OLT Conference Department Meetings

This article offers suggestions and templates for planning the department meeting segment of the Online Learning and Teaching conference hosted at BYU-Idaho each year.

Resources


Timeline


As soon as conference planning meetings start

1. Make a list of departments and their chairs, and figure out how to handle exception cases

This article lists the department chairs and which college they belong to (look at the bottom of each chart). This is a good time to figure out where some exception courses go and who has responsibility over them. Such cases include Foundations, Pathway (especially courses that have a pathway version and a campus version), FHGEN, Library, and other courses that don't have traditional departments. 

Make sure to reach out to the Online Associate Dean over Foundations to get a list of specific courses he or she oversees and discuss where their instructors should go during this time (to a foundations meeting, to subject-matter departments, or elsewhere).

What Pathway and Foundations have done previously

Pathway sometimes does one big meeting and sometimes they split into their respective courses. Either way, we usually help them find a room and speakers.

Foundations often (but not always) separates into specific groups—we recommend contacting the OAD over foundations to discuss possibilities for the meeting as well as where each foundations course belongs. Make sure to ask which foundations courses they want to meet with, and which ones they want to send to their subject-matter departments (ex: FDENG sometimes goes to the English department, but sometimes they stay with Foundations) make sure you touch base with those departments as well.

You will also want to see how both groups would like to handle courses that have Pathway and Campus iterations—sometimes they like to handle them separately, and sometimes they like to combine those courses with the Pathway meeting.

2. Reach out to departments and get the conference on their radar

This should be done as early as possible, even if it's just to announce the dates and remind them of the traditional department meeting portion. 

We recommend also reaching out to Online Associate Deans at this time. They will be your advocate with departments, serving a critical role in working with unresponsive chairs or departments who don't want to host their instructors.

3. Work with the conference Communications team to adjust the registration form

Depending on how Pathway, Foundations, and other exception courses are going to be handled, you likely need to adjust the information instructors put on the registration form. If you need to know what specific course an instructor teaches, make sure to ask it. If you just need to know departments, make sure it's a specific list they can choose from (and provide a guide if they aren't sure what to put).

Once registration closes

1. Gather and sort the list of registered instructors

Once registration has closed, get the list of registered online instructors from the conference committee logistics team, then sort the instructors into their respective departments (or meetings).

Not sure about some instructors?

Work with Employment and Scheduling to figure out where any unknown instructors might go by looking up the course they teach.

2. Prepare a Google Form to track department chair responses

Make sure to ask if they'd like to host instructors, what room their meeting will be in, and what time it will be. It's a good idea to also include a section where they can leave notes. You can see a previous version here.

3. Email department chairs and ask for a commitment

We use an email template, like the one below.

Dear [DEPARTMENT CHAIR],
 
This [MONTH], BYU-Idaho will be hosting [#] instructors from the [DEPARTMENT NAME] department at the Online Learning and Teaching Conference on campus. Online Instructors are traditionally invited to attend their department meeting on the Thursday afternoon of Conference ([DATE]). This is a great opportunity to build connections and interact with online instructors in a face-to-face setting, and we’d love to have your department participate.
 
Please fill out the survey below to let us know if you are willing to host the [#] registered instructors in your department meeting on Thursday, [DATE]. The survey should take less than two minutes to complete.
 
Fill Out the Form (<2 minutes)
 
 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
What time will the instructors be coming to my department?
We have planned for instructors to be in department meetings from 2:00 to about 3:30 pm on Thursday, [DATE]. While some departments may choose to host their instructors for more or less time, there is no obligation to do so.
 
What if that time doesn’t work for my department?
Feel free to let us know what does work. While the conference does have a full day scheduled, we’re willing to discuss possible alternatives with you.
 
