Ten faculty members from the University of Houston-Victoria and ten from Coastal Bend College participated in the first of three academies designed to improve online course instructional strategies. The event was held at the Marriott River Center Hotel in San Antonio from July 26 to July 28.
The distance learning academies are part of a program arranged between CBC and UHV titled “Improving Hispanic Attainment in South Texas: Building Community Among the High School, the Community College, and the University.”
Funded by a Title V grant awarded to CBC, the goal of the Title V program is to create more educational opportunities for Hispanics, low-income and traditionally under-represented students who attempt a baccalaureate degree.
“Online courses give many of the region’s under-represented students a flexible option, and the number of online courses is on the rise,” said UHV President Tim Hudson. “So it’s good to see faculty from both institutions collaborate on such a crucial part of online teaching. In the end, the student benefits from this joint effort.”
In addition to the summer academy, there will be one held in the fall and next spring. The summer academy participants are also expected to take part in the remaining two.
According to Chari Norgard, UHV senior director of Student and Academic Services, the first three-day academy familiarized faculty members with online teaching strategies. She also said this 24-hour academy also provided a relationship-building opportunity for CBC and UHV faculty members.
“Creating an atmosphere conducive for teamwork and community building was easy,” said Norgard, “The idea was to pair UHV and CBC faculty members who then shared online teaching strategies and collaborated throughout the academy.”
CBC and UHV have agreed to offer students a “2+2” transfer plan, which allows students to map college and university coursework from each campus for an easy, efficient transition to a junior- and senior-level institution.
Dr. Teresa Le Sage, UHV assistant professor and academy participant, called the first academy a success.
“I think this first one was predominately to make sure everyone was on the same page and to provide everyone with a chance to become acquainted with one another, and it did just that,” said Le Sage. “Since we have a joint venture with CBC, I think this was an excellent way not only to share and study online teaching strategies but also to strengthen our partnership.”
UHV faculty members were not the only ones who considered this first academy a hit. Bobbie Jo Hill, Coastal Bend College mathematics instructor, said she also found the event helpful in more ways than one.
“Because I don’t have very much online teaching experience, this first academy laid down the fundamentals of teaching online for me,” said Hill. “And being paired with Dr. Patton—who I found to be very knowledgeable in distance learning—was a delight. I received invaluable information and developed a closer connection with our partners at UHV.”
After the completion of each academy, participants receive certification and are eligible to receive a stipend and items, such as cameras, software and other computer-related products to enhance online course presentation.