The process of organizing faculty for distance learning shares characteristics with planning for classroom instruction. It is necessary to understand faculty and their characteristics as a group. This includes knowing and understanding their expectations, their general work conditions, the type and level of education that is typical, as well as the general professional personality and culture of the faculty body. Consider well the faculty-learners’ characteristics, and based on those select the most fitting assessment techniques, media, and methods. There are also co-requisite conditions that must be satisfied to successfully mobilize faculty to teach via distance. These include the provision of equipment: hardware, software, and any other necessary technology. The faculty must be capable of and inclined to use the technology. There must be an overt expression of the expectation that teaching online is an institutional priority. Faculty, in turn, need to be aware of, understand, accept, and endorse the expectation. There must be incentives for teaching online, and they must be of the sort that will motivate faculty.
Readiness Of The Faculty-Learner To Undertake Distance Instruction
A strong predictor of faculty using computing technology in instruction is the effect of subjective norms (Marcinkiewicz & Regstad, 1996). This is the perception that one is expected to use educational computing by one’s colleagues, administration, students, and learned societies. It is similar to “peer pressure.” In order to profit from this perception, an institution must create the conditions necessary to enable this perception. With institutional intentions and plans clarified, the faculty organizer must examine the demographic characteristics of the faculty body. This will inform subsequent decisions regarding the methods, media, and assessments that will comprise the professional development efforts.
Characteristics of Faculty Learners
In planning instruction for faculty to teach via distance, consider that most individuals working in higher education teach; even most administrators start from teaching faculty positions. Individuals often enter teaching because of their love of learning. Faculty members are also supportive of each other and have a decided preference for practical tips and tactics versus theory when learning about instruction, though they do expect tips and tactics to be grounded both in theory and effective practice. It is a professional expectation of the professoriate to be intelligent—faculty members are regarded as experts in their fields of study.
Thus, we can broadly conclude that faculty-learners love learning, are mutually supportive, practical, and intelligent. These broad assumptions, adjusted according to institution-specific data, can provide insight into the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of your faculty-learners. All instructional planning for training methods, the media used, and the assessment should address the characteristics of faculty-learners.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Learner Characteristics: Not all students approach learning in the same way. The degree of novelty or familiarity of a subject to a learner influences the selection of the manner of representing the information from kinesthetic, to aural and visual, or abstract.
Media: Information is exchanged. The physical path of the exchange comprises media.
Small-Group Instructional Diagnosis: This is a process organized to elicit student feedback about instruction. Feedback is collected by small-group consensus, then large-group prioritization.
Transactional Distance: The dynamic of teacher-learner relationships that exist when learners and instructors are separated by a combination of space or time.
Methods: As information is exchanged, it is manipulated typically by presenting it directly or partially with the intention of the learner hypothesizing about the information and verifying the hypotheses.