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.
Blending learning involves using a combination of face-to-face interactions and online interactions in the same course. Students still regularly meet in the classroom in a blended course, but the frequency of those meetings is usually decreased. The goal of blended learning is to facilitate greater student learning and could thus fit within a learner-centered paradigm.
During a recent seminar, presenters Kay Dennis of Park University and Jeffery Alejandro of East Carolina University, offered the following tips on using online discussions
A student once lamented that he had attended a class for an entire semester and uttered only one word: “Here.” Although taking attendance is a routine administrative chore, it is not related to teaching and learning, right? Wrong! You can turn roll call into a tool that implants the topic for the ensuing class in students’ minds, sets the tone for the class, and encourages the development of community in your classroom by using a variety of attendance prompts.