Although online instruction has grown to be far from a fad, I’ve noticed something peculiar about it. Online courses are nobody’s favorite. Well, that might be going too far. They are clearly among the favorites of administrators and managers hoping to distribute “virtual classroom environments” far and wide without the encumbrances of airplanes, hotels and school buildings, but I’ve never heard of a teacher coming specifically to the profession with a burning desire to teach online.
So far – and it might be too early to see this – the online experience has not produced a teacher, instructor or (God forbid!) an instructional designer who has had a Road-to-Damascus experience online, where one minute there is an ardent but resistant learner and the next a flaming would-be pedagogue anxious to commandeer the reins of a class in order to lead others to a similar experience. Interestingly, two professions that always seem to have an element of mission in them are the clergy (naturally enough) and teaching.
On the flip side students don’t (yet) choose online courses above face-to-face instructor-lead classes – fancy hotels and travel per diems notwithstanding. The reason this is important is that on the one hand it’s unlikely that anyone in the education professions today is going to be able to avoid teaching through or writing for the online environment; and on the other, it might not be a preferred medium, leading one to feel a bit out of place, awkward or even bungling as an online instructor.
Fortunately help is at hand. There are many good references and guides for online training that can assist the new-comer in getting started or serve as a refresher for those returning to the virtual classroom after a hiatus. One resource worth noting is Dr Curt Bonk‘s collection of online video primers for e-Teaching and Learning. The 27 videos focus on planning and delivery of online instruction. The presentations are directed at the college instructor but most are equally of interest to corporate and government trainers. Each video is about 10 minutes in length. Topics include:
- Planning Online Courses
- Managing Online Courses
- Providing Feedback
- Online Interaction
- Quality Supplemental Materials
- Blended Learning Implementation
- Online Visual Learning
- Webinars and Webcasts
- Podcasting Uses and Applications
- Wiki Uses and Applications
- Blog Uses and Applications
- Hands-on Experiential Learning
- Assessing Student Online Learning
- Trends on the Horizon