Innovation hub helps faculty implement online and blended learning programs

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) has established an Online Learning Innovation Hub to spur development and use of online and blended learning approaches.

According to CELT director Ann Marie VanDerZanden, the hub will serve as "idea central" to foster collaboration across campus and allow Iowa State to maintain a national presence in the rapidly evolving field of online learning.

Roundtable, April 1

The Online Learning Innovation Hub will host its first event, a roundtable discussion on remapping the curriculum, on Tuesday, April 1 (12:10 p.m., 1230 Communications).

"Students are taking online and blended courses in record numbers," notes VanDerZanden. "At the same time, faculty continue to expand their use of learning technologies."

Ralph Napolitano, CELT associate director for online education, said virtually all students are involved in some form of online learning. "Used properly, online and blended approaches (which combine online and face-to-face instruction) can be powerful tools for enhancing the learning experience. We are actively developing such approaches and are deeply engaged in the national conversation about the best ways to integrate these tools into on-campus and distance-based programs.

"Our goal is simple," adds Napolitano. "We aim to provide a rich educational experience of the highest quality to all students, wherever and however we reach them."

The hub will provide institutional leadership, direction and support for the most effective implementation of online and blended approaches in Iowa State's academic programs. Projects will focus on four main themes:

  • Quality: Promoting excellence in online and blended instruction through outcome-oriented course design and student-centered pedagogy
  • Innovation: Fostering innovative technology-enhanced instruction across campus by working with faculty to develop new tools and creative teaching methodologies
  • Collaboration: Building and nurturing a community of excellence across the institution for idea sharing and cooperative development 
  • Support: Providing assistance and guidance in the use and integration of learning technologies, online resources, and related instructional techniques 

These efforts will complement existing programming offered through CELT, including the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute, the Preparing Future Faculty and New Faculty Scholars programs, and the Center for Integration of Research in Teaching and Learning.

Initial efforts focused on continuous improvement of online, blended courses

First-year projects include intensive faculty training and support in course design and teaching methods that focus on high-quality instruction. As a part of this initiative, the hub is implementing the "Quality Matters" program, which provides rubrics, training, peer review processes, and course certifications to help faculty continuously improve the quality of their online and blended courses. While participation in the program is voluntary, CELT leaders hope faculty will take advantage of the opportunity.

Other hub projects include the Blended Learning Booster program (helping faculty to improve their course through the appropriate use of new technology) and the Blended Learning Roundtable (bringing together campus leaders in online instruction and learning technologies to share ideas and discuss new innovative approaches to support learning). The hub also will provide seed funding for Iowa State faculty to develop or implement new methods of online teaching.

Innovation hub to be located in Library

The Online Learning Innovation Hub will be located at the Parks Library, in the former Map Room, beginning in August. The newly renovated space will house the CELT Learning Technologies team and will feature collaboration space for faculty and instructional support staff.