Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Impact of Online Teaching Upon Campus Teaching

Some months ago, with help from Camille Funk and Patty Dinneen of the Teaching & Learning Collaborative, I surveyed faculty from George Washington University who had worked with instructional designers to develop and teach online courses during the summer over the last 15 years. Our research question: had this experience influenced their subsequent teaching on campus. In a word: it did.

Faculty who had been through the program once were influenced in many dimensions of their teaching.  For example these kinds of changes in campus teaching were reported by at least half of the respondents:

  • My syllabus, instructions and directions for students are more clear and complete.
  • Development tools I learned about for summer I now sometimes use for my campus course materials.
  • I've re-used or adapted materials from my online course.
  • I use images, animations or video.
  • I've started designing a campus course or assignment by first figuring out what students should be able to do as a result.
  • I assign online discussion among my students.
Faculty who had participated two or more times were influenced much more.

I've heard anecdotal reports of such influence for years but we got a 53% response rate. Of those respondents, 85% reported influence on their campus teaching in at least one dimension.

Here's my full report and the survey that was sent to faculty.  Feel free to use or adapt the survey; if you're doing so, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know (ehrmannsteve at

Note: One reason this program of developing summer courses has lasted 15 years, attracting both faculty participation and GW resources to support them, was that teaching online summer courses made money for both the university and for the participating faculty. As faculty interest in developing summer courses increased, GW had the incentive to hire more instructional designers to help them.  In effect, improving teaching on campus was being rewarded (via the intervening step of improving teaching, and increasing revenue, online).  That fact suggests a policy I'll describe in my next post.

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