Tips From the Pros: Advice on Helping Faculty Bring Their Courses Online

Instructional designers play a critical role in helping faculty members move their courses to the online environment. However, it’s important to respect each faculty member’s academic freedom.

“A lot of [people] think they can change the course, but developing the course is the faculty’s responsibility,” says Laurie Hillstock, director of distance learning and education instructor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She notes that some instructors have the experience of sharing a course with a distance education consultant or instructional designer, only to have the course come back completely changed. This is not the way to earn an instructor’s trust and helps explain why some instructors are apprehensive about making this transition.

Hillstock also notes that the first iteration of an online course is not the end of the design process. Faculty may not have the resources or experience to get the course exactly they would like the first time around. Or they may not know beforehand how well the course will serve your course content or students.

Rather than trying to get everything perfect at the outset Hillstock recommends an incremental approach and to celebrate small successes. To that end, she recommends starting meetings by asking faculty members what’s going well in their courses. It’s a great way to break the ice with a celebration of success, and it’s a great way to share ideas that can be adopted in other contexts.

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Instructional designers play a critical role in helping faculty members move their courses to the online environment. However, it's important to respect each faculty member's academic freedom.

“A lot of [people] think they can change the course, but developing the course is the faculty's responsibility,” says Laurie Hillstock, director of distance learning and education instructor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She notes that some instructors have the experience of sharing a course with a distance education consultant or instructional designer, only to have the course come back completely changed. This is not the way to earn an instructor's trust and helps explain why some instructors are apprehensive about making this transition.

Hillstock also notes that the first iteration of an online course is not the end of the design process. Faculty may not have the resources or experience to get the course exactly they would like the first time around. Or they may not know beforehand how well the course will serve your course content or students.

Rather than trying to get everything perfect at the outset Hillstock recommends an incremental approach and to celebrate small successes. To that end, she recommends starting meetings by asking faculty members what's going well in their courses. It's a great way to break the ice with a celebration of success, and it's a great way to share ideas that can be adopted in other contexts.