Introduction to Teaching Online
Introduction to Teaching Online
For over 25 years NJIT faculty have been offering distance learning courses to students. During that time, the tools and technology used to teach online have changed significantly improving the online experience for faculty and students. As the technology becomes more familiar it also becomes incorporated into face-to-face courses, making it an important tool for facilitating the learning process. Similarly, an increasing number of students and employers are looking at distance learning as a legitimate way to pursue an education.
Some students find that online courses are the only way they can pursue an education given their professional commitments. For other students, English may not be their primary language and they find that they benefit from having the opportunity to read and review the material at their own pace. Some find that online learning is better aligned with their preferred learning styles. Others are simply unable to come to campus because they live outside of New Jersey (and sometimes even the country).
Just as we know there are a lot of reasons that students choose to take a distance learning courses, there are also a lot of reasons why faculty find themselves teaching online. Some faculty decide to teach online because they prefer the online environment helping to facilitate online discussions, getting to know their students via electronic communication, not being constrained by the traditional classroom model. Others prefer the flexibility - the ability to travel for research (so long as there is an internet connection you don’t have to worry about missing class). Finally, we also know that some instructors teach online out of necessity, for example if your department offers an online program you may need to teach one of your courses online to complete that offering.
While the traditional brick and mortar schools will never be replaced by online institutions, it is important to acknowledge that online learning is being embraced by an increasing number of colleges. Offering online degree or certification programs is a way that departments can remain competitive. There are a number of colleges that are actively marketing their online programs to potential students. Consequently, those online programs can attract students who might otherwise attend a local school.
Regardless of why the decision has been made to teach online, Instructional Technology and Media Services (ITMS) is available to provide support to you as needed. One of our goals is to help you make a successful and relatively pain-free transition to the online environment. One of the best ways to do so it to make sure that your students are presented with high-quality instructional materials, that you make efficient use of the online environment and that your students are aware of what is expected of them to be successful.
Over 20 years of producing distance learning (DL) courses has shown us that there are a number of pre-requisites for succeeding in this endeavor. Generally the most important requirements are that the instructor has:
- taught the course, face-to-face for at least one semester,
- previously TAKEN a course or workshop on-line,
- attended Teaching, Learning and Technology workshops; and
- the vast majority of course support materials in a digital format such as PowerPoint (this will be cover in greater depth).