A-State Assists Teachers with Online Course Preparation

JONESBORO – When K-12 educators resume teaching next week, several will have the benefit of summer workshops offered by Arkansas State University.

A-State offered the workshops, virtually, to help educators with developing online courses.  Interest in the workshops on July 9, 16 and 23 was high, with registration hitting almost 140 for the final session on July 30.

Topics included best practices for online design and delivery, facilitation, online group work, and student interaction.  A common thread through the workshops was the emphasis on techniques for building student engagement in online courses, enhancing critical thinking, and improving retention.

“When we initially started working on summer workshops, my vision was to offer A-State faculty workshops in online pedagogy,” recalls Dr. Summer DeProw, assistant vice chancellor for assessment and accreditation.  “Dr. Thilla Sivakumaran, vice chancellor for Global Engagement and Outreach, connected me with Matthew Postins with Academic Partnerships, and that’s where the workshops began to come to fruition.

“We soon learned our ASU System institutions wanted to join the workshops, and then K-12 teachers throughout the state, so we opened the workshops to all.  In the end, we had a great collaboration between A-State, ASU System institutions, other two-year colleges, and many K-12 teachers,” DeProw added.

Dr. Mike Skelton, superintendent of the Benton School District, talked about the importance of the seminars to the participating teachers.

“The courses are important for advancement in knowledge and skill set of educators with the ultimate goal of having a positive impact on student achievement and success,” he said.  “AMI (alternate method of instruction) material was not necessarily developed for 100% on-line delivery, but with the current COVID-19 situation, it has led to this being the case. We are having to provide more training to all stakeholders in an effort to deliver on-line instruction at a higher level.”

Skills the teachers gained by participating in the courses will be very valuable in the current environment.

“An increased level of knowledge and understanding of what successful on-line instruction should look like is extremely important. The positive reinforcement of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) training has played an important role in on-line course development because the course work is focusing on essential learning standards, which are at the heart of the PLC process. The increased ability to have meaningful communication with stakeholders and technology skill acquisition play a key role in the courses as well.”

Many K-12 and postsecondary instructors began to exchange ideas for hands-on learning and software to facilitate learning for science, health sciences and technical training, DeProw also said.

“After the workshops were complete, we sent all the workshop resources, ideas for assessing learning online, and links to the workshop videos,” she added.

Skelton said he will be encouraging parents to please remain patient and flexible as educators continue to make advancements and modifications to the on-line processes.

He underscored the value of A-State’s program for online course development, saying it will help the teachers ” . . . to better understand the process of developing more productive and meaningful on-line lessons/instructional delivery.”

This and other news releases also available at: AState.edu/News

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