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BOLD Fellows Program

The Blended & Online Learning Design
(BOLD) Fellows Program





The Blended & Online Learning Design (BOLD) Fellows Program is designed to help graduate student/faculty teams build expertise in developing online instructional materials grounded in good course design principles and our understanding of how people learn. Faculty members partner with graduate students to design and develop online instructional materials to solve a teaching “problem” in one of their courses. The teams implement the materials in an existing class and investigate their impact on student learning. Examples of projects can be seen in the BOLD Gallery.

The program grew out of a partnership between CIRTL and the CFT and embodies several of their core ideas, notably the importance of using teaching practices supported by research and investigating the impact of teaching choices on student learning.  The program helps graduate students and faculty members solidify their understanding of course design processes, investigate their pedagogical choices, and consider their application to online learning, while simultaneously creating products that can directly benefit students in targeted classes. The CFT has also created a website to support BOLD Fellows in developing their online instructional modules, as well as anyone interested in blended and online learning. While the program initially included only teams from STEM disciplines, teams from all disciplines are now encouraged to apply. All VU-employed (Provost-reporting) faculty are eligible.


Program structure

BOLD Fellows will be guided through the design and construction of their module during the “design and development” semester. This semester includes sessions on establishing learning objectives; creating assessments; designing activities; presenting content; and seeking IRB approval.  During this semester, Fellows meet regularly as a cohort and consult with their faculty partner frequently about design decisions. During the “implementation and assessment” semester, Fellows, faculty mentors, and CFT staff meet as needed to discuss results from assessment of the modules.



2019-2020 BOLD Fellow Teams

Christina Davis working with
David Weintraub, Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Maria Gorchichko working with
David Ernst, Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Ethan Joll working with
Dave Merryman, Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Deborah Levy working with
James Booth, Professor of Psychology Sciences
Erika Nelson working with
James Hudnut-Beumler, Professor of History
Christopher Stachurski working with
Susan Verberne-Sutton, Senior Lecturer, Chemistry
Shih-Yuan Liang working with
Melanie Schuele, Associate Professor of Special Education, and Heather Gillum, Adjunct Associate Professor of Special Education

2018-2019 BOLD Fellow Teams

Amberly Dziesinski working with
Will Doyle, Associate Professor of Leadership, Policy and Organizations
Andrés Martínez working with
Kenneth Frampton, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Blake Wallrich, working with
Lily Claiborne, Senior Lecturer in Earth & Environmental Sciences
Chelsey Dyer working with
Stacy Simplican, Senior Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies
Ian Morton working with
Melanie Schuele, Associate Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Pietra Bruni working with
David Schlundt, Associate Professor of Psychology

Janine Christiano working with
Sara Safransky, Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Development
Natalie Covington working with
Rima Abou-Khalil, Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Jacques Morin working with
David Laird, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Lam Pham working with
Xiu Cravens, Associate Dean for International Affairs, Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

2017-2018 BOLD Fellow Teams

jack-allen2Ke Ding working with
Alan Bowers,
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
singer-pruett-jonesCara Singer and Dillon Pruett working with
Robin Jones, Assistant Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences
hessling-schueleAlison Hessling working with
Melanie Schuele,
Associate Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences

Jason Eggold and Carl JohnsonJason Eggold working with
Carl Johnson, Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences
Brandt Gibson and Simon DarrochBrandt Gibson working with
Simon Darroch, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Sandya Lakkur and Robert JohnsonSandya Lakkur working with
Robert E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Biostatistics
Travis Moore and Erin PicouTravis Moore working with
Erin Picou, Research Assistant Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences

2016 BOLD Fellow Teams

L to R: Jena McDaniel and Laurel Teller, Hearing & Speech Sciences,
working with Melanie Schuele, Associate Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences
L to R: Kristin Droege, Chemistry, working with Cynthia Brame, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences; Brandt Eichman, Professor of Biological Sciences; Lauren Jackson, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; and Charles Singleton, Professor of Biological Sciences

2015-16 BOLD Fellow Teams

Ryan Bowen,
Chemistry, working with
Susan Verbene-Sutton,
Senior Lecturer in Chemistry

Alex Cheng
, Biomedical Informatics, working with Kim Unertl, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics

Kelly Gilmore
, Chemistry, working with Tara Todd, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry

Kendra Oliver
, Pharmacology, working with John Wikswo, Professor of Physics

Michael Walker
, Computer Science, working with Doug Schmidt, Professor of Computer Science

Zhi Zheng
, Electrical Engineering, working with Nilanjan Sarkar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

