The Effect of Disruptive Innovation in My Organization – Part-Time Faculty

Implementing a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty at the Odessa College: A Plan for Innovation in Faculty Development

Julie M. Lyon

Lamar University

Abstract/Introduction

As the face of higher education changes to meet the demands of learners, the workforce of educators is shifting to one that is largely comprised of part-time faculty members. According To Achieving the Dream, more than half of courses in community colleges are taught by adjunct faculty. (Achieving the Dream, 2015). For Odessa College, during the Spring 2018 semestre, the instructional force was comprised of 285 instructors; 179 of those instructors were part-time. Adjunct faculty play an increasingly important role in student education. These part-time faculty members bring a wealth of experience to the classrooms, but may not have any training or experience in education. Many lack pedagogical/andragogical background that can help to ensure the success of their learners. Many also lack a solid understanding of the technologies that are available to them. And they often lack opportunities for acculturation into the community college environment.

Odessa College has acquired numerous awards, accolades, and honours from a variety of state, national, and private agencies, including the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Achieving the Dream, and the Aspen Committee. To ensure the success of learners, and to maintain the status as a leader among the nation’s community colleges, Odessa College needs to make an investment in our educators, including those who work part-time and those who work remotely from a distance. These valuable contributors toward the goals of our learners and the institution must be given an opportunity to participate in and to contribute to the processes of their departments, and must be provided with opportunities for support and for growth.

 

Local/Regional Factors

In Odessa, Texas, the economy is governed by the petroleum industry. As such we see tremendous shifts in the economy which affect housing and other cost of living factors. During the times known as “Oil Boom,” when the economy is flourishing, the population nearly doubles, and housing costs increase tremendously. As an example, to stay in a hotel in this community costs in excess of $500 per night, for a modest hotel such as La Quinta. Motel 6 charges more than $300 per night during weekdays.

Though unemployment dips to nearly 0, salaries to educators do not follow the economic surge. As an educational entity, Odessa College struggles to attract qualified educators because housing is such a rare and costly commodity. This results in an increase in the numbers of remote part-time faculty we employ.

The Need: A Plan for Support and Development for Adjunct Faculty

Odessa College has high expectations of full-time faculty, requiring that they receive professional development in several categories (technology, career, personal development, etc.). However these expectation have never been implemented for our part-time or adjunct faculty. Our part-time faculty come to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience, but without professional development opportunities that are designed specifically for them, they will never become acculturated to Odessa College. They will have a more difficult time learning to use the Learning Management System (LMS), and the tools that are available in that LMS. And the students will begin to notice differences.

As Odessa College strives to prove its status as the best community college in the nation, we are in a precarious situation. Currently Odessa College employs almost twice the number of part-time faculty members as full-time. To ensure that our learners continue to progress toward desired outcomes, it is imperative that we hold our part-time faculty to the same standards that we hold our full-time faculty. Our learners deserve quality educational experiences whether their instructor is a full-time employee or a part-time employee.

By developing and implementing a proactive plan to meet the support and professional development needs of our part-time faculty, we will ensure that our part-time faculty are equipped to serve in their role as members of the Odessa College faculty, leading learners to success at one of the premiere community colleges in the nation.

Existing Development and Support

Training and Professional Development

At Odessa College, professional development and training activities for faculty are scheduled annually before each full semester starts (Fall and Spring). During this time (Welcome Week), faculty are apprised of any legislative updates and policy changes with regard to higher education and processes that will affect instruction at Odessa College. Professional Development Week is offered midway through each regular semester, and provides opportunities for technology and instructional training workshops. Training activities include new technologies to facilitate and enhance instruction, professional development to provide pedagogical and andragogical strategies for all teaching modalities.

