Our unit in World Campus Academic Affairs is tasked with supporting online faculty development. It’s central to our name: World Campus Faculty Development. That term, however, can be problematic, as is calling what we do “training” or identifying myself as a “faculty developer.” Some faculty can take offense at being “trained,” “developed,” or otherwise “handled.” I myself am faculty in Educational Leadership, and I understand that reaction. Faculty are constantly reading, researching, and learning in their subject domains and sharing their knowledge in their classrooms. Our teaching is an expression of our scholarship. So why do we need “developing” for online teaching?
Simply put, we need to learn how to teach online. There is no simple transfer of behaviors or assumptions from the face-to-face classroom to online. Teaching online is not intuitive, and it is NOT about gee-whiz tools, pushing buttons, performing rote tasks, or limiting learning to lower order thinking. It’s about understanding asynchronicity as the context for learning. It’s about accounting for adult learning theory in course design and instruction, personalizing pre-authored courses, and working with the limitations and affordances of the digital environment. Like face-to-face teaching, online teaching is a craft but a craft with unique characteristics. The master online teacher knows how to translate teaching behaviors, instincts, experiences, and relational gifts honed in the face-to-face classroom to the online, distance, digital, and asynchronous classroom. That translation is a deep and challenging intellectual puzzle, requiring one to learn and re-learn to teach. To my way of thinking, this approach to learning to teach online is so much more interesting than “training” or “developing.”
What we do at World Campus Faculty Development, day after day, is think about, design curriculum around, and support online learning. Learning, not teaching, is the end goal–faculty learning, student learning, and our own learning! We don’t “develop” so much as provide opportunities for faculty to learn something new about the craft of online teaching, to keep coming back to our courses in order to extend their learning, and to enhance their competencies, skills, and understandings.
Want to know more about our mission? Explore our website, take an OL course, sign up for a webinar, or get in touch with me to see how we can support your online teaching and your program!
Laurence B. Boggess, Ph.D.
Photo courtesy of: http://www.theedublogger.com/files/2013/07/onlineed-26nkld2-250×213.jpg