In issue 3, I want to keep drawing your attention to the 4C Quality Faculty Model that we’ve been introducing to you through the newsletter. This model will play an increasingly important role in all aspects of our faculty development. We just recently completed the first Faculty Online Learning Training cohort that had the 4CQ Model at it’s heart. Becky Reaves and Dawnel Volzke, both a part of our adjunct faculty team, worked long hours to help revise FOLT and develop this next generation of training tools. My appreciation to them!
With that cohort, we also launched an important tool that accompanies the 4CQ model: the Personal Teaching Profile, or PTP, for short. The PTP helps you personalize and individualize the 4CQ model for your own context. This individualized version of the 4CQ model in the PTP will then become a key part of your ongoing development and, at some point, a part of our regular assessment of adjunct faculty performance. You can read more about how to use the PTP tool and download the PTP template on the Connect:ED website here. We will give more guidance and communication about the PTP in the future as we get closer to implementing it for all faculty. In a couple of months, however, we will be looking for a few volunteers to help us test-pilot the PTP tool with existing faculty, so this would be a good chance for some of you to help us shape this tool and make it really valuable for us all.
Competency in Subject Expertise
Finally, I want to briefly touch on the first characteristic of a Quality Faculty member: Competency in Subject Expertise.
This characteristic emphasizes your knowledge and expertise as an instructor, as well as learning new things, gaining greater understanding and knowledge, or developing your skills. As Quality Faculty, you do more than just facilitate discussion and grade assignments. You add knowledge, value, and content to the learning experience. You are also a great learner with a passion for learning and the simple joys of discovery. As such, you also stay abreast of the changing trends and ideas in your subject area.
Do you regularly read magazines, blogs, or journals related to your field? When was the last time you read up on a new idea, a new tool or method, or a new concept? Do you know where the good websites are for learning about your topic? The 4C Model encourages and allows room for you as the faculty member to meaningfully contribute you own understanding, knowledge, and expertise to the students’ learning.
Different programs use different approaches for developing curriculum. In a more traditional teaching environment, the faculty member has responsibility for 100% of the classroom: the content, the lessons, resources, the presentation, and the grading. For our evening program instructors, this is still largely the case, although we typically have a more structured guide for the courses. In our OKWU online courses, like in many online programs, we have generally followed a facilitator model in which the bulk of the curriculum has already been developed. The faculty member comes to the classroom with the lessons, resources, objectives, and assignments already laid out. In most cases, these decisions are made independent of the adjunct instructor. In many such models, the instructor’s primary role is to facilitate dialogue and grade submitted work.
But this is the first place the 4CQ model challenges us and helps us out. We recognize that you have something worthwhile to offer in the area in which you’ve been hired to teach. Your expertise was an important factor in assigning you to this course. We want to make use of the knowledge, experiences, and formal education that adjuncts bring to the table. So we are working on ways to allow an instructor to bring their own knowledge and learning more directly into the content and design of the course. In the future, you can expect to see courses that have empty blocks where you as the instructor will need to provide specific content, determine which discussion questions will be used, or perhaps create or modify assignments to fit your strengths.
Our course design structures serve to ensure a level of consistency, rigor, and adherence to institutional or program outcomes, but we want our faculty to have the freedom to invest their own expertise and knowledge in very rich and meaningful ways into the student’s learning experience.
So I encourage you, especially for those of you who teach online, if you see places in a course where you could add something of value, take the initiative and do it! Share your expertise, your wisdom, share your learning with the students. There is little more infectious than an instructor who is eager to learn, share that learning, and stimulate others to do the same.