Over the past year, I have been challenged by the question of how to measure success of faculty development. This is not a challenge unique to CSU Channel Islands or the initiatives of Teaching & Learning Innovations. It is a regular topic of discussion amongst the broad range of professionals that support faculty. This year T&LI decided to start tackling this issue in earnest. We chose to focus on one problem in particular and see if we could, not only create a solution, but also measure success. The challenge we addressed was, how to create faculty development that reaches a broad range of faculty when everyone knows, “nobody comes to workshops.” Quite frankly, I was really tired of counting the number of attendees at workshops and pretending like we were measuring the work we were doing. We decided to tackle the issue of increasing faculty engagement and intentionally examining ways to measure the success of our efforts.
We addressed our goal of increasing faculty engagement by developing a new model for faculty development, “Untethered Faculty Development.” Untethering means we remove time and place as barriers to faculty learning. Faculty can learn when and where they choose, matching our digitally connected society. We have blogged about this in detail on EdSurge if you want to learn more. One of the primary components of untethering is having a blog available. The blog is used to share materials and artifacts from workshops and events as well as a place for faculty to share about their teaching and learning. The blog has developed into a just-in-time resource for faculty development. The blog also provided us with a great starting point for examining our impact.
We wanted to know 3 things about our efforts:
- Would our faculty be willing to blog?
- Would people visit the blog?
- Would the blog reach people that did not otherwise attend workshops?
It is now the end of the semester and a good time to see what we were able to accomplish.
Would our faculty be willing to blog?
Absolutely! We have had 14 CI faculty write blog posts for the T&LI blog. These posts consist of writings about teaching and learning with topics ranging from reflections about teaching online to ideas for teaching academic reading. During the Fall of 2016 we also began to include Workshop Resource posts as a way to share resources from on-campus workshops to a broader audience. We have invited faculty to write for us for the spring 2017 and are excited to see what they share.
Did people visit the blog?
Why yes, yes they did!! We have seen traffic on our blog more than double since we began inviting faculty to blog. We have slowly moved from T&LI staff bloggers to faculty bloggers. In 2014 most of our blogs were made by members of the T&LI team. Our 2015 posts made by a mix of staff and faculty and in 2016 our blog posts have been authored exclusively by faculty. As you can see from the chart below, the move to faculty bloggers significantly increased the number of people visiting our site. Digging into the data a little deeper, we learn that the audience for our blog is mostly from the United States, but reaches around the globe. Individual blog posts range from 20 to 330 unique page views. At this time, we can’t tell you how many of those visitors are from CI, but we know most of the traffic to our site comes from csuci.edu and Twitter.
Does the blog reach people that did not otherwise attend workshops?
This question is the one that is a bit more difficult to answer. Based on the data we have, it is challenging to know if the visitors to our site are engaged faculty that attend workshops and go to the site for additional information or if they are faculty that don’t otherwise engage with T&LI. We can tell you that we have seen an increase in faculty seeking additional information after reading a blog post and faculty learning about the support offered at CI after reading T&LI blog posts. We have also had faculty tell us that they tried a new strategy or a new tool as a result of reading about what another faculty member was doing in his/her class. Beyond CI, we have been contacted by other universities, and even the Swiss Ministry of Education, about using our resources in faculty development courses. At this point, it is easy to say the blog is helping us reach beyond the typical workshop mode of faculty development, but it is not yet clear if we are reaching faculty that are not otherwise engaged in faculty development.
Our next steps are:
- Continue to share about the excellent teaching and learning taking place at CI via our blog
- Build upon the idea of Untethering so all faculty development on campus has a just-in-time component
- Learn more about which faculty we are reaching and which faculty we are not reaching
- Investigate what happens after a faculty member reads the blog posts
We invite your thoughts and suggestions. Don’t be shy, let us know if the T&LI blog has been a resource for you or if you are interested in being a T&LI faculty blogger.