Post-secondary faculty members around the world reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly shifting their in-person classes to alternate, online delivery. The quick reaction allowed students to complete the final weeks of their winter semesters and successfully meet their academic goals. But now what?
With spring and summer semesters just around the corner and no sign of an end to the uncertainty of the pandemic, the next step is to begin to learn how to facilitate online learning effectively and efficiently in a deliberate way, not simply as an emergency response. To help this transition, Lethbridge College has adapted its Facilitating Online Learning course to the new academic reality and has made it available for free to all post-secondary institutions and faculty members.
“We wanted to do our part to contribute to the collaborative effort taking place across the country to ensure all students still have access to meaningful learning experiences wherever they may be,” says Jackie Doherty, Dean of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. “Providing instructors with some tools and strategies to make that happen was something we could do right away, and it made sense to offer it to the entire post-secondary sector.”
The course is ideal for faculty members who will be teaching in a fully online environment for the first time as well as for those looking to brush up on their online facilitation skills. Facilitating Online Learning balances theory and practice over three modules. In just six to 10 hours, faculty members can learn practical strategies and begin to explore the challenging issue of online student retention. Participants will also have opportunities to share resources and learn from the experiences of fellow educators.
This course was originally created as professional development for Lethbridge College’s online instructors, but it has now been adapted to support the massive shift of post-secondary education to the online environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A notable aspect of the course is the attention given to the issue of online student retention,” says Andy Benoit, Educational Development specialist. “For instructors wondering about actions they can take to promote student persistence, the course shares many useful strategies.”
Facilitating Online Learning is a free open course, and all related course materials are available for other institutions to reuse and remix under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.
The course is available online to all post-secondary institutions and faculty members until June 30. It is also available through Canvas Commons for institutions using the Canvas Learning Management System. A PDF or Word document version is also available. More information can be found online.