Odessa College also has created an Online Teaching and Learning Certification program, comprised of six courses (Foundations of Online Learning, Principles of Instructional Design, Assessment in the Online Learning Environment, Developing Communities in Online Learning, Multimedia and Technology, and a Practicum). Currently full-time faculty that teach online are required to participate in this year long program, if half of the classes they teach or more are online. Faculty that teach less than half of their courseload online are encouraged to participate/ This will become a requirement for all full-time instructors that teach online in the near future.

Currently these training activities are offered through face-to-face sessions only, with the exception of the Online Teaching and Learning Certification program which is offered fully online..

 

Teaching and Learning

Odessa College has implemented a Department of Teaching and Learning to support faculty development. The Dean of Teaching and Learning offers mandatory and voluntary workshops throughout each regular semester for faculty over a variety of topics designed to improve instruction. The Associate Dean (AD) of Teaching and Learning provides additional support in training and development and also conducts observations and evaluations of instruction throughout the course of the academic year.

Training and development activities are offered through face-to-face sessions only.

 

Instructional Design / Educational Technology

Odessa College supports course development and instruction with a team of instructional technologists and educational designers (OC Global), who assist faculty in development of courses and content. Currently resources for faculty support are focused on full-time faculty, however part-time faculty are being hired at a much higher rate than in previous years. Many adjunct positions for online courses are being filled by part-time instructors who are not local, making the challenge of providing support more challenging. OC Global utilizes synchronous technologies (Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Skype, FaceTime) to reach out to these remote faculty in order to provide support.

 

Proposed Plan for Support of Part-Time Instructors

Odessa College has exceptional support systems in place for full-time instructors. These opportunities are made available to part-time faculty too, however many of our part-time instructors (even if they are local) have full-time jobs outside of their teaching roles. This diminishes their ability to participate in meetings and development activities. In an effort to ensure that Odessa College is providing quality educational opportunities for all students, regardless of the instructional modality or the employment status of the faculty member, Odessa College must create opportunities for development and training of part-time remote faculty, and for participation in departmental planning and organizational meetings and professional learning communities (PLCs).

Strategies for Improving Support to Part-Time Faculty

Online Orientation Support

Each instructor will be required to participate in orientation prior to teaching his/her first course at Odessa College. To ensure that all instructors have the opportunity to participate, an orientation course will be developed for delivery through Blackboard, and will contain all materials that are delivered to faculty in face-to-face orientation sessions.

Currently, faculty orientation is provided by the Dean of Teaching and Learning, AD Teaching and Learning, staff members of OC Global, and key faculty. This orientation is provided prior to the beginning of each full semester, in a face-to-face environment on the main campus of Odessa College. To ensure that those instructors who are unable to participate a live session such as this have ample opportunity to take part, the session is streamed live, and is recorded and made available to all. Through this proposal, an organizational shell will be created in the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS), the Faculty Support Studio. Within this organizational community, the training and support team (Teaching and Learning, OC Global) will develop an online orientation module which will supplement the live and live-streamed orientation session provided, and will serve as a resource for the part-time instructors. This module will include information, tools, strategies, and online networking opportunities that will ensure that our part-time instructors have access to the tools and supports needed to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students.

Responsible Parties: Department of Teaching and Learning (Dean, Associate Dean); OC Global (Instructional Designers, Curriculum and Technology Support)

Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment, video editing software

Online Training and Professional Development Activities

Training and professional development activities offered during Welcome Week and Professional Development Week will be made available to all instructors, even those who are part-time and/or at a distance, through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. During the initial implementation stage, when the schedule of training and development activities is developed, links for accessing each session online will be provided to those who cannot attend physically. These sessions will also be recorded so that instructors who cannot participate in the live sessions will have access to the content presented. After the initial phase of this project, learning modules with dedicated video will be developed and made available in the Faculty Support Studio

Leveraging the learning management system (Blackboard), professional development activities will be made available online where possible. This will allow remote faculty to participate and attend development activities, with the added benefit of modeling the many facets and benefits of effective use of available technologies. This will also provide opportunity for the instructors to experience the instructional side of the learning management system, offering them an online student experience.

