Feature Friday: Partners in Online Teaching (Faculty Associates)

Posted on: April 2, 2021

In Spring 2020 when James Madison University faculty had to move all their classes online in under two weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Libraries jumped into action to provide online guides, virtual workshops, and consultation services to support faculty with the transition.

A year later, we are no longer in emergency mode, but many faculty are partnering with the Libraries to ensure the same quality of teaching across their in-person, online, and hybrid classes. We have learned that the richest learning opportunities come from combining personalized consultations and research-based resources with peer-to-peer support from faculty who have experienced the same challenges.

This is where the Spring 2021 Libraries Faculty Associates come in. Many offices on campus have faculty associates, including the Writing Center, the Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI), and others. Currently these faculty associates work with the Online Learning team in the Libraries to support faculty in three focus areas: online teaching, online learning, and research and creativity

In the Q&A below, get to know our three faculty associates and how other JMU faculty can benefit from working with them.

If you need support with online and hybrid teaching, we invite you to:

  • join our Institute for Online & Hybrid Learning (learn more)
  • drop in to one of our virtual office hours
  • browse our Guide to Hybrid & Online Teaching for faculty
  • request a consultation with our staff or faculty associates
  • mark your calendar for our collaborative office hours with CFI, which will offer themed breakout rooms on topics like Zoom, teaching high enrollment classes, setting expectations, and more (Tuesdays 11-12:30 and Wednesdays 1-2:30 during April 20-28, May 4-12, and August)

If you have experience with online teaching that you would like to share, we invite you to:

  • volunteer as a panelist in our next Faculty Forum 
  • write a case study about your experience that we can share with other faculty

Contact Dr. Juhong Christie Liu, Head of Online Learning at JMU Libraries, if you have questions or would like to explore additional ways of connecting with our online learning team members and faculty associates.

Meet Our Faculty Associates

Dr. Dayna Henry (Health Sciences)
Online Learning focus

Dr. Dayna Henry holds a dual role in the Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI) and JMU Libraries. She is also co-chair of JMU’s Engaged Learning Consortium. Since her arrival, she has been lending her expertise in engaged learning to the rest of the Libraries team and has hosted a series of faculty forums. After one of the forums, the presenters and faculty participants alike expressed interest in continuing the conversation in an alternative format. Now Dr. Henry is facilitating a process for faculty to share creative cases of online learning with other faculty by publishing them with PressbooksEDU, hosted by JMU Libraries.

Dr. Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger (Education)
Online Teaching focus

Dr. Bollinger started her work in December, when the Libraries received a request from the College of Education to help a group of seven adjunct faculty who had never taught online classes. Dr. Bollinger, who also teaches in the College of Education, co-led an orientation with Dr. Juhong Christie Liu and then worked with the faculty as a peer mentor. This semester, she is offering a series of faculty forums to share best practices for quality teaching in an online environment. This work will continue for the rest of the spring and early summer.

Dr. Iccha Basnyat (Communication Studies)
Creativity and Research focus

Dr. Iccha Basnyat

Since the pandemic, we have received many requests about facilitation of online discussions for large classes. Prior to 2020, JMU had a cap of 32 students in online classes, or in some cases as many as 50. The pandemic necessitated larger online classes not only at JMU, but across the globe. As part of our effort to identify best practices and technology for large class facilitation, Dr. Basnyat is conducting research into the learning and teaching experience  with an artificial intelligence (AI) supported online discussion platform called Packback. Dr. Basnyat teaches qualitative methodology in the School of Communication Studies, so she was well suited to generate research questions and provide guidance on research methodology and compliance. This research will help JMU to make decisions about software to support online learning, and possible future dissemination of the results could make a contribution even more broadly.

Q&A with Drs. Bollinger, Henry, and Basnyat

Q: What are some exciting aspects of this faculty associate position for you? 

Henry: I receive so much knowledge and professional development by working with the instructional designers in Libraries. In addition to the workshops and institutes offered, I am excited by all of the new ideas for improving my own teaching that I have been exposed to working with Libraries. Additionally, one of the reasons that I enjoy faculty development work is that I can positively impact faculty and hopefully, all of the students they teach. Learning new things helps my students but helping faculty with their teaching can improve the teaching and learning experiences for so many more. 

