Faculty Course Development Cohorts

Two instructors in front of a computer

Each term, the College of General Studies (CGS) hosts a multi-month long interdisciplinary cohort of CGS-affiliated instructors who are embarking on the online (re)-design of their courses for the college’s academic programs. Faculty course developers work collaboratively and individually with a team of instructional designers and meet as a group three times during the cohort program. Participants examine established standards and best practices in instructional design; explore innovative ways for creating engaging and effective online experiences; self-assess and share their progress with cohort members; and produce a fully developed online course in the Canvas Learning Management system.

Each virtual meeting is carefully planned to foster productive and valuable conversations among all participants.

Call #1: Building Your Unique Online Course with CGS

In the first group session, instructors have an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a little bit about their experience teaching in the online space. Instructional Designers discuss roles and responsibilities, strategies for developing an engaging and rigorous online course, and the development timelines.

Call #2: Sharing Our Success, Planning for What’s Ahead

During session two, instructors have an opportunity to discuss the early stages of the process—where they’ve found successes, where they’ve hit obstacles, and how they intend to complete their developments. This call also includes a brief “Show and Tell” session where instructors get to show off their course features and demonstrate new tools! Instructional Designers also share project management strategies to help instructors prioritize their remaining work to complete their course builds.

Call #3: Wrapping Up and Preparing for a Smooth Launch

In the final group session, instructors have an opportunity to share what aspects of their courses they’re most excited about, like improved navigation, more streamlined grading, increased interactivity and engagement, and other features that set CGS Online courses apart from the rest.  Instructional Designers share tools and strategies for engaging students in their online class and maintaining the course shell for terms to come.

What our faculty participants say:

The CGS Online Faculty Learning Community provides a highly personalized experience for faculty seeking to strengthen their online teaching. The cohort model provides a supportive, collaborative atmosphere, while the designated mile markers along the way encourage productivity and accountability without feeling rushed. 

One of my favorite aspects of this community is how faculty across different disciplines can compare their approaches to student engagement, assignment sequencing, Canvas course shell organization, and more, which I find particularly helpful whether forging a foundation for a new class or bringing a fresh online perspective to an established face-to-face course.

Megan Kappel, English Composition

Megan Kappel previously directed the Public & Professional Writing (PPW) Program and served as an Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies for the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and the College of General Studies. She enjoys strengthening her pedagogy and instructional design skills through the resources offered here at Pitt and recommends them for anyone interested in becoming a more effective and engaging educator.