But just because I know “my” content forwards and backwards, does that make me a good teacher? That would be no. We’ve all had professors who were brilliant in their field, but should be kept locked in their lab with limited exposure to students. As Albert Einstein said “Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”
It’s challenging enough to develop faculty as classroom teachers – they were trained in their area of expertise after all, not in teaching methods. But the stakes are even higher in online education. I am excited all out of control about my next big career jump – developing a master’s degree in palliative care (caring for people with advanced illnesses) to be offered entirely online. I have many, many fears and misgivings about this process. One that heads the list is developing faculty to be effective online teachers.
In his whitepaper on best practices in online faculty development, Dr. Clinefelter (2012) states that institutions should provide opportunities for ongoing faculty developing including:
“Providing membership to professional associations devoted to supporting online faculty members.
Creating a center for online faculty development.
Developing an advisory board for online faculty development.
Hosting a portal or Web site where faculty members can access institutional services, such as training programs, tutorials and documents.”
Content expertise is critically important. Effective face-to-face teaching is equally important. And as we move to reducing the globe to being a simple click away, effective online teaching skills are similarly imperative.
I may not have all the answers yet, but I feel secure in the knowledge that I will insist on cutting edge faculty education and support, and I’m grateful that I have the institutional support to do just that!
Clinefelter, D. (2012). Best practices in online faculty development. http://www.learninghouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Best-Practices-for-Online-Faculty-Development_Web_Final.pdf