Can I do something other than a department meeting?
Yes! In fact, this is a great opportunity to gather instructor feedback and insight about your online courses, in lieu of hosting a regular meeting. Ssome departments have used the opportunity to host a light social, while others set up meetings between online instructors and course leads, do panel discussions, or discuss course improvements. All of the options have historically left both on-campus faculty and online instructors feeling like the time connecting with their colleagues was rewarding and valuable.
 
We are thankful for your department’s involvement in the online program, and look forward to fostering relationships between online instructors and your department this summer. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns.
 
Thank you,
 
[CONFERENCE CHAIR NAME]
Online Learning and Teaching Conference Chair

4. Gather student employee volunteers

We always have student employees (usually from the Course Support team) escort the online instructors from lunch to their respective department meetings. The number of students you need will depend on how many meetings there will be, what building they're in, and how many instructors you have attending for each.

Student employee volunteers should be able to meet 20-30 minutes before lunch ends (in case it finishes early) and can leave once they drop the instructors off at their meetings (10-15 minutes after lunch ends).

One week after registration closes

1. Follow up with chairs who didn't respond

A week or two after sending the commitment email, reach out to department chairs who didn't respond and try to get a commitment and info from them. This can be done via email or phone call (or a combination). We have done both, and find them to yield roughly the same results. You'll need to keep doing this probably right up until the conference starts. Bring in an Online Associate Dean to help if you are really struggling to hear back from a department chair.

2. Work out special arrangements

Sometimes departments will opt to do lunch with their instructors or plan on individual meetings with each attending online instructor. We try and be as accomodating as possible to these requests, and usually allow the department to work directly with their instructors in these cases, so long as we know the plan.

3-4 weeks before conference

1. Check for cancelled registrants

Work with the logistics team to gather a list of cancelled registrants, then adjust your instructor counts accordingly. You may need to reach out to some departments (like those who only had a few registered instructors) to let them know when someone cancels. This can be combined with the final reminder email.

2. Gather and send out instructor information

A month or so before the conference starts, we like to give departments an idea of who to expect in their department meetings so they can be the best hosts possible. This could be as simple as providing names and courses for registered instructors, or as in-depth as making short bios for each instructor (pulling profile information from the Community).

Before doing this, make sure to get a list of cancelled registrants from the logistics committee and pull those instructors out of your counts. 

Sample Simple Instructor Information Email

Hi [DEPARTMENT CHAIR],

Thank you for hosting online instructors at your department meeting on [DATE]! We appreciate your efforts to foster connections and relationships with remote adjunct faculty. As the Online Learning and Teaching Conference nears, we wanted to give you a breakdown of who you can expect to join your meeting. Registered instructors are listed below, with contact information in case you need to reach them prior to your meeting:

Name Email Primary Course
John Doe
DoeJ@byui.edu
ACCT 201

Please keep in mind that this list may be subject to change (registrant cancellations, instructors teaching for other departments, etc).

We will escort the online instructors to your meeting right around 2:00 pm the day of, unless you have made prior arrangements with us. ****OPTIONAL SECTION---->As of right now, we don’t have a room listed for your meeting; please let me know as soon as you have a room reserved so we can take instructors to the right place.*** Thank you again for participating in the Online Learning and Teaching Conference! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

[NAME]

Sample Instructor Bio Email

Dear [NAME],

On behalf of the Online Learning and Teaching Conference, thank you for agreeing to host visiting online instructors in your department meeting this coming Thursday, [DATE]. Registration for the conference is now closed, and we are expecting [#] online instructors to visit your department. This number may vary if instructors who teach multiple online courses choose to attend other department meetings. You will find names, pictures, and bios of attending instructors for your department attached (some instructors in attendance may not be on this document if information was not available).

If your department is setting up individual meetings between online instructors and on-campus faculty, please plan on making arrangements directly with the visiting online instructors—feel free to reach out if you need contact information.

As always, give me a call or shoot me an email if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you again for all that you do!

Thanks!

