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University System of Maryland Launches an Instructional Design Support Center

USM Faculty can now access an instructional design support center with real-time services for transition to online teaching

BALTIMORE, Aug. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The University System of Maryland (USM) today announced the launch of a new instructional design support service, available this summer and fall to faculty across the USM, designed to provide concierge-level support to help faculty transition to teaching online. The system will tap independent instructional design firm iDesign, which has worked with more than 100 institutions to design, build and support award-winning online courses.

"While the system continues to navigate this unprecedented period of uncertainty, we understand that it's imperative as a system that we put in place resources, tools and scaffolding to help faculty succeed in online teaching, regardless of their experience level," said MJ Bishop, the associate vice chancellor and director of the University System of Maryland's William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. "This support center will help us build surge capacity for faculty, providing them with instructional design support they need to thrive and do their best work in the online environment."

The Instructional Design Support Center (IDSC) is designed to ease the transition to online teaching for faculty and, by extension, improve course quality for students. The center will help meet the diverse needs of faculty—whose course loads, disciplines, and experience-level with online teaching vary widely.

Over the course of the summer and leading into the school year, more than 11,000 faculty across 10 USM campuses will receive access to a hub of resources to support online teaching and course design, templates for use within learning management systems used on campus, and à la carte access to instructional design support services and troubleshooting. The participating campuses that will each receive customized IDSC deployments include: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; University of Maryland, College Park; and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

An April survey found that more than 50 percent of faculty agreed that greater access to digital resources would be most helpful to support online instruction, while nearly half pointed to online resource hubs with information about how to quickly transition to online learning.

"The pandemic has shown just how critical faculty-driven innovation, creativity and leadership continues to be, especially during this moment when our students are facing uncertainty inside —and outside of the classroom," said Whitney Kilgore, Ph.D., co-founder and chief academic officer of iDesign. "The University System of Maryland has been at the forefront of advancing quality and rigor in the delivery of online courses, and this partnership is another example of how the system is helping campuses to better serve students by empowering faculty and responding to their needs."

Through the partnership with iDesign, USM faculty will also gain access to the company's popular Online Teaching Pathway, an immersive course sequence designed to provide faculty with an immediate primer on best practices in remote teaching. Through the short-form courses, faculty and other higher education professionals will be able to access vetted teaching resources, practice examples, and effective techniques used by experienced online instructors. Recently, the USM and member institution University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) formed a $2.6 Million partnership, USM OnTrack, to work with provosts, teaching and learning center directors, instructional designers, technology professors, and others to support and assess expansion of high-quality online learning across the system.

About iDesign:

iDesign partners with colleges and universities to build, grow and support online and blended programs. We are passionate about helping faculty harness the potential of emerging technologies to design courses and degrees that make an impact, whether they are fully online, flipped, blended, adaptive, or competency-based. Our unbundled, fee-for-service model is rooted in a commitment to flexibility and institutional autonomy, while our analytics platform supports continuous improvement through rigorous measurement of student engagement and course quality. From statewide university systems to private colleges, our custom solutions pair instructional design with technologies to enable great teaching. To learn more, please visit www.idesignedu.org.