Faculty Development Centers for Digital Teaching and Learning: Implementation of Institutional Strategy and Infrastructure

Faculty Development Centers for Digital Teaching and Learning: Implementation of Institutional Strategy and Infrastructure

Alev Elçi (Aksaray University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8476-6.ch021
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Abstract

This chapter identifies and assesses the role of faculty professional development centers in the future higher education institutions. Faculty professional development centers facilitate transition to digital teaching and learning; this can be affected only through implementing strategies and commensurate infrastructure. They thus provide desired digital knowledge, skill sets, and related competencies for the “next generation of learners.” Implementations in Turkey are surveyed and compared to the international scene. Conclusions are drawn on essential features that may be further enhanced for bettering faculty development facilities primarily in the context of universities in Turkey, and extensions to the international scene.
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Introduction

In the digital age, higher education institutions have the responsibility to prepare qualified and high-quality humans equipped with digital competencies. Their aim is to graduate students as professionals having the digital knowledge and skill sets to cope with the changing times, benefiting from existing and emerging technologies, as well as implementing technological innovations effectively. To empower the students with required skills and competencies, the use of computers and the Internet are essential during the entire digital teaching and learning process starting from designing the learning spaces, to development of educational materials, and a provision for sustainability. Within this entire process, faculty members play an important role. Consequently, accelerating professional development and proficiency of faculty for digital teaching and learning in harmony with the institutional and academic structures, are gaining importance. Higher education institutions must have a stake in preparing faculty for this development process.

Many institutions organize faculty development programs around faculty development centers, with varied names, for equipping faculty for teaching excellence. Thus, institutional strategies and infrastructure for faculty professional development in the areas of teaching and learning and the use of new innovative technologies are gaining importance. The Faculty Development Center Matrix created by the American Council on Education (2017) is based strategically on four dimensions (Haras, Taylor, Sorcinelli, & Hoene, 2017). These dimensions organize center accomplishments and institutional commitments to the faculty professional development efforts as: organizational structure, center location, resource allocation and infrastructure, and programs and services. In another approach, Cilliers and Tekian (2016) referred to three key considerations and actions for an effective faculty development program in an institutional context: interventions, participants and implementations. In order to realize a successful transformation, the necessity of commitment by administration to provide the resources, infrastructure and personnel to work in conjunction with instructors is emphasized (Yalçın Tepe & Adıgüzel, 2017; Lancaster, Stein, MacLean, Van Amburgh, & Persky, 2014).

Recently in Turkey, there has been a rapid increase in the number of higher education institutions. According to the Higher Education Council (HEC) statistics (YÖK, 2018), in the 2017-2018 academic year there are 129 state (public) universities, 72 foundation (private) universities and 5 foundation vocational schools that add up to a total of 206 higher education institutions. There are 77,594 faculty members included in an overall total teaching staff of 160,756. In conjunction with the increasing number of universities, the student enrollments were also raised. The current number of students studying in the Turkish higher education system is 7,764,729. An additional 122,000 international students from different countries are also studying in Turkey. Nearly 56,000 of the total number of students are enrolled in online education programs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Faculty: Higher education faculty members who has teaching and research responsibilities.

Faculty Development: Professional development of the faculty members and administrators who deal directly with students specifically in higher education.

Digital Teaching and Learning: Digital learning is any type of learning that is accompanied by technology or by instructional practice that makes effective use of technology giving students the opportunity to control the time, place, method and speed of their learning.

Institutional Infrastructure: Institutional infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of an institution, consisting of core components organizational structure, built infrastructure, digital artifacts, and people.

Institutional Strategy: Institutional strategy describe the patterns of organizational action that are directed toward managing the institutional structures within which companies compete for resources, either through the reproduction or transformation of those structures.

Faculty Development Center: Higher educational unit established to support teaching and implementation of academic innovations using technology, essentially providing support, resources, and services enabling faculty to reach excellence, integration, and satisfaction in teaching and learning, scholarship, and service during their career lifespan.

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