Innovations that Inspire

Saint Mary's College

St. Mary's College of California, School of Economics and Business Administration

Category: Teach - Pedagogy and Learning

Location: Moraga, California, United States
Accreditation Status: Business


Innovation Statement

St. Mary’s has created a new Digital Driver’s License faculty program to ensure that SEBA faculty members teach as well online as they do in the traditional face-to-face classroom.


Call to Action

The School of Economics and Business Administration at St. Mary’s College of California has been a national leader in online education, but we were concerned that the growth of online offerings might outstrip the supply of teachers certified to teach in the new online environment. We therefore developed the DDL to ensure that systematic preparation would take place before anyone would enter the hybrid classroom, either face to face or online. We further wanted to ensure that the students in our ever-expanding hybrid programs continue to have a positive experience.

To do this, it is important that we provide hybrid students not only with the technology to thrive but also with professors who are both pedagogically and digitally proficient. Teaching online can be very different from teaching in the traditional classroom. This is particularly true of the kind of program we offer because it relies heavily on advanced synchronous technologies, such as voice-enabled web-conference, and few faculty have experience using it for teaching. The kind of authoring we are now asking them to do, which involves rich multimedia, requires the kind of preparation appropriate for educational certification.


Innovation Description

The program’s coursework requires faculty use of a new digital media center specifically designed for the initiative. It includes instruction in managing virtual interactions, real-time voice-enabled web conferencing and virtual breakout groups, and online discussion sessions. Participants will also develop proficiency in producing new media content, such as podcasts and digital voice grading, and creating virtual learning exercises using 3D tools similar to those used in the development of electronic games and computer simulations.

After completing the coursework, faculty members will receive a DDL certificate acknowledging their pedagogical abilities as online educators. Approximately 36 faculty members are expected to have earned their Digital Driver’s License over an initial two-year period. Faculty in the program include professors in the school’s Hybrid Executive MBA, MS in Accounting, and MS in Financial Analysis and Investment Management programs.


Impact

By the end of the 2015–16 academic year, 36 faculty members will have completed the coursework. The program has proved so successful among business school faculty that it has now been opened up to other departments at the college, with the Modern Languages Department having completed its first class at the end of 2015. In the near future, all business school faculty who would like to teach in one of the school's hybrid (half-online) programs will need to have successfully completed the Digital Driver's License program.


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