The University of New South Wales, Australia, hosts a site with short five minute videos of interviews with experienced online instructors, giving advice on topics such as planning your online class, considerations for choosing technology for teaching, should you use an an LMS or the open web, etc. The videos are accompanied by 4-6 page pdfs with tips and additional information.
The Learning to Teach Online project is a free professional development resource designed to help teachers from any discipline, whether experienced in online teaching or not, to gain a working understanding of successful online teaching pedagogies that they can apply in their own unique teaching situations. The project has been funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC)
If you are looking for materials to motivate faculty to get some training in online teaching, take a look, but in my view this site just scratches the surface of what is needed. I was glad to see video being used to present information, and it’s great that these materials have been made publicly available for free. Unfortunately, though, I found these clips to be so short and superficial that they really didn’t provide any real help at all. Telling instructors to put pedagogy before technology is, of course, sensible advice, but what does it mean in practical terms without some examples? Start simple is also sensible, but there is more to online teaching than just keeping it simple, as useful as that is. This is typical of the level of advice in most of the videos. There was no information about evaluation or research of different online teaching strategies and very few of the accompanying pdfs had any publications that reflect research and best practice in the field. It’s as if the whole area of online learning is just being discovered for the first time.
It does though fit well with what I call the amateurish, ‘it’s up to you’, professional development model of asking those with just a bit more experience to help those without any.
Isn’t it time we put training for online learning (indeed all training in post-secondary teaching) on a more professional basis, built around research into learning, and best practices in online teaching linked to theory and practical examples, with evaluation and research supporting such practices? For these reasons I find the professional development material from the UK’s JISC and the Australian Flexible Learning Framework much more professional and useful.