Faculty Development for Peer-Reviewed Digital Teaching Resources to Promote Inclusive Instruction

Faculty Development for Peer-Reviewed Digital Teaching Resources to Promote Inclusive Instruction

Tracie Marcella Addy (Lafayette College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8476-6.ch011


Given the large volume of available digital educational resources and the benefits of using online learning activities, there is a clear need to identify high-quality examples for classroom use that can reach diverse learners. This chapter discusses how faculty developers can partner with instructors on identifying, developing and publishing peer-reviewed digital teaching and learning activities. Research relevant to instructor use of digital materials is presented. Models for how faculty developers can partner with instructors on the design and publication of digital materials is an additional area of focus. Challenges, recommendations, and future areas of research are also described.
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By leveraging the online environment, digital materials can further inclusive instruction and support diverse learners, as well as the instructional needs of faculty. Faculty development can support instructor usage of high-quality digital teaching resources by helping faculty identify, develop and publish such materials for their courses.

As an example of a digital resource with student benefits, e-textbooks are typically accessible with mobile devices, less expensive than print textbooks, and favored by some learners. Shepperd, Grace, and Koch (2008) and Rockinson-Szapkiw, Courduff, Carter, and Bennett (2013a) found that students choosing an electronic textbook performed just as well academically compared to those opting for the physical version of the textbook. The results of such studies suggest that digital textbooks can be useful learning tools. In a subsequent investigation, researchers found that students selecting the e-textbook were more likely to use a variety of cognitive and self-regulation strategies to further their learning, highlighting notable differences between students choosing the different forms of the textbook (Rockinson-Szapkiw, Wendt, & Lunde, 2013b). Variation among learners is also revealed in a study involving students’ use of e-textbooks containing a variety of multimedia components (Dobler, 2015). In Dopler (2015) some students reported more engagement with the e-text, and others found the components of the e-book more distracting. Overall, these outcomes suggest that students have differing experiences when utilizing digital books given their varying preferences and skills, with some learners benefiting from having the option of choosing online textbooks.

The financial cost of course materials is also a significant consideration for inclusive instruction. Integrating Open Educational Resources (OERs) that are available at zero or significantly reduced costs to learners is inclusive of students who have access to the Internet but limited financial means. Indeed, the high cost of books is one underlying reason why students may avoid taking particular classes (Bliss, Hilton III, Wiley, & Thanos, 2013). Of concern is that students who do not purchase the required course materials may be more likely to fall behind in their coursework and be ashamed to seek any existing institutional financial support. Given that knowledge and skill acquisition are typically ultimate goals of instruction, the usage of OERs can positively impact learning in higher education by eliminating the high-cost barriers of course materials, enabling students to engage in their coursework regardless of socioeconomic status. In a multi-institutional study of 16,727 college and community college students, comparing those who were enrolled in courses with OER and those who were not, learners in the OER course had the same level or better completion of the course, and a final grade of C- or above suggesting that the affordability of digital course materials can have a positive impact on learning (Fischer, Hilton, Robinson, & Wiley, 2015).

The usage of digital materials also has the potential to maximize the learning experiences of Generation Z students, born between 1995 and 2010. Many Gen-Zers reportedly do not want to learn purely through an online environment and prefer a mixture of face-to-face and digital instruction (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018). The high usage of YouTube for educational purposes by many students of this generation also suggests that digital media is an important item within many of their learning toolkits. Using digital educational resources in combination with active learning approaches may, therefore, especially reach some learners within Generation Z.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inclusive Instruction: Teaching that intentionally fosters equitable learning experiences for diverse students.

Backward Design: The process of designing a curriculum, lesson or course by first specifying learning objectives and then developing activities and assignments that align with such objectives.

Digital Teaching and Learning Materials: Educational materials used for teaching and learning purposes that are developed and used online and/or housed on online databases.

Faculty Learning Community: A group of faculty who regularly meet and engage in a specific interest area or as part of a cohort.

Peer Review: A process by which experts evaluate and give a recommendation about the quality of scholarly work for publication.

Assignment Charrette: An event where faculty refine teaching materials using an informal peer review process.

Instructional Technologist: A professional who works within an instructional technology unit to support the technology needs of an institution as related to teaching and learning.

Educational Databases: Repositories of educational materials for use by instructors.

Instructional Librarian: A professional that works within a library to support the needs of instruction for an institution.

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