When you first start teaching online, there’s the temptation to put on your Superman cape and try be ultra responsive and ever-present. So intent on ensuring that each and every student has a successful learning experience in your class, you answer student emails at any hour of the day or night, respond to every discussion board post, and design elaborate assignments that take advantage of all the latest technology tools available.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
We all are familiar with the stereotype of the professional adjunct: a harried and underpaid soul cobbling together a marginal income by racing from campus to campus, teaching a class here and a couple of classes there, using their car as a mobile office, and hoping for the day that someone offers them a “real” tenure-track job on a single campus.
Campus security is not normally an issue that is discussed in conjunction with faculty members. Typically, campus safety is relegated to the purview of administrators and campus police. Few professors receive substantial training on ways to enhance campus safety through what occurs in their classrooms. This view needs to change in order to respond to current realities and to incorporate the recommendations of the latest research on campus safety.
Retention is a big challenge for online programs, but it’s not just a matter of student retention. Faculty retention is just as important. Because geography doesn’t dictate where online instructors can work, they can cast a wide net when looking for a job and don’t necessarily need to stay loyal to their current employer.
Institutions are beginning to create jobs that recognize by name the importance of student engagement in and out of the classroom. These positions are based on the idea that students who contribute actively to their learning environments—through experiences such as learning communities, service-learning, first-year seminars, and undergraduate research—are more likely to succeed in college.
Online courses are rarely “done.” Over time, things change, including the curriculum and content (because of changes in the field and changes to available content) and the technologies (ways that the content can be delivered and tools for interacting with it and with others in the courses, including you).
There are many reasons for wishing to increase the diversity of your faculty. They include improving recruitment and retention, raising student engagement, increasing innovation, building stronger communities and helping to prepare tomorrow’s leaders and citizens.
The prospect of teaching topics outside one’s area of expertise can be unsettling for even the most confident faculty member. Nevertheless, due to factors such as budget cuts and curricular changes, faculty are increasingly being asked to teach in unfamiliar territory.
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” — Oscar Wilde
Russell L. Ackoff tells a wonderful story in the podcast for the book he wrote with Daniel Greenberg “Turning Learning Right Side Up:”
After lecturing to undergraduates at a major university, I was accosted by a student who had attended the lecture. After some complimentary remarks, he asked, “How long ago did you teach your first class?”
When we maintain our focus on learning, the means used to help students learn dominates our thinking. Too often teachers can fall into the trap of testing students only on lower-level material (knowledge and comprehension questions). When exams become the only means to assess learning, a teacher becomes a carpenter with only a hammer: all problems start to seem like nails.