By: Don Kelly, Program Chair for Human Resources
One of the strengths of Post University’s Business School programs is the experiences that its associate faculty members bring to the classroom, both virtual and in-person. This knowledge is now being brought to the course design process, as well, with many associate faculty members working as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), ensuring that their real-world experiences are reflected in each course.
One such SME is Andy Privitera, an associate faculty member at Post for over 7 years. Andy teaches courses for our degree programs in Management and in Human Resources and has helped to design a number of courses in both areas over the past several years. He holds an MBA in Human Resources as well as a BS in Marketing Management. He currently owns and operates his own business in upstate New York after retiring as a Sergeant Major from the U.S. Army where he was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the White House Presidential Volunteer Award among many other distinctions during his Army career.
Andy recently spoke with Don Kelly, Program Chair for Human Resources, where he asked him to share his experience as a Subject Matter Expert and Course Developer here at Post.
Q1: Andy, in your time here at Post, what are some of the courses you have been involved in developing?
Andy: Over the past several years, I’ve worked on designing several new courses such as Managing a Diverse Workforce and Employment Law while helping to redesign courses such as Managing a Growing Business.
Q2: Walk us briefly through the process of course development from the standpoint as the Subject Matter Expert. How does it work?
Andy: The process begins with the Program Chair and the Instructional Design department developing a “design schedule” of courses to be worked on throughout the academic year. Within that scheduled timeline, the Program Chair issues the invitation to the SME to develop or redevelop a particular course. A “course development contract” is created that spells out the work to be done and the intended timeline and scope.
The process starts off with a kickoff meeting involving members of the course development team; an instructional designer dedicated to this course, the instructional design librarian and/or content coordinator [to research appropriate material], myself as the SME and the Program Chair. This meeting sets the stage regarding the scope and direction of the 10-week development process.
From this meeting, a Design Roadmap is created detailing the tasks and timeline of each piece of the process. This detailing is the key document the entire team uses to track progress and communicate developments.
All design activity is managed through an application called Samepage. This interactive document management system allows for team meetings, messaging, project management, and documentation handling. It is a straightforward system to learn and ideally suited for this design work. The Instructional Design team is great about helping new SMEs learn to use the system. The design process follows an agreed-upon schedule with regular reviews and checkpoints over a twelve a week design period.
The process ends with a final review after the course has been loaded into a Blackboard shell and sign-off then occurs by the instructional design team and the Program Chair.
Q3: What would you say is one of the most challenging parts of developing or redesigning a course?
Andy: For me, it’s the initial planning and the development of the course. Roadmap. This is where all members of the team and the Program Chair work out the why, wh.at, how, and when of the course development. Making sure all the details are discussed, changes in direction or content investigated and included, and areas of improvement addressed completely. The better this phase goes, the easier the rest of the design process goes. Course development or redesign is a collaborative process, bringing together a team to assist the SME in bringing home the best final product. As an SME, it is comforting to know I have people dedicated to this process to work with me.
In my initial course design project, I was concerned about the amount of work and the timeline. I find that the amount of actual work to be done is equivalent to teaching an online course, not more. I also find that the Roadmap I mentioned makes hitting the project points easy, especially with the help of the design team members.
Q4: Talk to us, if you will about some of the rewarding parts of developing the course.
Andy: One of the most rewarding parts of this process is the feeling of being a contributor to the work of the University. I know the courses I am working on will be an important part of the curriculum in helping people understand parts of their future work life. It’s bringing a part of my experience to life for our students
Another rewarding part is working with the Post design team. Course development or redesign is a collaborative process, bringing together a team to assist the SME in bringing home the best final product. As an SME, it is comforting to know I have people dedicated to this process to work with me . It’s fun to
collaborate with others at Post! Lastly, one of the most rewarding aspects of the process is launching and teaching the Lastly, one of the most rewarding aspects of the process is launching and teaching the new course, seeing how the students react to it, and having a sense of accomplishment when things work well. SMEs typically go on to teach the courses they design to get that first-hand experience.
Q5: What advice might you have for other associate faculty who are thinking about participating in course development here at Post?
Andy: Don’t be overly concerned about the process. The support is there to guide even the first time SME into doing a good job. The collaboration among the instructional design and support staff along with assistance from the Program Chair will make the effort manageable for even the novice.
A major advantage of doing this is that you become even more deeply involved with Post and committed to the mission of the University.
Once you do this, you’ll find you want to do it over again. It provides a broader view of Post’s courses and how they are crafted and how they happen within Blackboard. I would highly encourage anyone to participate in this if given the opportunity. It’s definitely worth it.