Earlier this year, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Richard Eglsaer released information about faculty certification for teaching online. Since its inception in Summer 2018, the Online Course Redesign & Faculty Certification development program has welcomed over 160 instructors. While Fall 2018 cohorts are full, we will continue offering ongoing opportunities in semesters to come.
When it comes to the design and purpose of faculty development programs, there seem to be more questions than answers. To date, “there is yet no consensus on the best way to approach faculty development” (Samuel, 2016). While much of the literature points to various delivery approaches- mentoring, one-on-one coaching, facilitator-led, etc.- it is often challenging to design a development opportunity that will cater to everyone’s needs or liking.
The design of the Online Course Redesign & Faculty Certification is predicated on two fundamental beliefs:
- Belief #1: Quality education often begins with quality teaching and quality instructors. Therefore, a critical component in successful online education hinges on faculty readiness in online course delivery (Vaill & Testori, 2012), as well as on their level of expertise in online pedagogy (Kreber & Kanuka, 2006).
At Sam, faculty are top-notch, and helping to create an opportunity for interaction among excellent faculty members is one of the best outcomes of the Online Course Redesign & Faculty Certification.
- Belief #2: Faculty who teach online possess a set of competencies that lead to success. Researchers posit that “teaching in a technology-rich environment is complex, so the online instructor must possess a broader set of skills and competencies in order to ensure learner success” (Bigatel et al., 2012). Among others, the research points to “pedagogical, facilitative, instructional, social, assessment, and technical competencies” (Chen, Lowenthal, Bauer, Heaps, Nielsen, 2017).
Faculty at Sam possess and apply various capabilities that result in excellent online teaching and learning experiences. They realize that in the context of technology-powered education "the fundamental practices for delivering the instruction and facilitating learner interaction are quite different” than those of the face-to-face experience (Watwood, Nugent, & Deihl, 2009).
With these premises in mind, we designed the Online Course Redesign & Faculty Certification as a potential exposure to practical information that can be readily used in an online course. Recognizing that faculty are adult learners and often self-resource and learn in informal ways, we are optimistic about delivering a systemic, institutionally-endorsed development opportunity to build upon the wonderful work SHSU faculty have already achieved.
I would like to personally invite you to share your feedback with us about these development opportunities. We welcome your insights into how to make the certification a worthwhile and appealing option for you.