Coach Emeritus

How do you get instructors to attend faculty development offerings?

I am an Instructional Designer at Utah State University. We are looking at two different types of faculty development, and I'm looking for strategies that work in getting instructors into seats for faculty development offerings. We have different two types:

1. Workshop style offerings from our instructional design shop on tools and technology

2. Seminar style offering specific to teaching and learning

Please let me know what has worked best in either or both of these style faculty development offerings. Thanks!

27 Replies
Community Champion


I watched a great presentation at InstructureCon 2015 and they explained their success with badging with PD. However, it was like a hybrid badging system. They created tangible and digital badging- interesting concept.

Something that works for our faculty is: offering snacks. Another idea, would be to create a project-based learning model in a blended environment. I think this is a great topic and would also love to hear about how other schools rally teachers.


You bring up an interesting point - Blended Learning

An additional item that we are doing is we have partnered with the University of Central Florida and their Center for Distributed Learning to learn more about the Blended Learning process.

Learn more about UCF's Blended Learning here.

Thanks for the resource. I've attended a few webinar by iNACOL and find the same principals they describe for a blended (student) program could be applied to PD. I would also also consider building a type of certificate program for faculty to work/build towards. The ISTE has built internationally recognized standards, which could be used as a PBL rubric for teachers. One day I hope to build a program similar to this.


Thanks for your comment,  @stephanie_pope ​. We're in the process of adding badging as well, so your comment was timely.

I agree that food draws people in, allows them to commune a little at "the watering hole" and leaves them at ease and refreshed. That builds camaraderie and good will with the instructor. It's a win-win.

And, wow, the PBL model is spot on, Stephanie.

We're a new Canvas 9-12 school this year and teachers are using Canvas as an online bulletin board (and that's all!) or have a long list of assignments or PDFs without page or module organization. Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggggh! Relatively few "get"pages or modules or have explored anything beyond basic assignments.

I'm now teaching an in-service course to faculty who want to go further. Although it's F2F, I built the course in Canvas, structured as a blended course.

Each session (1/week) I provide a module on a different topic. They start with a Page including a brief text intro and outline, a Canvas video (e.g. "Introduction to Conferences"), then they interact with the tool as a student in my Canvas course. Finally, they go into one of their own Canvas courses and create their own Conference or whatever, playing with the options available.

There will be several sessions during which they simply work on their courses, incorporating new Canvas tools and activities, or perhaps organizing their materials into sequential activities within pages and modules. All this is to say that it has to practical, hands-on, and immediately productive. Educators just don't have the time for anything else. (And in our school, it's a great way to model effective teaching.)

This sounds great Joe. I feel a blended rotating model can capture all the essentials: f2f, collaboration, and independent play. I'd be interested to know how this in-service goes...please keep us posted!


Will do, Stephanie.

Community Novice

We are in Year 1 of our Canvas roll-out and I have the EXACT same question. Currently, here is how I am pushing out our PD in terms of Canvas:

  • Department meetings
  • One-on-one training
  • Sharing info through Canvas Global Announcements
  • Sharing tips in my weekly EdTech email
  • Lunch and Learn sessions (*New - starting this next week)
  • PLC training

In the few "workshop" still offerings I have developed, the attendance was so low, or non-existent, that I decided to give up on the idea and work from the inside out.

Currently, our Curriculum Director is working on a required set of PD for our faculty - this would then include some Canvas training.

Hope this helps & I look forward to seeing what everyone else shares.

Community Novice

We stopped doing work shops in the past because of low attendance. Technology trainings were moved to one-to-one consultations and that has worked out well.  The typical complaint I heard about workshops was that offerings conflicted with class time.

Beginning of Fall '15, our Center for Teaching and Learning started a workshop series that is offered almost every Friday from 9:30am - 11:30am (which of course offers breakfast!). They have good attendance. They have two tracks, one focusing on graduate students and another on faculty. Sometimes they are mixed. Topics have a broad range such as Canvas tools, research, rubrics and grading, hybrid teaching, and outcomes (just to name a few). To teach the workshops, they utilize faculty/staff from their department, our Teaching and Learning Technologies department, and expert faculty from across campus. I like the idea of bringing in faculty presenters because it recognizes them and their department for great work. I think it also helps spread the word about the workshop.

I also like the idea of the blended learning approach for faculty development and am curious to see if others have done it.

This is a fantastic model, u0594853​ I really appreciate you sharing your ideas of what has worked for your group. Thanks again!

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Community Champion

Hi  @travis_thurston ​ - thanks so much for posting this question, as it is one we run into all the time. It's so nice to hear other people share the same issue, and the ways they are working to overcome this.

