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Center for Teaching Excellence

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Carolina Online Learning and Teaching: Promoting Professional Development and Better Teaching

By Kira Norwood,

Looking for a program that expands your knowledge in the realm of online learning and teaching, while also having the opportunity to network with other scholars? The Center for Teaching Excellence’s Carolina Online Learning and Teaching (COLT) Certificate of Completion program is designed to provide faculty with the foundations for teaching either in online, blended or hybrid formats. COLT help builds faculty members’ capacity in areas of pedagogy, course design, course development, teaching, and online course administration.

The beginnings of the COLT program started in March of 2019 and developed in partnership with the Office of Distributed Learning, College of Education, and DoIT’s e-Learning Services. A subcommittee planning group researched UofSC’s peer and peer-aspirant universities and how these institutions prepared faculty for teaching in a distributed format. Lydia Frass, senior instructional designer, and Mary Hahn, a doctoral student at the time and now an instructional developer with CTE, then organized faculty focus groups from UofSC Columbia and Palmetto College and conducted a literature search for online teaching competencies. 

Expert online instructors were asked to provide input and to determine if there was a need for this type of program—and, if so, what should it look like. “We got input and feedback from various faculty around the university,” said Aisha Haynes, assistant director of CTE.  “We had focus groups that discussed COLT and it blossomed from there.”  Frass added, “What we got out of the faculty focus groups was the need for flexibility, a capstone project, and support from an instructional designer.” The feedback from the focus groups, information on what UofSC’s peers were doing, and knowledge of online teaching competencies was then used to guide the development of the COLT program.

Launched on June 1, 2020, COLT is open to those who teach at UofSC-Columbia or Palmetto College regional campuses. Participants complete five self-paced micro-courses and a capstone project micro-course in a cohort-based model. “There are many faculty members who have never taught online, either hybrid or blended, so I think it would help them to learn principles about teaching online. It’s a good foundation especially if you are new to the online learning world,” said Haynes.

Fostering connections is another important aspect of the program. “Built around this program is a learning community for distributed learning,” Frass said. “We want to create opportunities for participants to have online discussions and virtual meetings with each other and experts from around campus. The goal is to have cohort members meet other faculty members who are going through the same experiences and to have people they can possibly reach out to after they complete COLT.” With each participant having varying degrees of knowledge in online learning, this creates the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from one another as they create highly engaging learning experiences for their students.

Spring 2021 Cohort  

Program Dates:  Monday, February 1 – Friday, April 30, 2021


Application Deadline:  Friday, January 15, 2021

Carolina Online Teaching & Learning Certificate Online Application


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