A professional development component of the Odessa College App will be developed, and will serve as a convenient place for faculty to suggest training and development topics, to volunteer to lead training and development, and to track professional development opportunities that they have completed. This app will also allow faculty to leave feedback on professional development sessions they have attended.

Required Training: All instructors (full-time and part-time) will be required to participate in certain training activities which will help them to develop or enhance their skills.

Because all Credit courses and many Continuing Education courses have elements that will exist in the College’s Learning Management System (Blackboard), all instructors regardless of full/part time status will be required to participate Blackboard 101 (BB101), which focuses on technical skills within the LMS, and Quality Course Components (QC2), which focuses on instructional quality especially in the online environment.

  1. Level One Module will be required of all instructors regardless of teaching modality (face-to-face, hybrid, online). This section will include:
    1. navigating the course
    2. adding/updating content including the Course Syllabus
    3. adding/updating announcements
    4. creating assessments (assignments, tests/quizzes, journals, wikis, discussion forums, etc.)
    5. working in the online Grade Center
    6. using basic tools (Qwickly Attendance, Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor, SafeAssign Plagiarism Checker, etc)
    7. creating videos using TechSmith Relay Recorder (Lecture Capture) and the TechSmith media library
  2. Level Two and Three Modules will be required of all instructors who are teaching hybrid and online courses. These modules will go into more depth on the tools used to increase collaboration and online engagement, more advanced tools and utilities, etc.

Responsible Parties: Workshops are provided by a variety of individuals – Teaching and Learning (Dean, Associate Dean), OC Global Team, Faculty Members, Guest Presenters
OC Global Team will ensure that Collaborate Ultra links are established for each session

Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment, and Video Editing Software

Faculty-Led Professional Development Activities

During recent faculty professional development opportunities, faculty-led sessions have proven to be very popular and effective. More opportunities for workshops and professional development activities that are led by faculty (full-time and part-time) will be scheduled. Part-time faculty who teach remotely for Odessa College will have opportunities to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise by leading workshops and professional development sessions using synchronous technologies such as Collaborate Ultra or Skype.

Responsible Parties: Faculty, Department of Teaching and Learning, OC Global

Resources Required: Internet Access, Access to Skype/Collaborate, Computer with projector (unless session is offered in such a way that participants can attend virtually from their offices), other materials/technology depending on the nature of the professional development activities

Learning Teams

Faculty and other relevant content-area specialist look at various types of data (formative and summative assessments, retention rates, and other informative instructional data) to help have meaningful discourse on what students are not learning, locate the instructional gaps and find practical ways to close the gaps. These Learning teams could convene meetings and professional learning communities (PLCs) throughout each semester and used to help inform sensible planning for the upcoming semester. Several items are addressed in learning teams such as what worked well, what things did not work well and why? Where is the evidence to support this? What evidence can we put forward that new skills and pedagogical practices acquired from previous professional development sessions have impacted the success of the students in the classroom?  Is additional support needed for the instructors to have more impact on the students’ learning outcomes?

Team meetings and PLCs will help to develop and plan instructional strategies, solve instructional and non-instructional issues, and to discuss new strategies to improve student performance. Team meetings can be conducted in person, with the use of Collaborate to ensure that remote adjunct faculty members are included.

Responsible Parties: Department Chairs, Departmental Faculty (with support from Department of Teaching and Learning; OC Global

Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment

Observation/Coaching/Mentoring Model

A system consisting of observation, coaching/mentoring will be established as part of the professional development component. All instructors will benefit from these mentoring/coaching relationships. The amount/type/frequency will depend on where the instructor is at in terms of competence and effectiveness.