Bollinger: One of the most exciting parts of working as a faculty associate is working with like-minded folks from across campus that I wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to collaborate with.

Basnyat: I am excited to work with an interdisciplinary team on research. In my research as a health communication scholar, I am always interested in ensuring it is community engaged and applied. However, working on educational research is new to me. It’s exciting to know that it is applied and the outcome has a direct impact on our JMU community. I am also excited about collaborating with faculty on the awareness of quality teaching. It’s amazing to see the work libraries faculty and staff do behind the scene to make faculty life easier, and to be part of that. 

Q: What are some previous successes and experiences that bring you to this position?

Henry: I have been providing faculty support and mentoring through the Online and Hybrid Learning Institute since 2017. I mostly helped faculty think about how to make their online courses engaging to students and invite them to think about what is possible in an online environment that would be challenging in a larger face-to-face course. I also provided 1:1 mentoring for many faculty through the institute and my own department and college. This work increased when we switched to online learning in mid-March last year because of the pandemic and continued through the summer. I am also a faculty developer with the Center for Faculty Innovation where I help faculty research about their teaching in the Engaged-Teacher Scholar Program. The CFI has taught me how to design and evaluate faculty development programs and I am using these skills now to help Libraries. 

Bollinger: Previously I have worked with faculty in the Libraries to learn how to build a 3D printer and then integrate 3D printing into my literacy education courses. I’ve also worked with faculty in the Libraries to use a video-based peer coaching tool called Sibme where students (current and future teachers) record themselves teaching and then a peer can make comments at specific time points on their video.

Basnyat: I bring my over a decade of experience in conducting research to the Online Learning team and collaborate on research projects related to learning and technologies. My research focuses on the intersections of culture, gender and health inequalities. I am interested in the health experiences of marginalized and vulnerable women in transnational contexts. I have published over two dozen peer-reviewed journals publications in leading journals in my field. I am currently on the editorial boards of Health Communication, Journal of Women & Aging and Journal of Applied Communication Research. I am also an associate editor on the upcoming International Encyclopedia of Health Communication and for the journal Frontiers in Communication: Health Communication. I currently serve on the National Communication Association’s Research Council. 

Q: How do you envision the focus areas of this position contributing to the next stage of online and hybrid learning for JMU?

Henry: I am hopeful that JMU will see the value in continuing to offer online courses and programs because it makes more accessible the high-quality of teaching JMU is known for to students who can’t or don’t want the more “traditional residential college experience”. I see this as giving access to top-notch education to a more diverse group of future Dukes. 

Bollinger: One of my goals for this position is to help faculty with quality online teaching. I’m working to develop an observation instrument that can be used to observe faculty teaching online.

Basnyat: As we increasingly think about online and hybrid learning for our JMU community, I believe the educational research related to learning and technologies will be beneficial in supporting our faculty. I have been the recipient of these efforts as faculty, and I am excited to be part of doing the research and contribute to these efforts as a member of the Online Learning Team. 

Q: What successes or meaningful connections have you experienced in this role?

Henry: This program has not only introduced me to more of the faculty in Libraries who provide faculty development, but also to faculty across the university who want to learn and share with us their successes in online learning that occurred because of the pandemic. I usually ended my presentation to the online learning institute attendees with an invitation to think about the ways in which their online courses may improve their face-to-face courses. When the pandemic is more under control, I am hopeful that all faculty who have had the opportunity to teach online or hybrid courses continue to think about the ways in which these experiences will help us create better courses. 

Bollinger: I have made connections with faculty in the school of nursing and online and distance learning. Having conversations with these faculty members has provided me with new perspectives and has strengthened my teaching.

Basnyat: My role has allowed me to connect with JMU faculty who teach with Packback and other researchers from University of North Texas with similar interests, and also be able to collaborate with other faculty associates on projects related to research such as facilitating focus groups on best practices for teaching online.

If you want to support more projects like this, you can make a gift to JMU Libraries.

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