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Working Smarter, Not Harder How the University of Calgary Continuing Education Expanded e-Learning Program Capacity Without Increasing Staff. Chris Appleton e-Learning Specialist Robert Wensveen Associate Director. Overview. History & Background of e-Learning A Crisis Evolves

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chris appleton e learning specialist robert wensveen associate director

Working Smarter, Not HarderHow the University of Calgary Continuing Education Expanded e-Learning Program Capacity Without Increasing Staff

Chris Appleton

e-Learning Specialist

Robert Wensveen

Associate Director

overview
Overview
  • History & Background of e-Learning
  • A Crisis Evolves
  • The New Model of Independence
  • Challenges
  • Successes
  • Lessons Learned
  • Looking Ahead
history background
History & Background
  • 2006 Support Model: "mini-helpdesk"
  • Not many courses online
  • Dependent on small staff (4-6 people)
  • Everything routed to this group
  • Central UCIT Support Centre unable and unwilling to support our students/instructors
    • Limited capacity and access (mainframe) for support
background of conted
Background of ContEd
  • Instructors are contracted (adjunct)
  • No credit courses offered
  • Do not pay for course development
    • No ownership of online courses
  • We are early adopters of fully online course offerings
    • Left outside the rest of the university
a crisis evolves
A Crisis Evolves
  • Continuing Education was crippled
  • No growth in e-Learning possible
  • Student, instructor and staff dissatisfaction
    • "Putting out fires"
    • Resetting passwords
    • Re-active not pro-active
    • No learning by anyone
    • Frustration for everyone
a crisis evolves1
A Crisis Evolves
  • No training/development possible
  • Part-time evening help - no demand
  • Slow reaction to critical calls
    • Frontline staff had to pass off everything to a small group (mini-helpdesk)
  • Escalations could take days to resolve
  • No chance to pursue new opportunities or initiatives
the new support model
The New Support Model
  • 2007: A "model of independence" proposed
  • All staff were expected to develop some level of e-learning expertise
  • All online instructors were expected to develop expertise in e-learning
  • Student technical support was directed to the central UCIT Support Centre
  • Frontline staff were trained to assist instructors and basic student access queries
the new support model1
The New Support Model
  • New support resources were developed
    • Instructor Guides
    • Staff Guides
    • Student Handbooks
    • Instructor Workshops
    • "Learning Online" for students
  • Teaching & Learning Centre involvement
  • New regular staff and instructor workshops
challenges
Challenges
  • Most staff were unable to learn enough to support instructors & students
  • Many instructors preferred the "hand holding" one-on-one support model
  • Most instructors started prepping mere days before their courses begin
  • Managers continued to hire inexperienced e-learning instructors
  • Online course quality continued "as-is"
successes
Successes
  • Over time, staff expertise improved
    • Began to recognize and accept that they have a critical role in supporting e-learning
  • New technologies automated more of the business processes
  • Management of e-learning programs improved
    • Instructor recruitment is improving
    • Management of instructors improved
  • Support from Central UofC improved
    • We developed and fostered a positive working relationship with central IT and TLC groups
successes1
Successes
  • New instructor support portal
      • http://thepitstop.ucalgary.ca
  • New e-Learning Working Group
  • New "Teaching Online" course for instructors
  • New e-Learning Quality Review Process
    • Instructor guidelines, expectations, rubrics
  • Staff check-lists for e-learning courses
  • Strengthened communication channels
  • Well-respected as e-learning experts across the rest of campus community
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Accept that change takes time
  • Inclusion and empowerment
  • Share the workload
  • Setting clear expectations early on
  • Technology is always evolving
  • Communication is key
  • Strong commitment by staff needed to manage growing e-learning demands
lessons learned1
Lessons Learned
  • Be seen as a trail-blazer
    • Don't be afraid to promote yourself as a leader
  • Leverage off existing institutional support and platforms wherever possible
  • Think ahead, anticipate problems before they arise
  • Learn to say and accept "no"
  • Put quality first
looking ahead
Looking Ahead
  • E-Learning quality is at an all-time high
  • Staff at all levels are now quite comfortable with supporting e-learning programs
  • Instructor and online course quality continues to get better and better
  • Student satisfaction continues to climb
  • E-learning capacity has exponentially increased