‘Online Readiness Preppers’: Preparing Faculty and Their Adult Students for Fully Online Programs

Michelle Simms, Director of Instructional Technology
Gwynedd Mercy College

Gwynedd Mercy College’s Stats

  • Founded in 1948
  • Five divisions/schools
  • Three satellite campuses
  • 2900 students
  • 196 Faculty (84 full-time)
  • Blackboard Managed Hosted since 2011

Questions & Challenges

  • How will you get ready and how will you assess the readiness of students?
  • Heavy competition from other institutions
  • Faculty buy-in of online programs is often problematic
  • Limited academic support for fully-online programs
  • Middle States’ strict compliance standards
  • Small team of two in instructional technology at the college

Top Solutions

  • Contracted third-party (Synergis Education) to partner with the Instructional Technology team.
  • Established a list of acceptable Equivalent Instructional Activities (EIAs) for faculty
  • Devised standardized experiences and expectations via a Student Readiness Course and Faculty Online Training Certification course (FOTC)
  • Customized a Peer Review process for each course

EIAs & Accompanying Technology

The list includes equivalent instructional activities, how they can be assessed, and the technology that can be used in Blackboard for the activity.

  • Icebreakers
  • Interviews
  • Journals
  • Oral Reports
  • Peer Reivew
  • Quizzes
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Simulations
  • Wikis
  • Web Designs
  • Case Briefs
  • Concept Mapping
  • Debates
  • Gaming
  • Document Analysis
  • Gaming
  • Field Work
  • Essays

Student Online Readiness Course

Homegrown and in a Blackboard course. Students have to finish this course before they can take an online course at the College. There are learning modules with activities and then one final overall quiz.

Teaching Technologies

Peer Review Process

  • Once a course Faculty Instructional Guide is completed, the school dean, peer faculty members, IT staff, and the Synergis designer (via WebEX) attend a peer review session.
  • The faculty member presents the course materials, activities, and assignments, and answers.
  • They use the Quality Matters model.

Expected Outcomes

  • All online instructors will be certified prior to teaching their course in Blackboard.
  • Success rate of Online Student Readiness course will improve student retention.
  • Ongoing technology support in FOTC will improve instructor confidence with technology.



About Meegan
Meegan has over fifteen years experience working in higher education. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Statistics from Western Michigan University and a Master of Education with an emphasis on Instructional Technology from American InterContinental University Online. She is currently the Instructional Technologist/Designer at Grand Rapids Community College where her main focus is helping faculty to develop and deliver quality online and hybrid courses.

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