I was inspired to write this blog post after reading an interesting article about MOOCs in Inside Higher Ed. The author makes a very interesting point about using MOOCs to motivate faculty at more traditional colleges to try teaching online. Since MOOCs are shorter than “traditional” online courses, this does seem to a very fair connection to make.
I am lucky in that, at my institution, our faculty are very excited and motivated to teach online. While it may have been a bit of a difficult transition for some in the beginning, teaching online is now being embraced across the programs. I wanted to share some of the tools I use when mentoring faculty, below.
1 – Faculty need to understand that as much dialogue can happen with students online as it does on ground (if not even more so). There is a notion, amongst some faculty, that teaching online causes a difficult barrier to true communication with students, but I have not found this to be the case. The phone is still an option, of course, for those who prefer verbal communication, but email, text messaging, Skype, discussion boards and other tools actually make for very robust, and often passionate exchanges. Though my students are not in the room, I very much feel their presence.
2 – If you put in the work, there can be as much rigor online as there is on ground. For faculty concerned that online teaching is not as challenging, we are continuing to see that this is simply not the case. I take the time to show them the numerous resources and tools available to online students, as well as the ability to put in, theoretically, endless readings and lectures. I explain to faculty and show them feedback from former on ground students explaining very clearly how the rigor was much more than they initially expected.
3- The flexibility is a true asset, for both the student and teacher. My institution teaches in an asynchronous environment; while this does not work for each student and each faculty member, generally, it is embraced as a very positive attribute of online learning. It’s important to note that while these classes may not require the students to be in a certain place at a certain time each week, that does not limit what the faculty can do. Face to face office hours, optional live chats and conference calls are all ways to interact with students outside of the traditional classroom.
There are other ways to motivate, of course, but alerting faculty to these points seems to really make a difference in the way that they approach the online experience. Does anyone else have any ideas they’d like to share? Thank you for reading!