Mentors for ThoseTeaching Online Courses

excerpts from  Learning From Online (Inside Higher Ed News) – December 7, 2009 

Since most professors have spent their lives holding forth from the front of a lecture hall, many have not had to engineer their lesson plans with the sort of rigor required of a well-designed online course, Buckenmeyer says.

When teaching online, she says, “You have to pay more attention to the navigation of the course, the clarity of the course, the objectives of the course, the reason why you’re assigning activities and assessments, [and make] certain everything is perfectly clear to the students. In a face-to-face situation, you can get by with just coming in and not having prepared and winging a class session. You can’t do that online.”

Or rather, you can’t do that online if you expect students to learn well. “You can develop a really bad online course,” says Buckenmeyer, without necessarily knowing it. In order to teach well online, she says, professors need guidance.

That was the thesis behind the creation of Calumet’s Distance Education Mentoring Project. The project takes faculty who are looking to adapt their classroom courses to the online environment and teams them up with Web-savvy colleagues. Those mentors advise the novices on best practices for online course design and oversee them through the first semester of the online version of the course.

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Sounds like a good idea.  To take it further, those faculty members who use technology well can be used as mentors to those who are not as tech savvy.

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