We have found this past year that just an Open Lab or "Course Tune-Up" session at the start of term has been much better received by our instructors. We specify dates/times/locations and then just send an invite to attend any time during that session - no registration required. We will have a couple of team members on hand and just work individually with instructors as they drop by. The instructors really seem to appreciate the one-on-one assistance, without feeling intimidated by coming to our office or being in a larger group in which they .

Hope this helps!

Thanks,  @ccalderon ​. I like the idea of providing an Open Lab for course tune up. That's a great idea. Thanks!

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Community Participant

As an instructor... I can say there are three things that keep me from attending a faculty development workshop. I will share these and perhaps they have some similarity with your own faculty... many of these (pay) are probably "above your pay grade" to effect, however, you might be able to come up with creative workarounds. Fore warned is fore armed.

  1. I am not paid to attend. I am "fixed term", meaning I am employed for no more than 9-months at a time and I am paid for each section of a course I teach. Anything I do outside of the classroom is "volunteer" time, i.e., I am not paid to perform it. I must have a very compelling reason to attend a development workshop -- e.g., it will save me time in the future, it will make me better at my craft, I like the food and value the opportunity to network with co-practitioners.
  2. The workshop will create extra work that may not be supported. My institution has a knack for "testing out" new technologies for a year or so and then dropping them when they prove to be unpopular. The catch is, to use the pilot service will require a considerable amount of work to modify my existing assignments -- these may not be as pedagogically as sound as the new technology, but the assignments already exist and are "good enough". If I put out the effort (see item #1 relative to volunteer work), I may be one of the few to adopt only to have the service removed in a year. This will require yet another project to return Canvas to its "native", pre-pilot state. In other words, not one unpaid project, but potentially two unpaid projects. I need to know the technology will be supported even if the pilot fails to be interested.
  3. The workshop happens at an inconvenient time. As mentioned elsewhere in the comments, the location and time may be inconvenient. The nature of my employment relationship means I am only on campus 2 days a week and then I am in the classroom or holding office hours. Additionally, due to an unreliable workload from one institution, I now teach at two different universities; this introduces yet more obstacles to being physically present at a development workshop. Where I work, courses are typically taught Monday through Thursday, leaving Friday as a planning/grading day. I might have interest in attending a workshop, but if it means coming to campus at an inconvenient time, I am likely to pass. Having the option to either attend remotely or asynchronously increases the likelihood of my accessing the information.

This is a great insight. Thanks for being willing to share your thoughts,  @john_morris ​.

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Community Champion

1) Make it required and don't do it before or after school—we hate that. Instead, make it on a day when the kids are off. Don't try and do it in small batches and have subs come in, since sub plans can be cumbersome and cause an unnecessary break in the instruction.

2) If you must do it in the summer or after school, offer PD points. You have to offer *something* to make most people want to come.

3) For technology, let people "register" for the level or workshop that fits their needs. Beginners will give up and hate it if you offer something that's at too high of a level for them; advanced users will be bored if you are just showing the basics.

4) Offer several different things per session and rotate. If you split the day into 4 sessions, one can be a "getting to know you", personality activity such as personality compass, or sharing learning strategies. Then leave the other 2 or 3 for teaching/sharing technology.

Rotating is good because if you are teaching tech, the smaller groups will give people a better chance at getting their questions answered.

Hope this helps!

Community Champion

 @travis_thurston  I am very interested to see the comments to this post.  As an instructional designer in higher ed, this is something that our department wrestles with all the time.

At our institution, we offer a mixture of self-paced tutorials, face-to-face consultations, workshops, presentations at in-service events, sponsored webinars, among other things.  We offer PD time for most all of these and in some cases stipends.

What I find works best for the group of faculty that I work is the face-to-face consultations and anything they can complete from the convenience of their office. Offering stipends seems to help, but, as  @john_morris  mentions, it really seems to come down to whether or not the faculty member believes that what is being offered can make them better at what they do, somehow improve the course, or provide an advantage to the students.

Community Participant

Pardon my old expression, but right on  @jbrady2 ​! Utility rules.

At a second institution where I work (they use a different LMS, not Canvas), the LMS support staff assigned me a specialist when they saw my help requests increase. This person first performed several tasks on my behalf (I had not been able to figure out), then created a simple Jing-based video to show me what she did to resolve each. This had the simultaneous benefit of improving my use of the LMS immediately and in the future, and providing an unexpected payoff for a few frustrating hours of failed effort to do so on my own.

The bottom-line is, in just a few weeks of focused effort (all-in-all less than 2 hours of staff time), this support group converted me into a relatively sophisticated practitioner of their LMS that in turn improved 1) the student learning experience in my courses and 2) my experience as an instructor.

This is very helpful information,  @john_morris ​. I really like that the support staff was able to intervene and provide just-in-time training for lack of a better term. When you added that "they saw my help requests increase," what do you mean by that? Is that in reference to emails being sent to support staff, or was there a more formalized method for requesting help with your course?

