Faculty Training and Mentoring at a Distance: Learning Together in the Virtual Community

Faculty Training and Mentoring at a Distance: Learning Together in the Virtual Community

Rena M. Palloff (Fielding Graduate University, USA) and Keith Pratt (Fielding Graduate University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-869-2.ch008

Abstract

Evidence suggests that a good instructor is the key to student persistence in an online course. Because of this, the hiring, training, and evaluation of good online instructors has become high priority for most online institutions. Providing good training and also providing incentives for keeping good online faculty have become critical concerns for most colleges and universities. However, not all universities are able to provide good training even under the best of circumstances. Many factors can wreak havoc with well-intended plans to provide training for online faculty. This case looks at the characteristics of a good online instructor as well as the faculty training needed to ensure high quality course design and delivery. Models of effective faculty training and evaluation are reviewed. Two cases, Delgado Community College in New Orleans and Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica are also reviewed to illustrate how critical needs for the delivery of high quality faculty training were met at a distance under less than ideal conditions. The cases illustrate the importance and impact that good training can make.
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The Importance Of Faculty Training For Online Teaching

Faculty are rarely provided with training in the pedagogical skills they need to teach online. A 2002 survey of faculty who teach in various disciplines and are located throughout the United States, yielded results that appear to be the norm of faculty experience, as 75% indicated that they had received approximately 30 hours of technical training in the course management system they would be using; however, only one-third reported receiving any pedagogical training. A subset of surveyed faculty were interviewed; they described the difficulties they were having engaging students in online discussion and their perceived need for pedagogical training (Pankowski, 2004). Given that White and Weight (2000) note that teaching techniques that work in the face-to-face classroom may not work online and that faculty are asking for additional support for effective teaching, it is clear that pedagogical training is lacking. Milam, Voorhees, and Bedard-Voorhees (2004) note, “…the online paradigm holds that learning itself may be different in the online environment” (p.74). Given that learning itself is different online, shouldn’t faculty training be addressed differently as well?

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