2014-15 BOLD Fellow Teams

Noah Green, Biological Sciences, working with Douglas McMahon, Professor of Biological Sciences
Hannah Krimm, Hearing & Speech Sciences, working with Melanie Schuele, Associate Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences
Thomas Struble, Chemistry, working with Jeffrey Johnston, Professor of Chemistry

Samantha Tramontano, Earth & Environmental Science, working with Guilherme Gualda, Associate Professor, and Lily Claiborne, Sr. Lecturer of Earth & Environmental Science

David Caudel, Astronomy, working with Susan Stewart, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Erika Grundstrom, Director of Astronomy Labs
Mary Keithly, Chemistry, working with Kathy Friedman, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Mark Woelfle, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences (not pictured)

Tyler McCleery, Physics, working with Shane Hutson, Associate Professor of Physics

Emilianne McCranie, Chemistry, working with Michelle Sulikowski,Senior Lecturer in Chemistry

Udo Obodo, Biological Sciences, working with Steve Baskauf, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Faizan Zubair, Chemical Engineering, working with Paul Laibinis, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

2013-14 BOLD Fellow Teams

Katherine Friedman, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, working with Tessy Sebastian.

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery, working with Zane Ricks.

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, working with Lauren Campbell.


Cynthia Brame, CFT Associate Director
Rhett McDaniel, CFT Educational Technologist

Frequently asked questions

How extensive are the instructional materials Fellows create? 

Typically, the learning modules that BOLD Fellows create are equivalent to 1-3 class days.  Because graduate students are completing this work in addition to their other work—their dissertation research and any other responsibilities they have—we encourage Fellows and their faculty mentors to focus their attention on one particular topic or concept for which blended or online instruction may provide benefits.

What do the learning modules that BOLD Fellows create look like?

To date, all of the modules that the BOLD Fellows have created are intended to be used for blended instruction—that is, the online materials are meant to complement face-to-face interactions. The online materials often include some video content and some form of formative assessment to help students evaluate their own understanding. The videos the Fellows have created vary, ranging from Khan-academy style tutorials, to animations with verbal descriptions, to interviews and staged arguments. The formative assessments BOLD Fellows have used within their modules have also varied, ranging from in-video and post-video multiple choice questions to short writing assignments to simulations. Completely different projects are also encouraged, however!

What role does the faculty mentor play?

The faculty mentor for each BOLD Fellow plays an essential role. Typically, the faculty mentor has identified a “problem” in a class that s/he is teaching –such as low student engagement or difficulty with a particular concept—that may be addressed through the development of a blended or online learning module. The faculty mentor has the content knowledge necessary for developing the module (although ideally the Fellow does as well), and has a deep understanding of the particular course context—that is, the challenges that face students in this class at this institution. These elements are essential for developing an effective module. Furthermore, the faculty mentor has to want to implement the module in his or her class and has to be willing to collect data on its effectiveness. Thus the program is best seen as a partnership between the Fellows and their faculty mentors.

What are some of the principles that guide the development of the learning modules?

We encourage the BOLD Fellows to consider what we know about principles of learning and how those principles can be implemented effectively in an online setting.  How People Learn and How Learning Works are great summaries of the principles of learning. The CFT’s teaching guide on Blended and Online Learning summarizes knowledge about how to implement these principles in an online setting.

How much money accompanies a BOLD Fellowship?

Currently, the Fellowship is accompanied by $1000. It also offers the opportunity to apply for $500 for travel money to support presentation of the BOLD project.

How much time should BOLD Fellows expect to spend on their project?

During the first semester, the group meets weekly for 1.5 hours to guide Fellows through the design and development of their modules. Fellows will also need to discuss the design of their module regularly with their faculty mentor. Finally, they will need to set time aside to build the module. The amount of time to build the module varies significantly, depending on the size and sophistication of the module, the Fellow’s existing knowledge about the subject matter targeted in the module, and the Fellow’s comfort with the technology s/he wants to use.  Finally, we ask that the BOLD Fellows present their work to a local audience at the end of the year. Time management and project management skills also have a significant impact on the time that Fellows spend on the project. When designing a project, we encourage Fellows and their mentors to consider the time they have to devote and then to choose a project that can fit within that time.

What aid does the CFT offer?

The CFT offers guidance to the Fellows in considering principles of learning and how to apply them to their modules and guidance on the design on the modules. We also introduce Fellows to some of the tools available to create online content and training on how to use some of those tools. Finally, we help Fellows and their mentors through the IRB application process.

It’s also important to note the limits to the help we can provide. The Fellows are the creators of the modules; although we can help Fellows identify and learn to use tools for creating online content, we do not create the content ourselves. We also have limits to the tools we can help Fellows use; there are no programmers or computer scientists on staff at the CFT, and thus we can’t help Fellows develop applications that require programming skills.