Preparing to Teach Online Creates New Possibilities for Face-to-Face Teaching
The Pennsylvania State University – Harrisburg
16th Annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning, Nov. 3-5, 2010
Final results of action research study:
Professional development program to prepare
faculty to teach online
Effectiveness of various approaches employed
Changes in faculty’s assumptions and beliefs
Impact on face-to-face teaching practices
But first, some background. . .
Characteristics of Adults
More independent and self-
Reservoir of experiences
Readiness to learn related to
life stage and social role
More problem-centered and
want immediate application
More internally motivated
Need for relevance
Transformative Learning Theory
Process by which people are led to consider and
question assumptions and beliefs that have
previously been uncritically assimilated.
Perspectives and assumptions may be revised
so as to be more open, permeable, and better
Developing the Model
Conducted extensive literature review
Reviewed faculty development models awarded
Sloan-C Excellence in ALN Faculty Development
Looked for attributes that support adult learning
Established essential attributes of faculty
professional development program
Tell me how you came to the field of teaching
(their subject) in higher education.
What are the events and experiences in your life
that have made you the teacher you are today?
Tell me about your students.
Tell me about your teaching practices.
Tell me how you feel about teaching online.
Group F2F Session
Objectives determined from pre-interviews
Building from Content to Community: [Re]Thinking
the Transition to Online Teaching and Learning
VCU Center for Teaching Excellence White Paper
(My) Three Principles of Effective Online
Bill Pelz, JALN, 8(3), June 2004
Using the technology: ANGEL (esp. discussion
Would teaching practices match the assumptions
and beliefs about teaching shared during pre-
Would observations match teaching practices
described during pre-interview?
If changes observed, would they be able to be
explained by their online teaching experiences
and/or transformative learning?
Tell me about your preparations to teach online. What did you do?
Tell me about teaching online. Was your experience different than what
you expected? How?
Did adding the online components change what happened in the
Thinking about the faculty development program, what did you find
most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for its next offering?
The reflection journal had varied use. What are your thoughts on the
use of a journal for reflection?
Consider your experiences with online teaching this semester. Using
an amusement park’s rides and activities, choose a metaphor that
reflects you as teaching. Teaching is. . . or I am. . . Would this
metaphor have been the same or different at the beginning of the
Did your prior beliefs or assumptions about teaching and learning
change at all from your online teaching experience?
Research Question #1
Which aspects of the professional development
activities do faculty perceive being most effective
in helping them to reflect on and question their
previously help assumptions and beliefs about
Most effective in supporting change were
opportunities for faculty to:
Talk to experienced online colleagues
Explore examples of online courses
Reflect on their preparations to teach online
Group face-to-face workshop in computer lab
Synchronous online Adobe Connect session with
Access to a completely online course within
course management system (CMS) participants
Program’s resources provided within same CMS
Continuous one-on-one support with faculty
development specialist/instructional designer
Research Question #2
Do faculty experience changes in their previously
held assumptions and beliefs about teaching as
a result of learning to teach online and, if so, how
does transformative learning explain the
Reflective writing and/or talking about preparing to
teach online and teaching online opens up the
possibility for changes in previously held
assumptions and beliefs about teaching.
Reflective writing and/or talking about classroom
changes resulting from online teaching help
faculty become aware of changes in previously
held assumptions and beliefs about teaching.
Not aware of any changes
Metaphor: “lift rider”
cross high above the amusement
able to see different things
the “steady ride” that provided info
“it reinforced and strengthened this notion of
constantly evaluating what you do and the
impact on students”
Believed that one’s philosophy of teaching must
change to teach online
“Who am I inside of this new platform as a
teacher whose whole goal is to facilitate
Had experienced successes online and was
impressed with the work her students create
Have to pay attention to the differences in order
to be effective
Moved away from PowerPoint lectures
Used online discussion as starting point for in-
Considered in-class discussion more student-
Provided students with more ownership of
Expected student resistance
Expected online to be more time consuming
How rewarding it was
How students were more objective online
How their learning seemed broader and had a
greater impact on them
“If I don’t lecture about it, how will they learn it?”
Through online discussions, students were able
to make connections between:
Shared more personal aspects
of their life online than in class
Had been “more rigid, not willing, and reluctant to
try” anything new
Would have lesson plans set at beginning of
Now she was “more open and more flexible to
exploring and experimenting”
Moved away from lectures
Insights about student understanding gained
through online discussion used to determine what
happened in class
Research Question #3
What impact does learning to teach online have on
face-to-face teaching practices?
Impact on face-to-face teaching practices:
Rethinking what they did and why
Move from teacher-centered to student-centered
Less reliance on lecture
More flexible and open
A lack of time to engage in faculty professional
development, including reflective writing, can
create a barrier to change. Alternately, more time
to engage in preparations to teach online can
provide more opportunities for reflection.
Faculty can experience difficulties in putting their
teaching beliefs into practice in the classroom,
but online teaching provides them with new
The only real voyage of discovery. . . consists not in
seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. . .
~ Marcel Proust
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