University of South Florida

Innovative Education


digital learning faculty training and support members pose with award winner sign

USF Online Instructor Certification Earns International Recognition with Association for Talent Development Excellence in Practice Award

USF Innovative Education’s Digital Learning Training & Support Team was recently recognized with an Excellence in Practice Award from the Association for Talent Development for its institutional certification program, the Online Instructor Certification. The award was given in recognition of the OIC’s impact as a faculty professional development program in the ATD’s Learning and Development category. 

The OIC prepares USF instructors to effectively teach online by building both technical skills and pedagogical best practices, with a focus on student engagement. Through the OIC, faculty strategically develop plans for optimizing instructor presence, assessment, feedback, digital presentations, and more.  While designed for online instructors, the OIC extends its benefits to all faculty seeking to elevate their digital teaching and learning skills and enhance the overall student learning experience.  

The ATD Excellence in Practice Award is given to organizations that have demonstrated achievement of organizational outcomes, identified and addressed an evident need, and have effectively employed strategic design approaches to enhance performance.  

Lindsey Mercer, associate director of Digital Learning Training and Support, Tampa, will accept the award at the ATD International Conference & Exposition in May, doing so alongside national leaders in talent development from organizations such as Charles Schwab, Kia, Leidos, and Siemens. “This award signifies that the work we’re doing is effective not only for faculty but ultimately improving learning experiences of our students,” said Mercer. 

Meeting the Florida Board of Governors’ Professional Development Goal

The Florida Board of Governors has established a goal that requires 90% of state university system faculty teaching online to complete a professional development certification for online teaching by 2025. The OIC fulfills this requirement by serving as the designated professional development platform for USF Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee online faculty.

Digital Learning Training and Support teams certified over 450 faculty in the past year alone. Since its inception in 2014, over 2,600 online instructors have completed the OIC, which continues to be recognized as a “best in class” program dedicated to honing faculty’s pedagogical and technical skills while fostering peer-to-peer engagement.  

One of the major benefits of the certification is that faculty members taking the course have various levels of experience in online teaching. The OIC has been designed to accommodate all participants regardless of technical expertise or teaching modality. Experienced online instructors can share their insights and collaborate with their peers who are newer to the online format, enhancing the learning experience for all. 

“The time frame for the Online Instructor Certification is perfect. There are various resources yet not too overwhelming,” said Christie Tang, associate professor of instruction in the Department of Chemistry. “The discussion assignments provided an opportunity to reflect and refine my teaching methods.”  

“I liked that there are instructors from different disciplines, and it’s interesting to see how they structure and conduct their online classes. Knowing that there is a strong support group and experienced experts to consult with, I feel more confident teaching an online class,” she added. 

Faculty Stipend Opportunity

Faculty may choose from two options to complete the certificate. The traditional version of the certification is a fully online, four-week program, with each module rolled out weekly. There is also an accelerated, live version of the certification – OIC Boot Camp, which includes a one-day remote training session followed by one week in Canvas, where participants spend one to three hours reviewing presentations, engaging with peers, and completing assignments. 

Eligible faculty who complete the OIC will receive a $500 stipend. However, the stipend is expected to expire by summer 2024, so faculty are strongly encouraged to complete the OIC soon to take advantage of the stipend opportunity. 

Learn more about the OIC options, who is required to complete it, who is eligible for the stipend, and how to register here

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About Department News

USF Innovative Education is a powerhouse of creativity and collaboration, offering a range of faculty-related services including learning design, multimedia development, technology integration, and support for teaching and learning. We help faculty transform courses into dynamic learning experiences, providing training and support for various programs. We work with both experienced and new faculty, assisting them in integrating technology and staying up to date with educational trends.