Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What is Online Certification Training (OCT) at Chicago State University (CSU)?

This post is the latest in our series dedicated to sharing SLATE member expertise on the same topic as our monthly meetings. Look for information below to get involved and write a post for us!

michael sukowski This month our guest author is Michael Sukowski, Director of the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence at Chicago State University. This post is written to accompany our November 18, 2015 meeting at St. Xavier University about Designing an Online Teaching Certification Course.

Online Certification Training (OCT) is Chicago State University's training program that prepares faculty to teach online. It is eight-weeks long, and is offered regularly throughout the year. OCT helps instructors understand what online learning is, how to prepare their course content for an online environment, and what the best practices are for online course development and teaching. It also explores such areas as instructional design, ADA web accessibility guidelines, and internet copyright and fair use. OCT is meant to provide an introductory overview of these topics, and to prepare faculty to meet the requirements of the Illinois Online Network Quality Online Course Initiative (ION QOCI) rubric that is used by CSU's Distance Education Committee to review online courses.
screenshot of oct in moodle
OCT is delivered entirely online, so that faculty can be fully immersed in the experience of being an online student. In fact, faculty must complete the same readiness assessment that new online students take, to determine if they would be successful as an online student. On a recent evaluation of one cohort, faculty reported that being an online student was much more work than they expected, but they also found there to be far more engagement with students online than in their face-to-face classrooms.

During OCT, faculty begin with readings and videos, and then post their reactions to a discussion board. They also learn to use Jing to record short screencasts, and have to submit three videos: a Welcome, how to submit an assignment in Moodle, and how to post to a discussion board in Moodle.

The primary assignment faculty work on throughout OCT is a design document. The design document walks them through planning their first two modules. As a final project, faculty actually create their first two modules. Faculty are graded on their work, and upon successful completion of the assignments, they receive a certificate of completion and a digital badge.

OCT was developed to provide a standardized approach to preparing faculty to teach in an online environment as recommended in Appendix G of the CSU Contract.
Appendix G, V. Assignment, d.: When a faculty member teaches a distance education/Internet course that involves learning new technologies, she/he should seek and be provided with the opportunity to be trained in those technologies. No faculty member shall teach a distance education/Internet course using new technologies without adequate preparation and prior opportunity to prepare materials required using the new technologies. 
CSU faculty should be prepared to meet the needs of its students; online learning is most effective when delivered by teachers experienced in their subject matter and fluent in necessary technologies. The best way to maintain the connection between online education and the values of traditional education is by ensuring that online learning is facilitated by teachers fully qualified and interested in teaching in the online environment.

In accordance with Appendix G of the CSU Contract (2010-2015), all faculty members who wish to teach online must first complete OCT. Working with the Associate Provost for Contract Administration and faculty union, the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence (CTRE) takes the stance that if a faculty member has successfully completed online teaching training at another institution where the course outcomes are similar to that of OCT, and the faculty member can provide proof of completion and/or it can be verified by the CTRE, this meets the clause in Appendix G that a faculty member has been provided adequate preparation and prior opportunity to prepare materials required using the new technologies. (Faculty who have completed a non-CSU training course can submit documentation that will be verified from the issuing institution to ensure that similar objectives as those for OCT have been met.) Permission to teach online must also be obtained from one's respective dean and department chair.

Michael Sukowski is the Director of the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence (CTRE) at Chicago State University and guides the present and future direction of the CTRE, is also directly involved in grants, faculty development, online learning, and special projects. Mr. Sukowski holds a Master of Education degree in Instructional Design and Technology and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration with a Specialization in Adult Learners. His focus is faculty development and instructional design. Recent publications and presentations include: "The Changing Learner" (The Strategic Management of Higher Education: Serving Students as Customers for Institutional Growth); "Come and Get Fed: A CAFE Experience of Professional Development for Faculty at Concordia University Chicago", and "Reaching the Tipping Point: The Interconnectedness of a School Leadership Program." 

Mr. Sukowski is proud to be appointed as a member of the SLATE Community Fellows program. This program expounds on the exceptional professional achievement and leadership of the individual and their contribution to education and technology professionals.

Thank you to Michael for sharing his perspective!

Are you interested in or have experience with one of the upcoming topics for the monthly SLATE meetings? Want to write a guest post on our blog to share what you have learned about it? Email Stephanie Richter with your proposal to be considered for a guest post!