Workshops to Help Faculty Embrace Online Learning

Heather Kanuka & Liam Rourke (2013) Using blended learning strategies to address teaching development needs: How does Canada compare? provides useful insight into how higher education faculty view technology in the classroom. Understanding these perspectives will assist those whose job it is to help faculty integrate online learning tools into their traditional delivery methods.

The research exposes the need to refocus instructor course development; according to the article, instructors generally can’t see the benefit, or enjoyment of online learning. In the feedback gathered by researchers, there was no mention of what the benefits and enjoyment the students got. It boiled down to the development of courses and not the limited potential of integrating online technology into traditional course delivery methods.

How can support staff, such as Educational Technologists, add a different perspective? Simply focus away from what LMSs and online apps can do and shift to how to use them effectively.

There are many workshops on what technology can deliver, but few focus on how to deliver an activity effectively.

I put on a workshop on Blackboard’s Peer Evaluation tool. A few participants attempted it but the activity was less than stellar. Now they may be reluctant to use other tools. I put the workshop on again but included the how to implement a peer evaluation and what outcomes can be achieved. The second round was a great success. All participants felt confident to give it a go, and did. They all succeeded in completing the activity, but with various levels of achieved outcomes. I felt this variance reflected student participation, not the technology.

My next workshop is an activity on debating online. We can show them what tools to use and what it can do, but we have to go further and demonstrate how to use it effectively with examples. Personal experience would be very helpful.

Give it a try. Quickly show instructors the tools then move on to developing an activity and implementing it effectively. Participants will be more responsive to the idea and the activity should leave them with a positive image of the power of technology available for online learning.

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