Before COVID-19, WT was Ramping Up Faculty Training for Online

Flower Darby presents "Small Teaching Online: Practical Strategies to Enhance Learning in Online Environments" to WT faculty on Jan. 31.
May 05, 2020
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CONTACT: Dr. Kristina Drumheller, 806-651-2816,

CANYON, Texas—Even before COVID-19 began, West Texas A&M University’s Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities was working diligently to provide training for faculty members as they created new online courses.

As the newly named head of the online initiative, Dr. Kristina Drumheller coordinated monthly training sessions for faculty in the college during 2019 and invited Flower Darby, educator, author and speaker, to lead a workshop with faculty from across WT during the spring semester.

Darby serves as the director of Teaching for Student Success at Northern Arizona University, where she’s taught for more than 23 years. Flower teaches face-to-face, blended and online classes. Based on her extensive experience teaching online, she wrote the book “Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes,” which was supplied to each faculty member who attended the workshop on Jan. 31.

Darby spoke to WT faculty about teaching online, its best practices, and how faculty can make a big difference by even small changes to improve their online teaching. She provided strategies faculty could implement right away to enliven classes and help students learn more.

“The time you have with your students is precious, so you want to make the most out of it,” Darby said. “In general, institutions aren’t doing enough for the online environment. It’s great that WT invested in this training.”

Even before the pandemic, Darby explained online education made it possible for more people to go to school, and she encouraged faculty to teach from the heart.

“I think what we will see at WT is an increased focus on training and resources, so that faculty can really start to embrace their role as an online teacher,” Drumheller said.

Drumheller explained that COVID-19 has increased the importance of every faculty member feeling comfortable with putting courses online. The Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts will continue working with faculty to maximize student learning and engagement in its online courses. All of the courses during the Summer 1 session will be online across the University.