The Value of Open-Web Faculty Websites
+Dean Patti Flanigan , Dean of Online Learning, and +Kathryn Damm , Professor of Psychology, both from Saddleback College spent some time discussing the values of open-web faculty websites. “Open-web” differs from content pages that faculty create and post inside an LMS. Content stored in an LMS requires students to have a password to access or at the very least (in the case of a course that is set to “guest access”) requires a particular set of skills be understand how to locate the information. Open-web faculty websites are simple links that become most valuable when they are woven into the fabric of the student enrollment experience. Increasing student access to instructors and courses before registration occurs, improves student preparedness and satisfaction, especially in a social, web 2.0 world where most students rely on anonymous Rate My Professor reviews anyway.
Weaving Faculty Websites into the Student Experience
To demonstrate this, Patti and Kathy discussed the faculty profile system developed at Saddleback which provides a basic webpage to each and every faculty member. This basic page is linked directly into the online class listings. As a student is scanning for classes, she simply may click the link to learn more about that profess. Now what is on that page certainly varies but, as Kathy demonstrates in the video, a faculty member may choose to include a link on the profile page to his own personal website (which may be institutionally hosted or not). Kathy, for example, developed her website using Google Sites. What’s important is that the site be accessible to everyone — students (remember, videos must be captioned) and the instructor (there should be no barriers to making edits to one’s webpage).
A Strategy for Improving Student Success?
Patti reflected on the higher than average online retention and success rates that Saddleback College has, which, to me, is admirable. While statistically there is no way to validate a causation between the faculty websites and the higher rates, I am certain I could find a steady flow of online faculty who do not have this type of fabulous support system that would argue there is a correlation. When classes are in short supply — as we know they are at California Community Colleges — doesn’t it make sense to allow a learner to understand the personality of the instructor (through a video on a website), the requirements of the class, and other essentials before registering? Time and time again, I see students drop my own class upon gaining access to the course materials. Replicating this Saddleback model, which includes supporting faculty with both a place to link a website within the class registration system and an institutionally provided webpage that may be augmented by a faculty member with an external website link, and researching its impact on student success seems like a worthy experiment
In the second half of the Hangout, you will see me demo how to create your own beautiful faculty website using a brand new tool called Populr.me. Here is a link to my own faculty site created with Populr.me. The video will show you how to make one just like it!
Sign up for your free Populr.me PRO educator account here: http://populr.me/coupons/poppinteacher