March 24, 2017

Initiating instructors to online learning: 10 fundamentals

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Click to download the pdf

What? Not ANOTHER book from me? Well, no, not quite.

Teaching in a Digital Age‘ has been a great success but it appears it is being primarily used by faculty and instructors already committed to online learning, or on courses for post-graduate students, who don’t have much choice if it is set reading. That’s great, but even though it’s been downloaded over 40,000 times and is being translated into seven languages, there are still hundreds of thousands of faculty and instructors in North America alone who are either not interested in teaching online or are very nervous about it. The Babson 2013 survey for instance found that only 30 percent of chief academic officers believe their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education.  This rate is lower than the rate recorded in 2004.

One reason for this is that there are many misconceptions about online learning. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about online learning being more work or about the quality of online instruction. Of course, reading Teaching in a Digital Age might help dispel the misconceptions and the concerns, but instructors resistant to online learning are not likely to engage with a 500 page textbook in the first place.

I therefore did a series of blog posts aimed at encouraging ‘resistant’ faculty and instructors to at least give online learning a try. The series was initially called ‘Online learning for beginners‘. Contact North liked the idea and suggested that the 10 posts should be re-edited into a 37 page booklet that can be given to faculty and instructors. This booklet is now available. It can either be downloaded as a pdf from the Contact North|Contact Nord website, or printed locally on demand and then can be physically given to instructors. Of course it is likely to be most effective if used in conjunction with Teaching in a Digital Age, but the booklet is written to stand on its own.

So I am hoping that you will find the 10 Fundamentals booklet useful, that you will pass it on or make it available to ‘resistant’ or undecided instructors, and that this will encourage them to seriously consider teaching online.

Let me know whether you think the booklet is likely to work, and, if not, what else could be done.

Comments

  1. Tony, nice work. If I would suggest anything, it would be to update Guide 9 to include recent findings by cognitive scientists on how learning works. I have used Chickering and Gamson’s 7 Principles for years, but I have augmented them with 7 principles of learning described in Susan Ambrose et al (2010) How Learning Works:

    1. Students’ prior knowledge can serve to help or hinder learning.
    2. Students’ organization of knowledge impacts how students learn and apply what they know.
    3. Motivation determines, directs, and sustains what students learn.
    4. To develop mastery, students must develop the skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply them.
    5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances learning.
    6. Level of learner development interacts with “course” climate to impact learning.
    7. To become self-directed, learners must be able to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning (pages 4–6).

    These apply equally to online learning as they do to face-to-face learning.

    Again, nice job on the guidebook. It is a useful addition to your earlier work.

    • Many thanks, Britt – great comment.

      You are correct – I could have spent more time drawing on some of the more recent research on learning, such as cognitive load and socio-cultural factors (both really important for online learning), but as always I was trying to walk the line between rigour, comprehensiveness and brevity! Some of this research is dealt with in more detail in Teaching in a Digital Age, but not very fully. It’s something I will bear in mind for any second edition.

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