By Heather Turner
May 10, 2016
Great minds think alike. They value the ideas of others and they are eager to learn more.
At the ninth annual Oregon State Ecampus Faculty Forum in April, more than 200 great minds came together to share online learning best practices, new methods and emerging technology. OSU faculty, staff and Ecampus students discussed challenges and issues and worked together to create new ways of solving problems.
“I enjoy listening to what my colleagues are doing and sometimes listening to the same struggles that they have, I’m having, too – and then finding solutions together. That’s been a real benefit,” says marketing instructor Nikki Brown.
As a national leader in online education with more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs delivered online, Oregon State Ecampus hosts Faculty Forum annually to create collaborations and provide an outlet for thought-provoking discussions that showcase OSU’s excellence in online education.
It’s an ideal event for faculty members interested in teaching online for the first time or those who want to enhance their skill set.
“It’s inspiring and thought provoking,” says Department of Microbiology research associate Sascha Hallet. “I’m surrounded by many people with a variety of experiences and skills that they can share with me, so I always leave with a plethora of ideas that I want to bring and incorporate into my course.”
“It’s a great place to get inspiration and ideas for improvement about your courses,” says history instructor Katherine Hubler.
This year, 16 interactive sessions featuring individual and panel presentations by Ecampus instructors and staff focused on innovative teaching methods and personal experiences in online course development.
“I always leave with a plethora of ideas that I want to incorporate into my course.”
Topics included online educational tools for engaging students, a groundbreaking multimedia initiative featuring a 3-D microscope lab, project-based learning in online courses, program management, online peer-to-peer teaching observations and ensuring academic integrity in courses.
“As an Ecampus instructor, I want to continually improve the quality of my courses, to get better and better, and it’s hard to do that on your own,” says business instructor Randal Smith. “Ecampus really does a great job of identifying resources and presenting them to us so we can take advantage of those.”
This year’s keynote address by Jan Plass, chair of Digital Media and Learning Sciences at New York University, delved into the topic of emotional design in learning. For example, Plass noted that students who are in a positive mood while learning will have increased creativity. The positive mood, he says, facilitates intrinsic motivation.
The event also featured a panel where Ecampus students shared their experiences in online classes; a hands-on workshop devoted to effective research projects hosted by Ecampus Research Unit Director Katie Linder; and a “test kitchen” where Ecampus instructional designers assisted faculty with navigating online resources.
“I’ve been exposed to several tools that are already available to us through Canvas or through the administrative tools of OSU that I did not know exist and that will probably help me a lot,” says horticulture instructor Betsey Miller. “That is my favorite part about Faculty Forum.”
New this year, Ecampus multimedia developers demonstrated innovative virtual and augmented reality tools that instructors can now utilize in their classes.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s 10th anniversary celebration of Faculty Forum, which will be held Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
“We’ve really grown over the last decade and we’re all looking forward to celebrating the accomplishment of offering this professional development activity to our faculty for the last 10 years,” says Ecampus Course Development and Training Assistant Director Karen Watté.
View photos from the 2016 Ecampus Faculty Forum.