Professional Development Strategies

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Professional Development Strategies

Contents

Module Summary

The skill sets necessary for effective teaching and learning online are constantly changing. This means that professional development should be a constant feature of the professional life of faculty and staff (once the right individuals have been hired for the tasks). In times of budgetary constraints, it may be difficult to schedule in regular trainings. This module will identify some potential areas for professional development for those teaching and learning online, and it will offer some relatively low-cost approaches.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • Consider areas of potential professional development.
  • Create a personalized professional development plan by identifying gaps in their teaching and learning skill set and personal and professional interests.
  • Consider the importance of working in a virtual and real professional community.
  • List a number of professional development resources available online and in real spaces.
  • Identify various sources of open-source digital resources and learning objects for possible use in their online teaching and learning.

Module Pretest

1. What are some areas of potential professional development for those who teach and learn online?

2. What should faculty members consider in creating a personalized professional development plan? What is a gaps analysis? What personal and professional interests should be considered?

3. Why is it important to work in a virtual and real professional community? What sorts of professional and collegial support may online faculty members offer to each other?

4. What are some professional development resources available online and in real spaces?

5. What are open-source resources that may be used for online teaching and learning?

Main Contents

1. Areas of Professional Development

In general, there are a few basic areas of professional development for online teaching and learning:

  • Online pedagogical strategies
  • Technologies (multimedia development; equipment and software; online tools, and others)
  • Online resources (both open-source and proprietary)

More specifically, there may be particular types of knowledge and skills specific to the online teaching and learning in a particular domain field (such as biology, engineering, acting, English, filmmaking, or other fields).


2. Creating a Personalized Professional Development Plan

Faculty members who teach online approach this task with a range of teaching experiences and experiences with multimedia and online resources and spaces. What this means is that the professional development strategies will vary for each. Also, the domain-field requirements for each teaching and learning context will differ. This means that there will be fairly high variance in terms of defining effective professional development strategies.

Some questions to ask in developing a personalized personal development plan may include the following:

  • What sorts of feedback am I getting from my online students?
  • What suggestions is my supervisor making about my teaching? the online learning resources?
  • Are there ways that I get better engage and serve my online students?
  • Where am I coming up short in terms of online teaching and learning? Digital content development?
  • What are some things that I wish I could do professionally?
  • In online teaching and learning projects, where am I coming up short? What should I be able to do in-house instead of paying for other outside work (if I can do it at the same quality)?
  • What new knowledge sets and skills would look good on my CV and resume?
  • What are my personal and professional interests in terms of pedagogy? technologies? resources? What would be “fun” to pursue?

Write down your answers.

Then check out the environment and the resources below to see what might be of interest to you to pursue.


3. Building a Virtual and Real Professional Community

Those faculty who teach online may sometimes feel a little isolated, particularly if they do not often visit their colleagues on the physical campus. There are a number of ways that professionals who teach online maintain connections with others.

One way is through electronic mailing lists (known as “listservs”). There are some active professional lists that help professionals connect. Some of these are regional ones, and others are national, and some are even international.

Social networking sites (such as Facebook and Google Plus) may offer professional sub-groups that individuals may join. Immersive virtual worlds may also offer educational communities (like Second Life, with its Second Life Education Wiki).

Then, too, there are wikis for information exchange. (This E-Learning Faculty Modules is an example of a training and sharing wiki.)

It helps to explore the various communities before joining. Each community will entail some measure of responsibility and effort. Before starting numerous accounts which are not supportable, it’s a good idea to research what level of commitment may be involved.


4. Professional Development Resources

Online

  • Webinars
  • Online conferences with digital poster sessions
  • Panel sessions
  • Podcasts
  • Professional journals

Real Spaces

  • Real-world conferences

(Please see below in the References and Resources areas for specifics.)


5. Open-Source Resources

  • Repositories
  • Referatories
  • Video sharing sites
  • Image sharing sites
  • Digital learning object sharing sites (repositories and referatories)
  • Some US-government-run sites

(Please see below in the References and Resources areas for specifics.)

Examples

(Please see the Resources section below for a range of professional development possibilities.)

How To

1. Spend some time reflecting on a gaps analysis in terms of your skills in online teaching. Consider your own interests in self-development in this area.

2. Build a specific and reasonable plan for closing the skills gap. Build in some fun learning, too.

3. Register for online webinars. Register for various events—once you have these approved by your supervisor.

4. Follow through on your professional development.

5. Record your new learning. Strive to apply your new learning in practical ways.

6. Make new professional contacts with your colleagues from around the world.

7. Use the Faculty Share area in the E-Learning Faculty Modules to share your ideas. Peruse the ideas there to see what others are doing and thinking about.

8. Check out ELATEwiki, too, as a space for learning more and contributing.

Possible Pitfalls

There are no identifiable pitfalls to professional development. The challenge, though, is getting official resources to cover such endeavors. One option is to use personal resources to attend conferences, and there may be tax write-offs possible (check with your accountant).

There are also benefits to being open to other professional development opportunities that one may not have considered...that are suggested by administrators and colleagues.

Module Post-Test

1. What are some areas of potential professional development for those who teach and learn online?

2. What should faculty members consider in creating a personalized professional development plan? What is a gaps analysis? What personal and professional interests should be considered?

3. Why is it important to work in a virtual and real professional community? What sorts of professional and collegial support may online faculty members offer to each other?

4. What are some professional development resources available online and in real spaces?

5. What are open-source resources that may be used for online teaching and learning?

References

Tuition Waivers

Staff members at K-State may be eligible for tuition waivers for a certain number of credits each term. They should check with their human resources personnel to find out the terms of this employment benefit.

Open-Source Learning Resources

Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) Learning Object Referatory

Wikipedia

Wikimedia Commons

Flickr Creative Commons

Creative Commons Search

Proprietary Space / Open-Source Contents

SoftChalk CONNECT (commercial)

SoftChalk Cloud

Extra Resources

E-Learning Conferences

Educause 2012 Annual Conference

[http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/ 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning] (Madison, Wisconsin]

The E-Learning Guild

The Society for Applied Learning Technology (twice annually)

Local E-Learning Conferences in Kansas (and Missouri)

Colleague-to-Colleague

CHECK Conference (Conference on Higher Education Computing in Kansas) (rotating URL depending on the host campus)

(Note: There are other conferences that are specific to a particular domain field that may attract faculty interest.)

Electronic Mailing Lists

The Distance Education Online Symposium (DEOS) / Penn State

Some Free Webinars

Blackboard Webinars

Adobe Webinars / Online Events

SoftChalk Innovators in Online Learning


Software Security Podcasts

The Silver Bullet Security Podcast (Cigital and IEEE)


Online Publications

Educause Review Online

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (of MERLOT)

E-Learning and Teaching Exchange (ELATEwiki)


Knowledge Spaces

DEHub (Database of Research on Distance Education)


Online Lectures

Khan Academy