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Saint Mary’s invests in online instruction certification

June 22, 2021

Cardinal Update News Newsletters

Saint Mary’s put students at the center of its strategic plan, Building a Future Full of Hope, and many of our students come to us online. This vision led to the inception, last year, of its first efforts to certify instructors as experts in online education. The 12-week, three course sequence offered through CELT and taught by Dr. Angela Velez-Solic of Rush University has been wildly popular with instructors over the last year, leading to over 400 course completions and 119 Saint Mary’s instructors completing the Advanced Online Instructor Certification course.

The initiative has had support from the highest levels at Saint Mary’s, including our president and provost of the university. In the previous fiscal year, Saint Mary’s invested in its future online with $119,000 in stipends to instructors who completed the course sequence, and this next fiscal year will bring an even more significant investment.

“In keeping with our Lasallian Catholic heritage, we deliver a quality education to our students so our commitment to faculty development and online learning is unwavering. With over 100 instructors completing the certificate this past year alone, it’s clear that our faculty share this commitment as well,” said Brian Schmisek, Ph.D., provost and dean of faculties.

Instructors who complete the courses receive a digital badge through the Credly service for each level completed, signifying their accomplishment and training. Saint Mary’s can use the badges to track who has been through the certification courses, but instructors can also share the badges on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Here are some of the sample comments from instructors who have gone through the courses:

“I went into this course anxious and intimidated. I’ve come out the other side with a greater appreciation for online learning tools, design, and delivery, and I’m much less anxious about trying new tech.”

“As I continue to grow as an educator, I need and want to deepen my knowledge of and proficiency of the resources available to me to be an effective online instructor. Thank you for guiding me thus far on my journey.”

“Tying what we do in our fields with virtue/character education was very useful. Often we are not given the time, place, and space to reflect upon the ‘bigger picture.’”

“I have learned more than I ever thought I would. Seriously …  I also absolutely love teaching and if online is the new normal, I certainly want to be good at it.”

“I leave this course experience with the valuable benefit of knowing what a top-notch, well-designed online course looks like — and inside our new learning management system, no less! Perhaps this final takeaway is the most beneficial of all.”

Saint Mary’s will continue to offer the Online Instructor Certification courses and the $1,000 stipend for completing the sequence throughout the next fiscal year for both full-time and course-contracted faculty who have been nominated by their deans. The next full set of certification courses will begin on July 26 at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. The courses are offered asynchronously (you can choose how you want to work on them throughout the week) through our new Canvas learning management system and allow instructors to have the experience of being an online student while learning the best practices in online education. Instructors who are interested should contact their dean and/or program director (or chair) for a nomination.