Recognizing Faculty Commitment and Workload using ePortfolios and eBadging
By developing a robust array of badges as professional development microcredentials, it’s possible to support buy-in for the adoption of new tools and pedagogies across the institution.

“I need to move my class online, and I need to know how.”

This is a statement heard on a regular basis here at University of Alaska Anchorage’s (UAA)  Academic Innovations & eLearning (AI&e) department.

AI&e has a staff of professional instructional designers, who are skilled and talented, but we are a group of five working with a constant stream of the approximately 1000 faculty that teach at UAA each semester. We are simply unable to fulfill the full role of design and development, so our focus is to equip faculty with the skills and tools necessary to take course content, academic technologies and sound pedagogy and blend them together to create a quality online course.

With this focus at AI&e, we are working in unison to create a viable program that recognizes the levels of commitment and work that faculty engage in when participating in workshops, training opportunities, one-on-one consultations, and course design and redesign projects.

Course design is a time consuming project in and of itself. When new academic technologies are added along with online course requirements, each faculty member can spend 10+ hours per week for several weeks learning new technologies, rewriting assignments and syllabi to fit the new environment, testing new ideas, recording video lectures and creating communication plans all integral to the design, development and deployment of an online course. AI&e has been intent on figuring out a way to share this faculty journey and evidence of work in a way that is more substantial than a “certificate of attendance.” Electronic badges are the exact way to do this.

Our professional development badging journey began with the UAA Technology Fellows program as a pilot. This program led to the development of badges issued to honor the prestigious Fellowship award and to recognize skill building and application throughout the online course design training intensive session that fellows attend. These sessions are led by Sarah Frick, then Assistant Director of AI&e, who spoke about this program in a 2015 interview with The EvoLLLution. We used badging throughout the five-day training program and created a badge schema that recognizes additional applied skills and activities. The program was well received, but ran into some technical difficulty. After researching and testing multiple platforms the project was stuck. The technology we had access too did not allow us a process or place the electronic badges where faculty could post their earned credentials easily and effectively.

In 2015, AI&e led the process to choose an electronic portfolio platform system, a project that had over five years of research, pilot testing and faculty inquiry around student learning and assessment, and the tool that was chosen was Digication.

During the campus-wide implementation phase of the tool, AI&e realized that Digication could be the solution for the faculty development badging program. Digication has a module that easily allows users to post electronic badges awarded from Credly. Our technology issue was solved.

The potential in using this tool to award credit to faculty who complete the online course design and development training became a central theme in the redesign of our faculty development program and the “EduPass: Journey to Online Teaching and Learning” project was resurrected from the heap of “tried and didn’t work technologies” pile.

In the resurrection phase we came up with three facts:

1. We knew we want to “badge” faculty for their learning and accomplishment in designing online courses.

2. We know we have a team of innovative, expert course designers, and

3. We need a way to convince our faculty and the community that what we have to offer is of value.

Facts one and two are now covered so to solve fact number three we created the first certification curriculum by curating our years of expert workshop agendas, resource materials and presentations, organized it all around powerful learning objectives and created a course architecture based on sound curriculum the way we teach our faculty to do it. The result is our first certification course “Online Course Design & Development.”

Another development in this story is that as eWolf ePortfolio has been implemented at the student level we have also had interest in implementation of the tool for faculty tenure and promotion, term faculty review and staff performance review. Now we are really meeting in the middle, exactly where we needed to be to create the greatest impact for faculty buy-in.

Though still in its initial phase, the potential for the faculty professional development programs available through AI&e and UAA’s Center for Faculty Excellence (CAFE) programs is huge.

A faculty member may now attend our workshops, conference sessions, and/or asynchronous study and submit their final course design to AI&e to earn the certification and receive recognition for the amount of time and effort extended. The submitted work is reviewed by committee against a stringent rubric, and upon passing, the faculty member is awarded an electronic badge through Credly. This badge is linked to the course content guide, certification rubric and course resource site, and may include a testimonial in regard to the amount of work that was completed and what courses the faculty used their new skills to design and deploy. This badge can then be embedded quickly and easily into a faculty P&T eportfolio for committee review and to display with curriculum vitae.

There are currently 15 faculty members participating in the pilot phase, and they’re moving forward to be in position to display the certification badge during their upcoming review or P&T process. We are excited to use this model to add “Facilitate an Online Course,” “Master Course, Design & Facilitation” certifications by December 2016.

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