Instructors sharpen online teaching skills in new certificate program

IDOL program director Sheri Stover

Sheri Stover, director of the Instructional Design for Online Learning program, provides instruction during a recent class.

Early online courses were limited to plain, text-based lessons or recorded lectures from a teacher with no opportunity for interaction, live discussion or instantaneous feedback.

Anyone who’s taken an online course offered through the Wright State University College of Education and Human Services knows that those days are long gone.

The college’s nationally ranked online Master of Education degree program is helping teachers, professors and online course developers create dynamic classes through its new Instructional Design for Online Learning (IDOL) certificate program.

The first cohort of 12 students in the graduate-level program completed the four required courses this summer.

Enrollment in the program, which started in the fall, has quickly grown, said Sheri Stover, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the IDOL program. Six students took the program’s classes when they were first offered, while 25 enrolled in classes this summer.

Because of the program’s success, CEHS faculty are developing a second IDOL program with more advanced courses.

The IDOL program, offered by the Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations, is another example of how Wright State is a national leader in online education programs.

The university’s online Master of Education degree in Curriculum & Instruction was ranked No. 15 in the nation among online graduate education programs and No. 1 in faculty credentials and training by U.S. News & World Report.

The program was developed by Susan Berg, Ph.D., former assistant professor; Marguerite Veres, senior lecturer; and Stover. It is also included as part of two new degrees: the Ed.D. in Organizational Studies and the M.Ed. in Educational Technology for Health Professional, which is offered by the Department of Leadership Studies in partnership with the Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine.

The IDOL program is designed for college faculty, K–12 teachers and corporate trainers to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective instructors or course developers for online or blended-learning classes.

Stover said that K–12 teachers are interested in adding online components to their classes; college professors want both to stay current with teaching tools and keep up with their students; and corporate trainers are interested in developing new skills and knowledge to help them move up in their organizations.

The program includes four courses: Analysis of Teaching, Instructional Design, Making Online Courses Interactive, and Learning Management Systems and Evaluation.

Classes meet weekly and synchronously online through Blackboard. The classes are also recorded and archived online so students can rewatch lessons.

Students learn how to create videos, tests and class lessons, and master different learning management systems. But the program goes beyond introducing students to new technologies, Stover said. Students also learn how to teach effectively online and how people learn online.

Discussions are interactive because Stover and her students use their computers’ cameras and microphones. The technology and interactive nature of the classes help students feel present and part of a group, Stover said. Students often work in groups in class and receive constant feedback on their work from both their classmates and Stover.

“It’s a safe and nurturing environment where you get lots and lots of feedback,” Stover said. She said that her students tell her the online classes are “better than being in a face-to-face class.”

Daina Levine, who received an M.Ed. in technology in education from Wright State and participated in the IDOL program, said the interactive nature of the IDOL program is one of its strengths. “Many times we actually had more interaction with each other than in traditional classes,” she said.

As an instructional design/media specialist at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Levine regularly uses the skills and lessons she learned during the IDOL program. Her job consists of researching new educational technology and training faculty to teach effectively online.

“The IDOL classes helped me identify best practices and what will work best for our faculty and students,” Levine said.

Chris Cline, Ed.D., an instructor at Wright State, signed up for the program to improve his online-teaching skills. In the last four years, he said, he has moved his classes exclusively online.

Through the IDOL program, he learned to create randomized quizzes and make his courses interactive, personal and friendly.

“I would not have even thought to attempt any of this without the IDOL program,” said Cline, who is a retired public school superintendent. “I want to be a good online instructor and this is the direction I needed to take.”

Learn more

More information on the Instructional Design for Online Learning certificate program is available by contacting Sheri Stover at (937) 775-3008 or, or by visiting the IDOL website.

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