OIA Professional Development for Teaching Online and Hybrid Courses

OIA Professional Development for Teaching Online and Hybrid Courses (PDF version of this post)

Garry Forger, March 2017

Strategic Directions

The UA Office of Instruction and Assessment (OIA) was established in 2010.  The OIA and its predecessors, the Faculty Center for Instructional Innovation and the Learning Technologies Center, have evolved to meet the changing demands of the faculty here at the UA.

When the OIA was first created, and even more so its antecedents, our services were much more about creating materials and classes for instructors. Over the years, we have progressed to having more of a focus on professional development and teaching instructors how to create their courses and the materials they use in those courses, and have de-emphasized our focus on creating materials for instructors.

As part of this evolution, our offerings of face-to-face workshops, online mini-courses, one on one consultations and self-paced tutorials  have been refined to meet the increasing needs of our constituents. In addition, the Certificate in College Teaching has become a very popular venue for instructors to develop more of their teaching abilities. Many of these training opportunities target online and hybrid teaching specifically, and others develop capacity to develop skills for teaching regardless of platform.


Some specific examples of the professional development opportunities that the OIA provides for instructors to develop their skills and strategies for teaching online, face-to-face and in hybrid classes are provided here:

Workshops offered, face-to-face, in the Fall 2016 semester:

  • What Do New Instructors Need to Know About D2L?
  • How Can I Use the D2L Gradebook Effectively?
  • How Can I Be Sure that Students Get Feedback in D2L?
  • How Can I Manage Content to Help Students Stay Organized?
  • What Do TAs Need to Know About D2L?
  • How Can I Build a Useful Syllabus in D2L?
  • How Can I Use Clickers Effectively?
  • How Can I Use Rubrics Effectively?
  • How Can I Create an Inclusive Classroom?
  • How Can I Get My Class Off to a Good Start?
  • How Can I Use VoiceThread Effectively?
  • Developing an Application-ready Course Syllabus
  • Writing Diversity Statements
  • Incorporating Informal Writing Opportunities
  • Developing your Teaching Statement
  • Reading Strategies to Support Student Learning
  • Groups and Discussions in D2L
  • Introduction to Quizzes in D2L
  • Designing Engaging Writing Assignments
  • Developing Rubrics for Fair, Consistent, Efficient Grading
  • Objective-Based Learning Workshop


Mini-courses are facilitated, fully-online courses that vary in length from 5 days to 2 weeks. Participants interact with these mini-courses in D2L course sites with active facilitation by members of the OIA professional development team. Mini-courses are offered multiple times throughout the academic year and during summer sessions, and include the following:

·        Course-Level Assessment 

·        Effective Online Discussions

·        Teaching a Large Online Course

·        Creating Communities in Online Courses

·        Introduction to Teaching Online

·        Course Development

·        VoiceThread

·        Teaching a Large Online Course

OIA Self-Paced Tutorials

OIA Tutorials are a series of self-enrolled and self-paced online tutorials. They have been designed for any UA instructor, including graduate teaching assistants, and are offered through D2L. 

The Tutorials present theory and evidence for various teaching practices, along with practical examples and prompts for enrollees to apply these practices to their teaching.

Available tutorials are:

·        Active Student Learning 

·        Planning Effective Assessments

·        Teaching in Labs and Studio Courses

·        Teaching Diverse Students

·        Giving Feedback on Student Writing

·        D2L New Instructor Orientation

·        Using the Respondus LockDown Browser


OIA Mini-Primers are short introductions to a variety of teaching topics. They have been designed for any instructor, including graduate teaching assistants.

The mini-primers serve as a gateway for individual inquiry and as a complementary resource for a consultation or workshop on the topic. 

Topics covered by the Mini-Primers include finding resources, tips for Graduate Teaching Assistants, using clickers, flipping your class and more.  This is a resource that the OIA is actively adding to.


The OIA Faculty & Future Faculty Development team members help instructors create a new course or redesign current courses, suggest strategies to improve student learning and engagement, and answer questions about teaching and learning. 

Our team members are skilled in instructional design and learning theory, and can suggest research-based strategies for in-person, online, or hybrid courses. We can conduct classroom observations and student focus groups, review and make suggestions to improve a syllabus, help interpret TCE results, guide faculty learning communities, and talk with instructors about teaching concerns.

In addition, the OIA Instructional Technologies group provides extensive support for Desire2Learn (D2L). Desire2Learn (D2L) is a web-based course management system designed to create rich online learning environments for students. D2L includes features such as an electronic assignment submission, automated gradebook, discussion boards and quizzes. The listing of workshops above contains some specific D2L workshops that the group has provided. This group also provides individual support to instructors on their D2L use. An example of the amount of support that they provide is illustrated by the statistics for support for January of 2017:

  • Number of Email exchanges:  997
  • Phone Calls for D2L Support: 528 (an increase of 111 calls over January 2016)
  • Open Labs (office hours where instructors can stop in for individual assistance): 67

Certificate in College Teaching

The Certificate in College Teaching (CCT) is a 10-unit graduate certificate program consisting courses that provide foundational information and help develop the competencies necessary to teach effectively in higher education. Our courses are known for their enriching collegial atmosphere where learning about learner-centered theories and instructional strategies guides students’ development as reflective and effective professional educators. Through an approach focusing on theory into practice, post-baccalaureate students (including post-baccalaureate staff and faculty), are prepared to become outstanding teaching professionals.

The purpose of the Certificate is to provide students with opportunities to develop knowledge and skills useful in their current and future careers as college/adult-learning teaching professionals.

The certificate has been available through the OIA since 2011 and certificates have been awarded to 120+ individuals.

Collaborative Learning Spaces

Over the past three years, the UA has begun to convert traditional lecture-style classrooms into more flexible, collaborative rooms. The rooms are configured to promote student-student collaboration, and they range in size from 40 to 250 student capacity. Instructors who teach in these rooms are expected to modify their teaching approaches to take advantage of active-learning and collaborative strategies; many of these strategies changing the instructional model so that students engage with content outside of class time, freeing time for participation in collaborative activities in the classroom. Beginning in Summer 2017, the OIA will provide a hybrid online/in-person mini-course for instructors new to these rooms to help them to prepare for teaching in these new environments. Members of the Faculty & Future Faculty Development Team will consult with these instructors as needed to help them implement their courses in the collaborative spaces. 

Tracking Success

OIA professional development offerings can also be viewed in the UA’s UAccess Learning system. This centrally supported records system allows the people who attend professional development workshops and classes to track their progress and print certificates of attendance, and records of participation can be viewed by the employee’s supervisor in their college or department. To see a catalog of the OIA courses offered in the UAccess Learning system, login to the system with your UA Net ID, choose Find Learning and search for the word ‘Teaching’ in the search by keyword window. All OIA offerings begin with the term Teaching.