[NAME]

One week before conference

1. Check for cancelled registrants

Again, work with the logistics team to gather a list of cancelled registrants, then adjust your instructor counts accordingly. You may need to reach out to some departments (like those who only had a few registered instructors) to let them know when someone cancels. This can be combined with the final reminder email.

2. Send a final reminder email

This is short and sweet and just serves as a quick reminder of instructors who are coming to the conference. This can be combined with the instructor information email sent previously, if you'd like.

Dear [NAME],

With the OLT conference just a week away, we wanted to thank you again for hosting online instructors from your department in your meeting next Thursday [DATE].  We know that the online instructors are looking forward to meeting with you, and we want to do everything we can to make this a great experience for both them and you. As such, please let me know if you have any questions or if you need anything from the conference committee.

****OPTIONAL CANCELLATION INFORMATION--->I also wanted to let you know that we have, unfortunately, had a last minute cancellation from your department: [NAME] will no longer be attending the conference. Since the other instructor from your department, [NAME], teaches both for your department and for General Studies, we are not sure which department meeting he will choose to attend, so I wanted you to be aware of [NAME'S] cancellation.

Thanks again,

[NAME]

3. Print student employee signs

Print signs for those departments who have instructors attending, and write the meeting location and expected number of instructors on the back of each. This helps the student employees know where to go and how many instructors they need to gather before leaving.

Simple signs were made by the 2017 Conference Communications team—specifically, by a student named Chris Howe. Contact that team to see if we still have access to the files. If not, you'll need to make new ones.

4. Remind student volunteers about their duties

Make sure to tell them where and when to meet (20-30 minutes prior to lunch ending, outside the venue). You'll probably want to do this several times over the week prior to conference.

5. (Optional) Print table-top meeting charts

If you'd like, you can print two dozen or so charts showing the various meetings and then put them on each table at lunch. Include the departments (and any special courses), as well as the meeting time and location. See a previous version here.

During Conference: Department Meeting Day

1. 30 minutes prior to lunch ending, prepare student employees

Distribute the department signs and have them line up in alphabetical order outside of the lunch venue. You will make an announcement at the end of lunch, which is their cue to file quietly into the lunch venue and line up around the room, holding their signs high. Make sure to tell them to leave enough space for instructors to congregate around them.

2. Make an announcement after lunch

While the student volunteers file in, let instructors know what to expect and make special announcements (such as any departments who won't have meetings to attend).

Make sure to announce specifically (by course) where foundations, pathway, and any other tricky courses  will go. Many instructors don't know that they teach foundations courses, and so they will go to their subject-matter meeting instead of their foundations meeting (if there is one), so it's a good idea to list any of the trickier courses and where they belong.

Sample Announcement Script

The students around the room are each holding a sign in alphabetical order so you can find your guide to your department meetings. For the most part, your department should be clear, however, there are a few special cases:

  • All Pathway courses will meet together upstairs

  • Most foundations courses are meeting with their associated department, with the following exceptions:

    • If you teach American Foundations, FDHUM 110, FDWLD 201, or FDINT 211, you will all meet together; look for the sign that says FDAMF (ask student to raise their sign)

    • FDSCI, you will all be meeting together, and your sign says FDSCI

  • Unfortunately, there are a few departments who are not having a meeting today. These include CIT, Economics, Sociology and Social Work, and Library. Chemistry, you do have a meeting, but it will be at 3:30 pm. Now, If you don’t have a meeting to attend, we are running a tour of the BYU-I Center at 2 pm. Please meet at BYU-I center by 2 pm--so right after this meeting.

  • After everyone is done with Department Meetings, right around 3:30pm we have several great activities going on [LIST ACTIVITIES]


3. Stick around to help lost instructors find their meetings

It's a good idea to have a list of departments and their locations on you, so  you can instruct any stragglers on where to go.


About this article

Responsible: OLT Conference Committee
Accountable: OLT Conference Committee Chair
Consulted: N/A
Informed: OLT Conference Committee

Sharing: Restricted (Online Only)

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