This is the last in a series of ten blog posts aimed at those faculty and instructors in higher education new to online teaching or thinking of possibly doing it. The previous nine are:
- 6. How do I start?
- 8. Won’t online learning be more work?
What you’ve learned
If you have read all previous nine posts in this series, you should now be aware of the following:
- Online learning can be done well, or it can be done badly.
- Online learning is a professional activity, with evidence-based best practices. You need to be aware of these best practices if you want to succeed in your online teaching.
- There are certain conditions where online learning is likely to work, and others where it will be difficult to succeed.
- You need then to choose the appropriate mix of online and face-to-face learning, dependent on the context in which you are working.
- There are many different approaches and technologies that can be used in online learning. The best choices will depend on your specific learning context but you need to be aware of the choices.
- Moving to online learning opens the opportunity to rethink the design of your teaching; indeed you will need to change from a lecture-type approach to a more interactive learning approach if you are to succeed online.
- It is important to work with professional instructional designers and media producers if you want a high quality online course or program.
- The technology, and to a lesser extent, the pedagogy of online learning continues to evolve.
- Thus although, at least in the beginning, it is important to follow best past practices, you also need to be aware of new developments and the potential for innovation in your online teaching.
- Really, in the future, online learning will not be considered different or separate from ‘teaching’. It will be an integrated, normal component of all teaching. So you might as well get to learn to use it well as soon as possible. Start now!
Although I hope these posts have helped you decide to teach online, there is always more to learn. Therefore the following additional resources can contribute to your development as an online instructor.
- Read Teaching in a Digital Age. This free, online textbook is designed to help you develop the knowledge and skills your students will need in a digital age. It could be read from cover to cover, but it’s more likely to be useful as a resource to be dipped into as and when needed. The book covers:
- the types of knowledge and the skills students need in a digital age,
- how online learning can help develop these skills,
- different approaches to teaching online,
- how to decide on the right mix of online and face-to-face teaching,
- how to find and use open educational resources,
- how to choose between different media,
- nine steps to quality online learning,
- organizational requirements for effective online learning,
- how to creative an effective online learning environment.
- Take an online course on how to teach online. This will not only provide you with the knowledge and techniques you will need, but will also give you the experience of what it feels like to study online. Look for programs that allow you to take (and pay) for one course at a time, such as UBC’s Master in Educational Technology. For a list of online programs that will provide you with a good foundation for teaching online, see: Recommended graduate programs in e-learning.
- Follow regular online publications written in non-technical language aimed at those teaching online, such as:
- teachonline.ca from Contact North, Ontario, Canada (‘Pockets of Innovation’ is particularly useful)
- Flexible Learning, University of British Columbia, Canada (the case studies again are interesting)
- Frontiers from WCET (the Western Co-operative for Educational Technology, USA)
- EDUCAUSE Review (USA)
- JISC’s Online Learning Guides, U.K.
- Learning Design tool, from Australian Flexible Learning Network
- my own blog: Online Learning and Distance Education Resources contains over 2,000 posts on different issues in and resources for online learning – use the search box to search for specific topics.
- For a list of the main journals on research and development in online teaching, see: E-learning journals, and/or the American Association of Computers in Education’s LearnTechLib. I recommend particularly:
- IRRODL (International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning): an open, online journal
- British Journal of Educational Technology
- Online Learning, the online journal of the Sloan-C Online Learning Consortium, USA
- At the risk of repeating myself, work with your local Centre for Teaching and Learning, or Centre for Learning Technologies, or Centre for Distance Education, and attend any faculty development workshops on online learning. There is more to learn all the time.
So good luck with your new adventure in teaching at least partly online.
If you have found this series useful, please pass it on to colleagues who you think may also benefit from it.
I’d also be interested in hearing from you of your experiences as newcomers to online teaching.