Responsible Parties: Department Chairs, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Departmental Faculty, Instructional Design/Curriculum Specialist and Instructional Design/Technology Specialist

Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment


Reading/Research/Study Group

Groups of faculty will share and read articles on informed practice from scholarly journals, or anecdotal accounts from experts in their field, in a synchronous environment (in person and in conjunction with the use of synchronous technology such as Blackboard Collaborate Ultra). Preparations will be made online, in the Faculty Support Studio organization shell, using a blog and/or wiki created for productive discourse (synchronous or asynchronous).  This will then form part of a larger conversation to benefit student outcomes.

Study groups that focus on a shared topic or need cam be used horizontally or vertically.  Instructors will participate in PLCs to discuss a problem, brainstorm for solutions and share what works and how challenges are overcome. Instructors will convene in interdisciplinary groups to discuss pedagogical strategies such as:

  • how to conference with students during instruction;
  • how to conduct guided reading in a particular course;
  • the best methods to adopt when transitioning from one activity to the next in the classroom (from modeling a performance expectation or direct instruction to individual work to group work to closing activities);
  • how to create effective classroom cultures(classroom rules, remedying non-compliance, tardiness, attendance issues etc).

Using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous strategies, including Collaborate, blogs, wikis within a course/organization shell in Blackboard, faculty who are physically able to participate in face-to-face activities and those who are remote will have the ability to participate fully.

Responsible Parties: Department Chairs, Departmental Faculty (with support from Department of Teaching and Learning (Dean, Associate Dean); OC Global (Instructional Design/Curriculum Specialist)

Resources Required: Blackboard LMS, Collaborate/Collaborate Ultra, Internet Connection, WebCam and Audio Equipment

Instructional “Maker Spaces

An Instructional “Maker Space” exists in OC Global’s Collaboration Lab. Video equipment (WebCams, Microphones), lighting, green screens, and development applications such as Camtasia have been installed on the computers that are located in the Collaboration Lab. These are available for faculty use (including by part-time instructors) by appointment during regular business hours, but also outside of regular business hours. Computer applications that are available in OC Global’s Instructional Maker Space will be made available to online instructors through a virtual private network. Instructors will need to schedule times to access the Virtual Instructional Maker Space.

Responsible Parties: OC Global, Department of Teaching and Learning

Resources Required: Virtual Private Network/Remote Access software; schedule


Professional Development Organizations

To ensure our Professional Development is effective and impactful it may be a step in the right direction to ensure trainers/staff developers join some organization noted for “training trainers”.  Organizations such as “Learning Forward” (www.learningforward.org) is an example. “Learning Forward” has several options and vehicles to help trainers be fully equipped to conduct/deliver effective professional development to instructors such providing learning opportunities through Annual Conferences, webinars, An Academy, Institutes, and Online Courses.

Implementing Criteria-Based Pay Scale for Adjuncts

Most part-time instructors at Odessa College are paid $1,600 per 3 hour credit course, with some exceptions. This rate of pay has not changed for more than ten years. All faculty will be required to participate in orientation, and specified training activities in order to remain eligible to teach. Through this proposal, the base pay for part-time faculty will increase to $1,800 per 3 hour credit course, in an effort to remain competitive with other Texas colleges.

Part-Time Instructor, Level One
(Pay Rate: $1,800 per 3 credit/hour course). Faculty meets all requirements for employment and instruction, including all required qualifications in place (Statement Of Qualifications, or SOQ, on file), orientation completed successfully, required specified trainings completed successfully.

Part-Time Instructor, Level Two
(Pay Rate: Level One rate plus $100* per 3 hour course). Faculty meets Level One requirements, AND has successfully completed additional training activities and participated in PLCs and departmental/institutional meetings.

Part-Time Instructor, Level Three
(Pay Rate: Level Two rate plus $200* per 3 hour course). Faculty meets Level Two requirements, AND maintains student retention comparable to the campus average for the modality being used to deliver the instruction (Face-To-Face, Hybrid, Web).

*This amount is subject to change, and will be established by Odessa College Leadership

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