Transforming Digital Learning

Kate Parker and Jackie Ricords
February 15, 2021

The pandemic of 2020 sparked remarkable moments of human persistence. Instructional designers at centers for teaching and learning worked long hours, many fighting off fatigue and burnout to make face-to-face courses that were rushed online be meaningful for students. Colleges and universities went into overdrive figuring out how to create online courses and prepare faculty and students to use them. NYU psychology professor Jay Van Bavel led his class via Zoom while trapped in an elevator with his kids.

While no college or university is out of the woods yet, we are beginning to see institutions turn from emergency response to planning for sustained readiness. Online and hybrid classes have proven to be more than just a stop-gap measure in the face of the pandemic. Done right, these flexible modes of delivery can offer greater access to more learners. Indeed, online learning must become a richer and deeper part of our learning infrastructure, including for courses offered on campus in face-to-face classrooms, labs, and lecture halls. 

While it may feel like all of us have been trapped right there with Professor Van Bavel for many months, we know that like us, you are committed to enhancing the learning experience for every student, in every course. We know that budgets are stressed from states losing tax revenues during the pandemic. We know that your colleagues—faculty, instructional design staff, educational technology staff, administration—are currently overwhelmed in getting through this year and stressed about what is to come. 

We know you are striving to do more with less. And we are here to help.

Recent events have inspired us to take our decades of experience in instructional design and educational technology and launch LearningMate Transform—a solution that unifies and empowers institutions to ensure flexibility for instructional delivery, both on and off-campus. LearningMate Transform is a subscription tool paired with instructional design and technology services that enable institutions to rapidly transition to effective online and blended learning.

 

Supporting Course Design

Successful support of course design balances the need to ensure consistency in course design and learning experiences while respecting faculty expertise and academic freedom. 

Grounded in sound instructional design principles, our LearningMate Transform Course Starter Kit includes framework materials that our team customizes to each institution’s needs. For example, our team could adapt our discussion board strategy which includes guidelines and institution-wide posts to include course-specific posts using insights from learning science about the role of intrinsic motivation in learning. The Course Starter Kit is not a straight-jacket. Rather, it is a heuristic that helps faculty plan and draft necessary content more efficiently. Faculty will know what motivates their students; faculty will know what their learning objectives are. 

There are many stakeholders invested in course design across a college or university. In addition to working with faculty, we collaborate closely with academic leadership, LMS and library representatives, and others to customize the following: 

  • Learning outcomes plan
  • Video and interactive frameworks for student practice
  • “Getting Started” communication plan for your LMS
  • Discussion prompts and directions
  • Assignments and assessments
  • Centralized rubrics for common course components
  • ADA compatible slide deck templates
  • Curated OER and library resources
  • Faculty success guide

 

Supporting Faculty 

Professors vary in their experience, skill, and joy when using digital tools to aid their teaching. When LearningMate’s instructional designers support faculty, we meet them where they are. 

Our support begins not with telling, but with listening. We start our conversations with fundamental questions: Who are your students? Why are they in this course? What do they need to learn? How will you know they have learned it? What excites you most about the subject and skills you are teaching? How can you motivate your students to learn?

We work with faculty on how to apply their answers to those questions by making the best use of their institution’s processes for course design, development, and delivery. We help focus faculty time where it is needed most.

 

Supporting Colleges and Universities

Each college and university has a strong sense of identity and a passionate commitment to student success. There are many measures of success: student retention rates, graduation rates, evaluations of teaching, achievements within courses that support QEP initiatives, employment rates, and more. But the validity and reliability of any of those measures begin in the classrooms—on-campus or virtual—where professors and students meet. 

No matter your success metrics, meeting them always comes back to designing courses that support or provide evidence for those metrics. The heart and soul, the reason institutions exist, is to support the teaching and learning in those courses. 

LearningMate Transform enables you to map your learning outcomes, competencies, and skills from the course to the program to the university-level. This allows stakeholders across the institution to ensure the courses offered are preparing students for success. 

We are already seeing the positive impact LearningMate Transform can have on learning. Learn more about what we can do together by visiting us online at https://learningmate.com/transform.

Authors:

Kate Parker

Kate Parker

VP, Content Services, Higher Education

Jackie Ricords

Jackie Ricords

Transform Evangelist

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