Sunday, October 18, 2009
Preparing Dozens of Faculty to Teach Online in a Month or Less
This scenario is not all that uncommon. Just when you've got your faculty development program zipping along nicely, you find out that you've got a huge, unexpected increase in online courses or programs next semester. Program growth is generally good news, but you cringe at the thought of all the 18-hour days it will take to get these faculty prepared for any resemblance to quality online teaching. First of all, ditch the idea of a series of face-to-face training sessions that focus on the course management system. It will be nearly impossible to get all faculty in attendance, and you probably won't have time for make-up sessions. The recipe for this scenario consists of three parts: a short online training course focusing mainly on the pedagogy; a peer mentoring system; and a just-in-time technical support system. The online training course should include some basic course management system information, but most faculty will pick some of this up by their participation in the course. The online training course should focus more on how faculty can make their courses successful for students, and will give the faculty a first-hand look at the student experience. In the peer mentoring component, faculty should be assigned to veteran online faculty who agree to allow them to visit their own courses and assist them with course design and pedagogical questions that arise. This will also free up administrator time to focus on other many other support issues that will arise in the short weeks leading up to the beginning of the "growth" semester or quarter. Lastly, several temporary employees or trained student assistants should be available for an expanded call center to enable these new faculty to get just-in-time assistance by phone or email during the weeks preceding the term as well as the first few weeks of the term.