2014 AT&T Faculty – Staff Award Competition in Instructional Technology - Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: Fully Online Course Award

VM810 Introduction to Food Safety and Professional Management won the honorable mention in the 2014 AT&T Faculty – Staff Award Competition in Instructional Technology.

Formerly a blended course, VM 810 made the transition to fully online in 2013. Concerned with losing the in-person connection to students, the development team set to work brainstorming ways to develop a course that included virtual connections to the tangible campus and provided support for students who may need more help to succeed in a fully online environment.

Technology and content support

The course has a consistent and careful structure, which is important for new students in general, and especially new students who are also new to online learning. Regular patterns are reinforced throughout the class, and each module consists of three content components of two types: the MSU Toolbox component with content focusing on MSU technologies and policies, and the core course content which is found in the Hot Topics and in the Food Safety Leadership components.

The MSU Toolbox helps students navigate the online systems at MSU. It provides resources that diagnose the readiness of students’ computer configurations, tips for using the Desire2Learn learning management system, instructions to join the class Facebook group, and more. The MSU Toolbox section of each module is where students learn about how and what it means to be successful in online learning at Michigan State University.

The MSU Toolbox also includes virtual academic orientation modules covering university and program policies which are presented with Adobe Presenter lectures. Student understanding of these policies is tested along with their knowledge on topics such as academic performance, course planning, and requirements for graduation to ensure that each student knows what is expected of them as they proceed through the program. Adobe Presenter lectures are also the predominant technology used for delivery of the core course content in the Hot Topics and Leadership sections.

Creating connections

Connections are created not only between students, program staff, core faculty and administrators, but between the virtual and tangible campus as well. Through the use of videos and tutorials, self-portraits, Facebook conversations, discussion forums, and real-time online office hours held in Adobe Connect, social and academic connections were forged at the course, program, and university level. For example, bonus points were awarded to students at different points in the course for singing the MSU fight song, or for submitting a question to the director of the Food Safety program.