Teach the Teacher: Wake Tech Offers Innovative Training for Online Educators

October 6th, 2016





RALEIGH, N.C. (October 6, 2016) - How do you squeeze college classes into an already-busy life? For a growing number of students, online education is the perfect answer. But online classes pose challenges, too – and not just for students. Instructors need to master certain skills and instructional tools to transition successfully from the classroom to the online environment. 

Wake Tech has developed a new training and certification program to help college and university professors do just that. The EPIC 30 Online Teaching Certificate program addresses online course design, instructional techniques, communication tools, and accessibility. It was developed in 2015 by Wake Tech faculty, staff and administrators and will be available to the public in November of 2016. 

“Improving online education is a priority for us,” said Wake Tech President Dr. Stephen Scott, “because we know how important it is for today’s – and tomorrow’s – students. We want to make sure we’re offering online options that meet our standards for quality.” 

EPIC 30 is part of a larger initiative Wake Tech launched in 2015 to improve student success in online classes. Nationwide statistics show that while the number of online college students is on the rise, they are less successful than those in traditional seated classes. To narrow that gap, the college developed EPIC – eLearning Preparedness Initiative Across the College – EPIC includes a mandatory orientation to online learning for all first-time students, and a mandatory Online Teaching Certificate for all online faculty. Wake Tech faculty can receive their Online Teaching Certificate by taking the EPIC 30 curriculum, or by having one of their online courses reviewed by a team of three Peer Reviewers. Few colleges or universities in the country have such rigorous and mandatory requirements for online students or faculty. 

“We’re intentionally setting the bar high,” said Carrie Bartek, Wake Tech’s Dean of College Initiatives and Assessment, “and we know faculty will rise to the challenge. Everyone is committed to improving online learning.”

EPIC 30 is now being offered to faculty at other colleges and universities through Wake Tech’s Workforce Continuing Education Division. For the price of a conference registration fee, this self-paced online course includes 30 hours of instruction that can be completed from the office or home and results in an Online Teaching Certificate and 3 CEUs. The $600 fee includes a course facilitator and all course materials. Interested faculty can register at http://bitly.com/waketechepic30

Abbie Brown, Professor of Instructional Technology at East Carolina University, said this in his evaluation of the EPIC 30 curriculum. “Overall, the EPIC 30 [curriculum] reflects best practices in design and delivery of asynchronous, online instruction. The [curriculum is] commendable: [it] represents efficient and effective presentation of content; the assessment activities support the learning objectives; and the content arrangement is appropriate in terms of sequence, lesson structure. Based on my knowledge of similar professional development efforts at higher education institutions, the EPIC30 [curriculum] represents a relatively rigorous professional development sequence. In my opinion, successful completion of the EPIC30 sequence should provide a strong foundation for effective online teaching to any motivated faculty member.” 

At Wake Tech, more than 15,000 students take at least one online course each year – more than any other North Carolina community college. More than 6,300 students are take online classes exclusively -- twice as many as six years ago. Three hundred seventy-six faculty members teach online classes at Wake Tech, and 113 of them have already earned their Online Teaching Certificate so far. Others are in the process. The college has mandated certification for all online faculty by the fall 2017 semester.

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