A growing number of faculty teach courses online in addition to teaching traditional face-to-face (F2F) classes. Faculty developing course materials for both environments find they are investing more time learning about how students learn. Learning to teach online can be time consuming (Stern, 2004), and achieving mastery in both modes is quite demanding. To teach effectively in both environments, instructors must think about how to improve student learning outcomes irrespective of the particular setting. Skills needed to help ensure good student learning include the following: selecting effective and emerging pedagogical methods; drafting clear, written materials for students; designing activities that foster active learning; and using principles of sound instructional design, such as the ADDIE model (analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation; Dick & Carey, 1978). Faculty who begin their careers in the classroom are refashioning their optimal teaching methods from the F2F environment for use in online courses. As these faculty gain experience online, they often turn the strategy around, refashioning methods that succeed in the online environment to enhance their F2F instruction. For instance, faculty can integrate innovative online activities into traditional courses. (McQuiggan, 2007) The overall process is akin, both in its challenges and benefits, to mastering a foreign language. What results from this synergistic process is more versatile educators who are able to reach students—and more fully realize their own potential as teachers—by using complementary modes of instruction that interanimate each other.
The movement of faculty beyond the F2F format into the online environment stems from institutional stakeholders’ desire to cater to evolving student preferences and to enroll more students (Shepard, Alper & Koeller, 2006), as well as from the development of course-management systems that facilitate online learning for teachers and students (Jafari, McGee, & Carmean, 2006). College and university leaders understand that students are accustomed to an increasingly wide array of communication modes with 24/7 access, including the cell phone, text messaging, MySpace and FaceBook. These students expect the same access to their college courses. For some, this means taking a F2F course with an online presence; for others, this means taking a fully online course.
Student expectations for flexible scheduling are one reason that deans and department chairs are asking faculty to teach some of their F2F-honed courses online. Instructors often want the same flexibility; indeed, their reasons for teaching online have begun to mimic their students’ various motives for enrolling in Web-based classes. Like students, faculty want both choices and challenges. One obvious advantage of online courses for both faculty and students is the convenience of teaching and learning from home. Add to the convenience the reality that young instructors are often drawn to teaching online because they are used to communicating and learning via an array of Web-based tools. Meanwhile, veteran teachers are often attracted to online teaching as an opportunity to improve learning outcomes, and to try new teaching activities (Jorn, et al., 2003). Interestingly, new and old faculty alike are not abandoning F2F for online; instead, they are choosing to realize the benefits of teaching in both formats.
Consequently, institutions are tapping into these expectations for flexibility by offering individual courses and entire programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in traditional, hybrid and online formats. Clearly, the challenge for provosts, deans, and instructors remains to ensure that students achieve similar learning outcomes in the online environment and in the traditional classroom. With the evolution of web-based course management systems and the onset of learner-focused education theory, online education has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional, face-to-face instruction.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Instructional Design: Theory and practice of analyzing learning needs and goals, developing a delivery system to meet those needs, and measuring the system’s effectiveness.
Webcast: A digital media file, such as a pre-recorded lecture or video, which is distributed over the Internet.
Virtual World: Computer-based simulated environment in which users interact via avatars.
Chickering & Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice: Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson published their “Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” in 1987 in the American Association of Higher Education Bulletin as guidelines to improve teaching and learning.
Course Management System (CMS): A set of tools designed to allow instructors to manage communication and the distribution of materials, assignments, grades and other aspects of instruction for their courses.
ADDIE: Developed in 1975 by Florida State University, the ADDIE model of instructional design is the process for developing instruction. ADDIE refers to the five phases of the process: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.
User-Created Content: Media contributed to social networking and collaboration sites by users of those sites, often via small and easy-to-use Internet tools. Examples include Wikipedia, YouTube and URL sharing resources such as del.icio.us
Learning Management System (LMS): A set of tools designed to organize and manage users learning experiences and to facilitate communication and access to learning materials.
Avatar: Originally, the incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in animal or human form, in popular culture, avatar has come to mean a graphical representation of a user, often in an online game or virtual world.
Social Networking Tools: Small Web applications that allow users to connect and collaborate. Examples include FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn.
Web-Enhanced Course: A F2F course that provides supplementary Web-based resources.
F2F: Face-to-Face learning that takes place primarily in a classroom setting.
Hybrid Learning: Also called blended learning, hybrid learning is training or instruction that combines online and F2F, or classroom, instruction.
Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG or MMO): A video game capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously, which is played in a virtual world on the Internet.