If schools decide not to insist that faculty members produce their own online courses, for the many cogent reasons we’ve set forth in previous posts, then deans may ask, “What will I do with my faculty members?”
The answer to this question is let them teach.
Yes, faculty members should teach. They should teach well. They should be assisted in learning how to teach well. They should teach well in the class room, online, and in blended courses.
Teaching is very important. Good teaching is the mechanism via which most students learn. Many schools stress the interaction of faculty with students as the core of their education process. For the core to have value, faculty members should focus on the teaching process broadly understood–not just lecturing but the various forms of interaction with faculty members by which students learn.
Good teaching is not intuitive to many faculty members. There is much that can be learned about it, including
- · how to craft engaging lectures,
- · how to stimulate student learning with case discussions,
- · how to use the Socratic method of intellectual give and take,
- · how to provide special help to students who need it,
- · how to craft good exams,
- · how to grade exams accurately,
- · how to give useful feedback,
- · how to assign grades properly,
- · how to use grades to motivate student effort,
- · how to allocate time and effort among three objectives:
– to move the majority of a class forward in mastery of the content of a course;
– how to assist the weaker learners in the class to catch up to the others; and
– how to assist those who master material quickly to push forward to accomplish all that they can in learning the material.
The final challenge in the list above is especially significant today. Social concern and commentary is focused on the weaker learners and assisting them to improve their performance. A secondary social concern is with the average student who seems to be falling behind those in other nations. But the economic progress of the nation is a consequence of the technological and leadership achievements of the best learners. The challenge to instructors in how to allocate time and effort among these varied groups is of great importance. Instructors freed of administrative expectations that they should be developing their own online courses – a very difficult and time-consuming task – may devote their efforts to assisting each of the three groups of students of which their classes consist – for each of the three groups requires a very different approach from an instructor.
Schools that take good teaching seriously provide support for instructors in the various elements of teaching and engage them in a continuing dialogue about how to improve teaching effectiveness.
Teaching effectiveness is central to the success of most schools. It requires that instructors teach well. It does not require that instructors create their own textbooks; nor does it require that instructors create their own online courses – a task which is more daunting than writing traditional textbooks.
Most schools should focus on teaching quality and student learning and acquire traditional textbooks and online courses elsewhere.