IU East faculty collaborate to publish book on best practices in online teaching

For the past decade, Indiana University East has been regarded as an innovative leader in online education. A new book will soon be released that will share the wealth of experience and knowledge IU East faculty have gained in designing and instructing online courses.

The book, “Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning across Academic Disciplines,” published by George Mason University Press and edited by IU East Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Ross Alexander, will be available on August 17, 2017. The book targets faculty members, course developers, instructional designers, and administrators invested and interested in online teaching and learning in colleges and universities of all types.

“The extent of which our faculty have contributed to this book is impressive,” said IU East Chancellor Kathy Cruz-Uribe. “Our nationally-ranked online degree completion programs are successful because of the dedicated faculty who work hard to develop courses to be effectively taught online.”

The book includes chapters from 42 faculty members across 25 disciplines, including social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, nursing, education and business administration. The 302-page book is centered on three themes on discussion and analysis of best-practices and strategies in pedagogical approaches, instructional design and delivery, and an analysis and overview of teaching techniques and engagement tools to be integrated and used by faculty and course designers.

Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate said, “This invaluable volume is perfectly timed to help the increasing number of faculty members who are teaching online for the first time to learn the fundamentals, and the many experienced online instructors to enhance their skills, so that they can provide an immersive, challenging, and effective learning environment for online students.”

The best-practices book came to fruition under the direction of Ross Alexander, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). He said many faculty within HSS were publishing their research and expertise on online teaching in academic journals, such as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, when he had the idea to bring the faculty together to collaborate on the book.

Though the idea initiated with publishing the work of faculty from HSS, it soon became clear to Alexander that faculty in other disciplines at IU East should contribute their work as well.

“This is one of the first texts written in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) in the online environment that showcases and highlights such a wide array of diverse academic disciplines,” Alexander said. “Most works focus just on one or perhaps two disciplines, while this book has a more comprehensive approach that features a multitude of academic disciplines.”

The 42 faculty members who contributed to the book are former or current IU East full-time professors, deans and administrators, lecturers, and adjunct faculty members. Each of the contributors have earned Quality Matters Online Teaching Level 1 certification, while many others have additionally earned Level 2 or higher certifications. The collaborative effort to include faculty contributions from across disciplines allows for the inclusion of different perspectives in online teaching, Alexander said.

“Chapters demonstrate not only academic best practices in online teaching and course design, but also the expertise of the co-authors, all of whom possess extensive certifications in Quality Matters and other nationally-recognized trainings,” Alexander said.  “This book shows the marriage of best practices in online teaching and course design. We’re very proud that our faculty have such an in depth and diverse knowledge in designing, developing and teaching online courses.”

IU East’s nationally-ranked online degree programs offers the high quality of an Indiana University degree. IU East offers 17 online degree completion programs and certificates for undergraduate and graduate students. In 2017, over 50 percent of the credit hours taught at IU East were online with students enrolled from across Indiana plus 47 states, the District of Columbia and 15 foreign countries.

Faculty delved into designing and teaching online courses in 2007 to offer a wider variety and options for students who live and work throughout the east central Indiana and west central Ohio region.

Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Michelle Malott said the book is a true reflection of the passion and expertise IU East faculty have for student learning in an online environment.

“The authors have combined their collective online teaching experience and training with both their own and peer-reviewed scholarship about online education, to compile an insightful and very practical collection of best practices in online education,” Malott said. “The success of IU East’s online education offerings, across a variety of disciplines, is due in large part to the informed, innovative and results-based approach faculty routinely use to as part of their commitment to providing an excellent online learning experience for their students.”

IU East has established itself as a leader in online education.

Larry Richards is the former executive vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at IU East. He oversaw much of the development of IU East’s online degree completion programs.

“When IU East began its online education initiative in 2007, it did so as a strategic priority for the long-term sustainability of the campus,” Richards said. “The faculty engaged energetically in the initiative, and this volume attests to the seriousness with which they took the quality of education to be delivered in this still relatively new medium.”

Richards said faculty challenged the status quo on how online courses were being developed, often implanting innovative strategies for teaching online courses previously believed to be incompatible with the online format.

“The challenges were different for each discipline, and some of the courses adapted for online delivery were proclaimed by a few disciplinary ‘experts’ as impossible to teach online. However, using the technologies available, faculty and staff succeeded in making asynchronous delivery of courses highly interactive and in developing ways to give students hands-on experiences that, in some cases, exceeded the learning possibilities of the traditional classroom,” Richards said. “While the technologies continue to evolve, a spirit of innovation and change has kept IU East at the forefront of online education and has indeed contributed to the robust growth and financial stability of the campus. All of the authors of this book are to be congratulated for the care with which they have taken on this task and for the creativity and hard work they have put into it.”

“Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning across Academic Disciplines” will be available through publisher, George Mason University Press, and on Amazon, both traditionally and as an e-book.

About IU East Online Degree Completion Programs
Indiana University East has an enrollment of nearly 4,500 students. IU East is both a traditional campus that excels in innovative learning options and a virtual campus with select online degree completion programs. The university’s customized bachelor’s and master’s programs – a portfolio of over 50 degree program options – anticipate the growing needs of citizens in the region, state and nation.