The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom

By Marguerita Mcvay Lynch | Go to book overview

4

Developing faculty: the changed role of online instructors

Faculty development is critical to the success of any Web-based education effort. In fact, designing, creating, and implementing effective in-service training is the most efficient pathway to the long-term success of your Web-based distance education programs.

A key role change that faculty must begin to embrace in order to be effective in the online environment is that of facilitator or mentor. To use a theater analogy, the traditional instructor serves as the lead actor—the one who must carry the show, even though there is allowance for other characters to interact. In contrast, the online instructor is more like the director—one who ensures that all the characters play their part and that the show moves smoothly from beginning to end, adding his or her expertise only when the actors seem to need assistance. The director (teacher) leaves the content delivery to the script (Web pages and assignments) and the uniqueness of character development and nuances of meaning to the actors (the students).

A change from the traditional teaching role begins with faculty letting the technology become the information disseminator, while they rely on their mastery of the subject and their consummate skills in inducing students to discovery as the means to facilitate learning. The emphasis moves from presenting information to assisting students in identifying personal relevance and integrating it into their lives. Contrary to some beliefs, technology does not allow less knowledgeable instructors to become teachers. Rather, it requires the most knowledgeable instructors to participate. With the emphasis on individual guidance and problem-solving, it is required that the instructor be a master in the subject area and have a strong desire to assist students in the learning process.

Getting acceptance of this change in teaching paradigm and philosophy, as well as getting faculty involved and motivated toward the change, may be very difficult. In this information-flooded environment, teachers are already feeling the struggle of adapting to change; many feel they are barely staying afloat now. Teachers cope with changing student profiles, reduced resources, increased work loads, competition for research funds and enrollments, and verbalized expectations of service from a community to its educational agencies. When new learning technologies are added to the mix, these stressors can overload everyone concerned.

As if all this environmental change were not enough, teachers are also overwhelmed with the options for staff development and teaching skill development now

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The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables x
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Planning for Online Course / Curriculum Delivery 5
  • 2 - Assessing Student Needs and Subsequent System Requirements 27
  • 3 - Building Support Systems 50
  • 4 - Developing Faculty: The Changed Role of Online Instructors 65
  • 5 - Designing Courses and Curriculum 78
  • 6 - Selecting Web-Based Tools 101
  • 7 - Evaluating Student Mastery and Program Effectiveness 117
  • 8 - Miscellaneous Important Details 137
  • References 159
  • Index 163
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