Let me know, thanks!

Hi  @travis_thurston ​, I'm unsure how they noticed other than it is a small group of three and I had numerous email and phone exchanges with the lead of the group. She made comment to me that it looked like I was trying to do some things with the LMS that they wanted to encourage for instructors. She asked if I would allow a staffer to work on a dedicated basis with me. So, there was awareness on their part, but I did not get the impression there was a system in place.

Community Contributor

My model has been for every f2f workshop that I offer, I also

  1. Broadcast the session as a live webinar
  2. Record the session
  3. Create a Canvas module that covers the same material (I also use this to guide the workshop presentation).

When I started my job, the webinar broadcast of the live session was a requirement, because I was covering two different campuses. But, because I work in a community college--night classes, day classes, high level of PT instructors who don't get compensated for PD--allowing people to access the content in a highly flexible way seems to be a good thing.

I also refer back to these modules on a regular basis, if people have questions about things. You can see an example here: Creating Effective Discussions Title Page: Advanced Canvas Trainings

The other thing that I'm doing lately is sending out a Canvas Tip of the Week video: rough and casual, but sharing a really specific, relatively simple thing that you can do in Canvas to make your teaching life easier that people consistently don't know about, but are delighted by when they learn about it. This also deepens my library of resource demonstrations that I can use to answer help requests. The playlist is public: Canvas Tip of the Week - YouTube

These are fantastic tips. Thanks for sharing your input and expertise on this topic,  @tom_gibbons ​.

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Community Novice

Have you considered doing a needs assessment to determine what training/professional development faculty actually wants or needs. People are more motivated, as  @john_morris ​, mentioned to attend something that they find valuable. Are there other incentives you can offer besides money---time, technology, etc.

I agree that a needs assessment would be helpful. In the past we have had a very low response rate on surveys of that nature, but perhaps we need to approach the needs assessment in a different way. I think that incentives really drive attendance, but we have somewhat limited resources when it comes to offering incentives.

What other types of incentives are being used at other schools and institutions?

Community Novice

This is our first year with Canvas as a K-12 district. Time is the commodity educators are alway short of. One thing that has worked for us is to provide a short, concise bit of training that we call a campfire. It is offered once a week the first 10 - 15 minutes of each period (we are on a block schedule). Last week it was on building rubrics and adding them to an assignment. The week before it was a review of the capabilities of the Rich Content Editor. Teachers come during their prep period and know there will be chocolate and other treats, it won't be longer than 10 - 15 minutes, they can leave when ever they want, and they can stay and ask questions or get help. We don't get all of the teachers every time but we alway have some show up and it usually leads to some good questions and discussions after the 10 - 15 minutes.

The next day I will post a virtual campfire, usually video training of what was covered for those who couldn't make it.

It has been a good supplement to PD days and other training opportunities.

Community Champion

There are a couple of things you can do to get more people to attend. For example, schedule the workshops multiple times at different days and hours to accommodate the schedules of a wider range of faculty. Also, find out if there is a time of the day when faculty are not in the classroom (in our campus that's usually between 1pm and 5pm). Another way is to bring the PD to them. Ask for time on the agenda at their division/department meetings. Things like this will gain you a few more attendees, but if you want them to come in larger numbers you'll need to offer stipends or some other kind of carrot.

Community Novice

So this is my second year being in charge of Canvas and PD development for our teachers.  Originally we did the sit and get method, but last year we started the blended environment with our teachers.  Taking a needed piece of information and having the staff do collaborative projects to demonstrate mastery of the needed concept.  This way we taught two pieces at once.  The needed protocols and ways to use iPads and MacBooks to deliver content.  Example, how to setup phones and voicemail, but had to create an iMovie trailer to present.  So they one, needed to learn how to setup voicemail, but also how to use iMovie too.  In addition to the blended environment, we also created a Canvas course that has a video tutorial of everything they are responsible for tech wise here at TFA.  This way they can access this information at anytime and have a valid tutorial to help them when and if they have a question.  Nick, we need to get together soon and talk about the UCF thing.  Sounds cool!

Coach Emeritus

I appreciate all of the input from the contributors on this discussion. I really appreciate all of the ideas that have been shared. If you haven't already done so, please follow  @travis_thurston  in the Canvas Community and I'll follow back. Let's stay in touch. Thanks again!  @stephanie_pope ,  @jomontuori ​,

 @nick_purdue ​,u0594853​,  @ccalderon ​,  @cwendt ​,  @jbrady2 ​,  @john_morris ​,  @tom_gibbons ,  @klm0046 ,  @ghancock ​,  @floresr ​, and brandonhazzard​.