Following a successful run of a pilot program, the United Negro College Fund is set to train an additional 1,500 faculty members from HBCU and PBI schools across the country.

UNCF’s online learning training is made available through a partnership with Strategic Education Inc., a notable provider in online learning. The training follows a 2020 pilot program that was launched in response to faculty members forced to rapidly transition to online instruction in wake of the pandemic.

Through the pilot training, 400 faculty members from 14 HBCU and PBI institutions received development training to assist them with transitioning to virtual learning. Participant survey data found that learner engagement grew from 50% to 95% with faculty’s confidence in online learning increasing from 48% to 89%.

“It really started out of a need from our member presidents. They basically said, “Hey, we’re all moving online. Not many of our faculty have done online in the past, what do we do? And so with the support of the Lilly Endowment, Inc, UNCF received a million dollars to launch something,” Ed Smith-Lewis, Executive Director, Institute for Capacity Building, UNCF told Black Enterprise.

UNCF took the million dollars and partnered with four different organizations including Arizona State University, Blackboard, and the John Gardner Institute. “Each of them presented opportunities for either two, four, or six-week courses” aimed at training faculty members for free while incentivizing them at the same time, Smith-Lewis shared.

Faculty response to the program showed confidence in staff designing online learning activities that grew from 50% to 95%, as noted by Crystal Moore, vice president of Higher Education Partnerships at Strategic Education.

“Faculty confidence in terms of guiding and maintaining discussions have, that’s gone from 48% to 89%,” Moore explained. “So we know faculty feel more prepared. And we know that just purely from the stats. But also just the anecdotal feedback that we hear from them.”

Data shows that faculty online learning activities that help students construct explanations/solutions grew from 47% to 93% with faculty confidence to use techniques for peer assessment growing from 40% to 90%.

“Every day, I get an email and it reads something like, “I am so glad that UNCF is offering this opportunity. I feel more equipped,’” Moore said. “And so I think the feedback has been tremendous. The outcomes have been strong.”

Eligible applicants include those employed at a federally recognized HBCU or PBI and fairly new to delivering online instruction. Enrollment comes on a first-come, first-serve basis with scholarship opportunities available. As the country moves toward reopening, UNCF plans to continue the online learning program through Dec. 31, 2021. More information on the training can be found HERE.

Black Enterprise