Promoting Digital Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Options for Distance Learning Instructors

Promoting Digital Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Options for Distance Learning Instructors

Nicole Luongo (Saint Peter's University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8476-6.ch004

Abstract

This chapter explores various faculty development digital teaching and learning options that higher education institutions can offer distance learning instructors. The chapter explains specific methods of providing professional development opportunities for these educators. Some of these options are connected to promotion and tenure, acquisition of new technology, and personal satisfaction. Recently developed technological rewards such as digital badges and credentials are discussed in this chapter. The author explains how nationally recognized professional development programs can enhance professional development programs by offering new options to faculty. The author recommends that higher education institutions modify their current processes for offering professional development options for faculty who design and develop distance learning courses. The chapter suggests that faculty members need specific digital teaching and learning professional development training options when designing and teaching distance learning courses.
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Background

Distance learning, otherwise known as distance education or online learning, is defined as an institution-based form of education where students are physically separated from professors, and interactive telecommunication systems connect learners and resources (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2014). The National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) defines a distance education course as “a course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education. Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education” (Allen, Seaman, Poulin, & Straut, 2016, p. 3).

For the purposes of this paper, distance education is defined as a form of education “that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously” (Seaman & Allen, 2017, p. 6). There are four main characteristics that distinguish distance learning from traditional face-to-face instruction (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2014). Primarily, distance learning is carried out through an institution; it is not a self-study or non-academic learning activity. Students who succeed in distance learning courses are awarded college or university credit. Second, geographic separation is inherent in distance learning; students and professors are located in different areas. Third, interactive telecommunications connect the learning group with each other and with the instructor. Most often, electronic communications such as electronic mail or web-based tools are used, but traditional forms of communication such as the postal system may also play a role. Finally, distance learning establishes an official learning community, which is composed of students and a professor.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Face-to-Face Course: A traditional higher education course that occurs with the learner and the instructor physically located in the same place at the same time.

Online Course: A higher education course in which instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are not physically located in the same place at the same time.

Faculty Development: The process of providing support and training to faculty members to help them improve their work performance.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1: How to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.

Digital Badge: An online symbol that indicates that an individual has completed certain requirements. Can be earned in various teaching and learning environments.

Rewards and Incentives: Outcomes that are given to employees by supervisors or directors. Extrinsic rewards include extra vacation days, fringe benefits, additional financial compensation, new technology acquisition, bonuses, promotions, and institutional recognition awards. Intrinsic rewards include personal and professional growth, career advancement, personal challenge and satisfaction for a job well done.

Community of Practice (CoP): A group of individuals who share a common interest and interact in a way that promotes the interest. In higher education, these COPs can be referred to as faculty learning communities.

Hybrid Course: A higher education course in which part of the instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are physically located in the same place at the same time, but a part of the instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are not physically located in the same place at the same time.

Distance Learning or Distance Education: An Institution-based form of education where students are physically separated from professors, and interactive telecommunication systems connect learners and resources. These courses can include online or hybrid/blended formats.

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