Faculty Training and Support: Bridging the Gap Between In-Person and Online Teaching

Faculty Training and Support: Bridging the Gap Between In-Person and Online Teaching

Student using laptop having online class with teacher

As higher education continually evolves, the pivotal role of faculty in student success remains a constant. The expansion of online offerings comes with what is often an entirely new skillset for faculty—the ability to translate their expertise from an in-classroom teaching style to an online modality. This requires faculty to not only remain current in their area of academic expertise, but also to learn new technology, participate in online course planning and development and find new ways to engage students. But there are many ways schools can make the transition from in-person to online teaching not just easier for faculty, but enriching to their overall approach to teaching and interacting with students.

Below, we highlight why it’s important for higher education intuitions to prioritize faculty training and support in online education, explore some of the challenges faculty face in online teaching and provide strategies to empower faculty to succeed.

Faculty: A Crucial Component for Student Success

Faculty expertise and guidance has a profound effect on students’ academic journeys. Through mentorship, personalized feedback, and expert instruction, faculty not only impart knowledge but also inspire critical thinking, creativity and intellectual curiosity in students. Thus, investing in faculty development and support is essential for cultivating an enriching educational experience that enables students to thrive academically and graduate.

Challenges Faculty Face in Online Teaching

The transition from traditional to online or hybrid modalities can present a myriad of challenges for faculty. Often, these challenges include:

  • Adaptation of teaching strategies: Shifting from the in-person classroom to an online format requires faculty to rethink their teaching strategies. They may need to adjust how they deliver academic content, engage students and assess learning outcomes. This could mean learning new tools and techniques for online instruction, as well as incorporating multimedia, interactive activities and asynchronous learning modules.
  • Technology proficiencies: Faculty members may face challenges in using online learning platforms and tools. This includes learning how to use learning management systems, video conferencing software, and other digital tools and resources, as well as how to set up and manage virtual classrooms.
  • Student engagement and interaction: Student engagement is vital to student success, but maintaining and fostering engagement in an online classroom can be challenging for faculty who are accustomed to in-person teaching. When teaching online, faculty need to find innovative ways to foster interaction, collaboration and active participation among students. This can include using breakout rooms, discussion forums, peer review and virtual group projects.
  • Equity and access: Ensuring equitable access to online resources and opportunities for all students can be a challenge, especially in contexts where students may have limited internet connectivity or access to technology. Faculty need to consider how to accommodate diverse learning needs and provide alternative arrangements for students facing barriers to online learning.
  • Workload management: Transitioning to online teaching can increase the workload for faculty, particularly in the initial stages as they develop new course materials, adapt assessments and provide additional support to students. Balancing the demands of online teaching with other professional responsibilities and research endeavors can be challenging.

Fortunately, with the right technology, training, and support, these challenges are easily overcome, especially as faculty become more familiar with online teaching over time.

5 Ways to Empower Faculty to Succeed Online

There are a variety of approaches schools can adopt to provide comprehensive training and support for faculty in their online teaching journey. From tailored learning management system training to professional development workshops, some of the resources universities can deploy to support faculty success include:

  1. Online training modules: Develop self-paced online training modules or courses that cover various aspects of online teaching, such as creating engaging multimedia content, facilitating online discussions and assessing student learning. These modules can be accessible anytime, anywhere, allowing faculty to learn at their own pace.
  2. Professional development workshops: Organize regular workshops focusing on online teaching methodologies, instructional design principles and technological tools. These sessions can be led by experienced online instructors or instructional designers who can share best practices and innovative strategies.
  3. Peer mentoring and collaboration: Establish peer mentoring programs where experienced online instructors can mentor and support their colleagues who are new to online teaching. Encouraging collaboration through communities of practice or faculty learning communities can also foster the sharing of ideas, resources and experiences among faculty members.
  4. Access to instructional design support: Provide faculty with access to instructional designers or educational technologists who can offer personalized support and guidance in designing and implementing online courses. These experts can assist faculty in integrating technology effectively, designing interactive learning activities, and ensuring accessibility and inclusivity in online teaching.
  5. Feedback and evaluation mechanisms: Implement feedback and evaluation mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of faculty training initiatives and to gather input from faculty on their training needs. Regular feedback surveys, focus groups, and course evaluations can help identify areas for improvement and inform future training efforts.

By implementing these strategies, universities can better support faculty in developing the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to excel in online teaching.

Investing in Faculty for Successful Online Programs

For online programs to succeed, faculty need to be well-prepared and supported in navigating online teaching. By providing ongoing training and support for educators, colleges and universities can fortify their online offerings and enhance student outcomes. Schools that invest in faculty growth and professional development not only bolster their online programs but also cultivate a culture of innovation and excellence in teaching and learning.

Does your college or university need extra faculty support or instructional design for online programs? Learn how Everspring can help.