Creating a space for faculty to access best practices and learn new skills was at the heart of the development of Faculty eCommons – a learning resource portal developed to allow instructors from universities across the globe to improve online education.
Faculty lounges have long been creative spaces for like-minded instructors to share ideas, find inspiration and connect to improve university experiences for both students and faculty. Similarly, Faculty eCommons offers resources including industry research, guidance, best practices, and professional development, all with a focus on national quality standards.
Following are several useful resources Faculty eCommons offers instructors to support them as they develop and refine their online courses and programs.
- How-to guidance. Available for online faculty members from AP-supported programs, the how-to guidance can fit the user's specifications and range from novice to advanced content.
- News and research. Users have instant access to research in online learning innovation from a trusted source on the subject. Content includes research in online learning innovation including open educational resources and information on recent learning technologies.
- Academic Partnership's Grant Program Faculty eCommons is the vehicle through which AP administers its grant process. Since 2012, grants have been awarded annually to faculty partners in an effort to support online learning research. Proposals are accepted once a year and AP awards the winning proposal with a grant ranging from $1,000-$12,000. Today, AP has awarded grants to over 100 faculty members at more than 20 partner universities.
Renovations are currently underway on a new Faculty eCommons. The new site is expected to launch in early 2018 and will offer an improved user experience as well as additional resources to foster collaboration among instructors from different institutions. Based on feedback from AP's Faculty Insight Panel, the new experience will include additional tools and resources uniting instructors for deeper collaboration and information sharing. New features will include:
- A place to share experiences. AP will create custom partner university portals so that documents and resources specific to the partnership can be easily shared and accessed by faculty and Instructional Designers. Faculty will also be able to share their own course examples and successes and use interactive forums and chats to start conversations or ask questions.
- Ongoing professional development. The site will devote a large section to continuing education for faculty. AP partners will be able to access exclusive online courses (self-paced and instructor-led) and webinars on a range of topics pertaining to online learning and instructional design.
- Discipline-specific content. Users will gain access to the site's vast searchable library of documents organized and searchable by topic.