Preparing Part-Time Instructors for Success in Online Course Development and Teaching

Preparing Part-Time Instructors for Success in Online Course Development and Teaching

Dan Piedra
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6322-8.ch012
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Part-time instructors are at the heart of each continuing education operation throughout the world. They bring a wealth of industry experience which adds real-life undertones to classes. However, many lack foundational training in areas of instructional strategies and adult education theory, learning management systems (LMS) and their use in online courses, and course design and development. This chapter will provide an overview of how McMaster University's Centre for Continuing Education has addressed all three of the above areas with a view towards better equipping their part-time instructors in providing a better-quality learning experience. Central to the above is the use of online training and a thorough and highly structured approach to online course development.
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Despite the importance of professional development, few academic institutions offer much in the way of training for part-time instructors. It is simply something that is complicated by the fact that many of these part-time instructors and course developers do not have much time available during a typical work day. National figures from the United States, indicate that only 48% of academic institutions provide training to part-time faculty (PROCEEDINGS, 1990). The following will review the training and support practices implemented by the Centre for Continuing Education at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. A summary of training and support in three areas will be provided:

  • Instructional Strategies for Adult Learners: An online course (mandatory for all new instructors as well as those with no previous formal training in adult education/training).

  • Learning Management Systems Training: Within the actual tool which instructors will employ, Brightspace by Desire2Learn.

  • A highly-structured approach to online course development including the availability of various templates and aids for developing course content for online courses.


Instructional Strategies For Adult Learners

McMaster University’s Centre for Continuing Education is typical of most modern-day adult education or extended learning centres in that most of its programming reflects vocational programs, many of which lead to industry certification. More and more, learners are gravitating to the online or digital sphere choosing the flexibility of online courses over the traditional F2F options. Currently, over 70% of its annual enrolment of just over 10,000 is involved in online courses. Clearly, students are no different than consumers in that they are slowly moving themselves to the virtual domain.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Socratic Method: A form of cooperative challenging dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

Asynchronous: A course which is delivered with no live elements allowing students to take part at any time.

Course Plan: A blueprint of sorts to plan the initial vision and scope of a course before actually embarking on the design and development phase.

Integration: The process through which instructional content and related activities are uploaded and formatted for delivery within a learning management system (LMS).

Andragogy: The specific and unique approach and practice of teaching adult learners.

Onboarding: The orientation process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become productive members of an organization.

Module Template: Document used to enable instructional designers and subject matter experts to develop each module within a course in a very structured and standardized format with very specific requirements.

Brightspace: Desire2Learn’s learning management system; The branded version of it at McMaster University is Avenue2Learn (A2L).

Synchronous: A course which is delivered with live elements existing or occurring at a specific time.

Pedagogy: The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept, more often associated with younger learners.

Learning Management System (LMS): A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses and/or training. The tool often includes a variety of tools which allow learners and instructor to engage in content while tracking progress and results.

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