From the INTRODUCTION:
“Many educators who begin to teach online believe they can make the transition easily from teaching in a traditional college classroom to an online classroom. What they don’t realize, if they don’t seek out resources to help them learn how to teach in a virtual environment, is that they are putting themselves and their class at a disadvantage. The reason why is due to the significant difference between classroom teaching and online teaching. It isn’t because the principles of adult learning have changed, or the needs of adult students have changed, rather it is due to the change in the format of learning.
Educators who have taught in a traditional classroom are often surprised to discover that online teaching requires a different instructional strategy, and even the use of a different set of skills, when they first become acquainted with a virtual learning environment. The transition can be fairly easy for some educators to make, and much more challenging for others, especially if they have become accustomed to teaching in a particular manner and have not needed to change (or they have not been willing to change) their approach to classroom instruction.
Online teaching is not just about learning how to set up an online classroom and adding learning resources; it is a matter of how the class is taught and the manner of instruction used. To become an effective online instructor there must be thought given as to how the technological tools will be used, how to translate traditional communication into digital communication, and how to evolve from an instructor who stands in front of a class and directs the flow of conversations and interactions to someone who can facilitate and guide the learning process, while keeping students interested and engaged in the course.
Learning to teach online requires having an open mind and a willingness to learn, along with making an allowance for the time needed to implement new methods – while monitoring instructional effectiveness until excellence is achieved.
Transforming Online Teaching
The purpose of this book is to provide you with strategies and resources that I have learned and implemented throughout my career, working as an online educator, faculty development specialist, and Chief Academic Officer. Over the past ten years I have interviewed, hired, trained, mentored, and reviewed the performance of hundreds of online faculty members.
This book was written to provide you with a professional development opportunity. You can choose to read it from beginning to end, or you can choose a chapter to review at the start of each course you are assigned to teach. You may also find it useful to review specific topics of interest after you have conducted a self-assessment at the end of a class.
My hope is that you are inspired as an online educator to develop engaging instructional practices, connect with students in a meaningful manner, and perform your very best.”
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson
The following list provides the chapter titles within this book.
CHAPTER 1. Becoming Visible in a Virtual Class
CHAPTER 2. Working with Online Students
CHAPTER 3. The Impact of Student Beliefs
CHAPTER 4. Learning in a Virtual Environment
CHAPTER 5. Online Class Discussions
CHAPTER 6. Student-Centered Strategies
CHAPTER 7. Online Teaching Challenges
CHAPTER 8. Online Teaching Best Practices
CHAPTER 9. Professional Development
CHAPTER 10. Excellence in Online Teaching
CHAPTER 11. Working as an Online Instructor
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Excerpt from CHAPTER 1. Becoming Visible in a Virtual Class:
“The first aspect of online teaching that an instructor needs to be concerned about, even for instructors who have already taught online classes, is their instructional presence. An instructor’s presence in a class, for any type of classroom environment, is essential for the development of a productive learning experience. The level of involvement by the instructor influences all aspects of student learning, including how interested and engaged students will be in the class, their level of motivation, and how well they perform.
However, there is a difference between being present in a traditional class and an online class. For a traditional college classroom an instructor is present during scheduled class meetings and that changes with an online class as this type of class is open virtually every day of the week and it is possible that students can be present at any time.
It is important as you begin to develop your online teaching practice that you also consider the possible perspective of your students and what an instructional presence might mean to them. Students develop perceptions about the instructor and the school based upon how the course is designed and more importantly, the level of involvement by their instructor. Students who attend a traditional classroom have the immediate benefit of visually observing the instructor and their involvement in the class, which provides important guidance and feedback about the learning process. The nature of those visual observations change with an online classroom environment, and students look for other indicators to let them know their instructor is actively present and engaged in the class.
Online teaching is viewed by some instructors as a function that must be managed, while most see the true potential it holds and that it is a process they must nurture over time. If instructors are going to create conditions that are conducive to learning they must do more than manage the functions of a class; they must be active, present, responsive, and available for students.
A challenge that must be addressed is developing a virtual form of social interactions while never being able to actually meet the students face-to-face. As a result of the absence of direct contact and established weekly class meetings when all students must be in attendance, online instructors need to become accessible to students in some manner rather than being viewed as an anonymous person who may seem distant from them.
Through the development of engaging instructional methods, and the use of techniques that increases their visibility in the class, instructors are able to become a “real” person to students, at least from a perceptual basis. This creates a connection with students and helps develop productive working relationships.”
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