Faculty Spotlight on Instructional Design: Genevieve Hollis, School of Nursing

Person in lab-coat sitting a computer.

The following interview is with a faculty member who received instructional design assistance from Courseware Support. If you would like instructional design assistance, please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Genevieve Hollis

Genevieve Hollis

Genevieve Hollis (MSN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AOCN) is an Advanced Senior Lecturer-B in the Adult Oncology Specialty Minor/Post-Master’s Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, as well as a Nurse Practitioner at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. She is the Associate Course Director for Advanced Practice Nursing For Oncology Care (NURS 664). Professor Hollis participated in this interview on behalf of her and Professor Amy Moore (MSN, RN, ACNS-BC), Course Director for NURS 664, who also partook in the instructional design experience.

What prompted you to seek help from instructional designers? How were you connected with an instructional design team?

In Spring 2013, the Adult Oncology Specialty Minor/Post-Master’s Program decided to move the majority of its coursework online. Professor Hollis explains that the decision was due both to the varied focuses of students in this program, as well as the unique complexity of oncology-care education, saying that “oncology care is increasingly team-based and requires strong and knowledgeable partnerships between primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialized oncology, home care, and hospice providers.”

Seizing the opportunity to teach online, the NURS 664 faculty engaged in an intensive content-development period for a Fall 2013 course launch. While these faculty were devoted to developing a high-quality online learning experience, time constraints and limited experience with the technologies that were to be used proved challenging.

Consequently, Professor Hollis notes, “students evaluations were markedly lower than when the course was offered solely on campus.” This experience and the School of Nursing’s interest in expanding its online course offerings led to the formation of an online-teaching task force. The outcomes from this task force included the redesign of NURS 664 and the use of this redesign process as a real-time opportunity “to identify steps involved and resources needed to roll out online courses on a larger scale.” To achieve this end, the NURS 664 faculty were paired with instructional designers from Courseware Support at the Penn Libraries.

What were you hoping to get out of the instructional design process?

Motivated to make the most of revamping their course, Professor Hollis says the NURS 664 faculty sought the following from the instructional design process:

  • “An overall, more polished, high quality course format that promoted student engagement, learning, and satisfaction
  • A structured, efficient process for enhancing faculty command of online pedagogy
  • A structured, efficient process for exploring online teaching strategies/technologies that matched course objectives
  • Increased faculty comfort with managing and trouble-shooting online teaching technologies
  • Increased students comfort with online learning and their ability to trouble-shoot technology
  • Help establishing a framework and identifying associated necessary resources to be used in the revision of other online courses, transitioning other on-campus courses to an online format, and developing new courses directly in an online format”

What did you find surprising about the process?

Professor Hollis was surprised to find how much of her and her colleagues’ previous attempts at online teaching–“through trial and error/baptism by fire”–yielded valuable insights that were confirmed through their work with instructional designers. Additionally, Professor Hollis was happy to find that “exciting opportunities existed with online learning for students to be more responsible for their own learning.”

As for working with instructional designers from Courseware Support, Professor Hollis was pleased with “the knowledge, competency, and professionalism of the instructional designers,” specifically in how they “elicited faculty concerns; listened well; and took a concept, made a suggestion, mocked up an example, beta tested, and presented to faculty.” She adds that the instructional designers were “confident, self-directed problem solvers.”

Nurse standing next to patient receiving an MRI.

If you were starting over with the instructional design process, what would you do differently?

“I would develop a strategic plan with clear priorities for revisions over time,” Professor Hollis says, noting that the “initial priorities eventually morphed into high-impact items such as chunking content, ‘look and feel,’ organization, and navigational aids.”

Thinking to future iterations of NURS 664, Professor Hollis says that “future priorities will be webinar structure, inter-activeness of PowerPoints, quality of videos, and increased inter-activeness of homework through gaming.”

What is one piece of advice you can give to anyone who is thinking about re-designing their course?

Professor Hollis advises anyone interested in a course redesign project to “develop a partnership with instructional designers and take time to understand each others roles,” adding that “faculty are the course content experts, and the instructional designers are the technological experts.”

Want to help from an instructional designer?

Please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu!