Face-zine the Future: Moving to online teaching

Grant type: Themed funding: Teacher Educators for the 21st Century
Round: Teacher Educators for the 21st Century
Amount awarded £14,981.00
Completed: September 2011
Leader(s): Dr Pamela Cowan
Organisation: Queen's University, Belfast
Contact Email: p.cowan@qub.ac.uk
Contact phone: 028 9097 5931
Dr Eileen Winter
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Education, Queen's University Belfast
Dr Pamela Cowan
Lecturer, School of Education, Queen's University Belfast
Reverend Professor Peter Neil
Head of School of Education, University of the West of Scotland
Start Date: 1 March 2010
End Date: 30 September 2011
Interim report received: 22 December 2010
Final report received: 13 September 2011

The purpose of this project was to examine the role of the teacher educator who was teaching online.  Although modern technologies are advancing rapidly, often the tutors’ online pedagogical practices are struggling to keep apace.  Tutors need to be willing to make the change to online teaching but require high quality training and support to do this successfully.  Much of the training for preparing tutors to teach online has focused on the use of technology as little is known about how best to prepare tutors to teach in an online environmentBy investigating the strategies adopted by current online teacher educators who have successfully made the transition from face-to-face (F2F) to the online environment, the specific skills of online tutors, who are also teacher educators, can be determined. Using an online survey followed by in-depth interviews with teacher educators in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland the research team probed tutors about their ‘lived’ experiences of online teaching.

The teacher educators had experienced varying levels of training prior to teaching online, most of which focused on the technical aspects of course design and delivery rather than on the pedagogy.  Generally tutors felt confident with the online environment as it had more similarities to the F2F context than differences.  High levels of commitment, interpersonal skills and knowledge of pedagogical strategies were crucial to tutors’ ability to teach effectively in the online environment.

The implications for teaching online based on the findings of this project are that preparedness to teach online is key to success and a thorough knowledge of pedagogy is essential.  Reflection for CPD is a valuable quality in online tutors and characteristics of innovateness and awareness of the role of assessment online are areas of developmental needs for online tutors.  These teacher educators identified a number of tips for online teaching, most of which have come from their personal experiences mainly as online tutors but also as online learners themselves.  These hints can be found on our E-zine which is available online.