A Constructivist Approach to Online Training for Online Teachers
This article examines the pedagogical role of the teacher in online education. Specifically, the transition from in-class room instruction to online instruction is a complex one involving specialized training in the technical aspects of delivering quality educational materials (or environments) to the students, and specialized training in how to foster knowledge acquisition within this new environment. The article focuses on the pedagogical training that an online instructor needs to become an effective teacher.
The article investigates a two-week faculty development pedagogical training course aimed at preparing teachers to operate effectively within an online educational environment. In attempting to orient the teacher to the online environment, the course used a constructivist instructional methodology within an online context. Several types of collaborative exercises were employed such as virtual field trips, online evaluations, interactive essays, and group projects.
The sample (N=44) represented veteran college teachers with little online teaching or studying experience. Tenured faculty (30%) and Instructors (25%) composed the majority of the class. The group had well over 13 years classroom teaching experience (53%), and over three-quarters are currently teaching in higher education institutions.
Hypotheses were tested through online data collection and surveys to find out the effects of the pedagogical training on the participants. One important finding of the study concludes that teachers exposed to the course significantly changed their attitudes toward online instruction seeing it as more participatory, and interactive than face-to-face instruction. Another major finding is that after the course, teachers saw the online medium as more of an extension of their faculty work. That is, faculty were more willing to use the online medium as an extension of their duties.