The growth of online learning continues to outpace traditional enrollments at colleges and universities across the country (Allen & Seaman, 2011). Fueled by the need for flexibility and expanding new learning opportunities, student expectations for online learning have also become more discerning as they encounter more online course work. In response, increasing numbers of colleges and universities have begun to come to terms with the fact that online learning - while a clear disruption - is not a fad. A broad conversation about the future of online learning in higher education, and how it can serve as a strategic asset, is beginning to take root at more universities as they consider issues related to developing and offering online courses and degree programs. Key to this conversation, are university faculty members interested in exploring the online environment, many of whom do not have experience either taking or teaching online courses. While faculty development for online teaching has been identified as a characteristic of top online degree programs (U.S News and World Report, 2012), there is limited information about the design of these opportunities for faculty. Indeed there appears to be a range of program designs, and limited consensus about what high quality faculty preparation for teaching online should consist of.
This session aims to generate conversation about what constitutes high quality faculty development for teaching online by describing a comprehensive faculty development program designed to enhance online pedagogy and support development of online courses. The presenters will report on the design of a multifaceted program developed in a Center for Teaching Excellence at a large urban research university, and conducted over the last three years to small cohorts of faculty members. In addition, the presenters will share an evaluation process that was used to determine how the program supported faculty growth in several key practice dimensions. The program was informed by the following design considerations:
•Faculty member experiences as online learners are critical to their development as effective online teachers.
•Faculty members benefit from ongoing opportunities to critique their assumed roles as online teachers.
•Engaging in online community building experiences is key to shaping practice in the online environment.
The session will introduce and briefly describing the core pieces of the Online Course Development Initiative, which includes faculty participation in the following components over an entire academic year: 1) an introductory web-based learning experience exploring guiding principles of online teaching, 2) a weeklong face-to-face institute on online teaching and learning, 3) a three week online mini-course addressing online course design, and 4) ongoing consultation with instructional designers to pace and support online course development. Presenters will share experiences about [re]designing and conducting this faculty development program over the period of three years. In addition, we will share basic results from our program evaluation process, and invite Q&A about the design and outcomes with session participants.
By the end of this session, participants will:
•Have an understanding of the importance of key design considerations informing faculty development programs for online teaching.
•Critique the comprehensive design presented during the session, and consider possible application for their home institutions.
•Consider the importance of engaging in meaningful program evaluation to determine efficacy of programs designed to prepare faculty members to teach online.
Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States, 2011. Babson Park, MA: Babson Survey Research Group.
U.S. News & World Report. (2012). Report on Top Online Education Programs. Available online: http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education