Online Teaching: New Skills for CIT’s Bass Online Apprentices

For the past 10 years, online learning has experienced consistent growth in the U.S. with the number of online students reaching 6.7 million in 2012 (Babson Research Group 2012 Survey of Online Learning). The rapid growth in online education, combined with new teaching models (such as MOOCs), and emerging instructional technologies is transforming the landscape of teaching and learning.

Recognizing the need to help students become knowledgeable in online college teaching, the Graduate School’s Bass Undergraduate Instructional Program, for PhD students, offers fellowships for Bass Online Apprentices (Bass OAs).  Dr. Hugh Crumley, Director of the Certificate in College Teaching, partnered with The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) to provide online teaching and course development experience for Bass OAs.

Adrian Down, Ph.D. candidate in Ecology at Duke University, is a summer Bass OA with CIT, working with Dr. Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel on her course “Data Analysis and Statistical Inference.”

Adrian explains why he decided to become a Bass OA:

Adrian Down

“I was interested in becoming a Bass OA because the field of online education is growing so rapidly.  Having experience with online education is a valuable skill set in many environments.  I’ve had several job interviews since joining the OA program, not all for academic teaching positions, and all of them have mentioned the online teaching experience.  It’s a skill set that is in demand and transferable across disciplines and professions.”

Adrian explains his role as helping to prepare the course by getting materials ready for  students and choosing a platform to deliver the course. Adrian has also migrated Dr. Rundel’s materials from her MOOC to a format that can be used later in the course.  He’s also responsible for preparing materials and having them ready for the students each week, including lab assignments and evaluations.

What has impressed Adrian about the use of instructional technology in teaching and learning?

“Technology can be a big help or a hindrance to the students, and we try to choose our technological platforms carefully to maximize the students’ learning experience.  We have to knit together many different tools (Sakai, Piazza, YouTube, Webex, RStudio, and others) to deliver all the content to the students, and keeping track of all of those resources, and coordinating them effectively can be a challenge.”

As Adrian is actively learning a new skill set for his future career, he is most surprised at the level of engagement made possible with online teaching.

“I don’t think online teaching is “inferior” to classroom instruction, it’s just different.  In a well-designed course, the instructor can actually have more contact with the student and can more precisely monitor students’ learning progress.  Effective online teaching can take more investment from the instructor, both in terms of course design and in adapting to new and rapidly developing technological platforms, but the rewards can be great for students.”

The Bass OA apprenticeship with CIT provides participants valuable insights into innovative teaching practices by working with Duke faculty, and gives apprentices a “behind-the-scenes” look at the work required to design an engaging online learning experience for Duke students. CIT is pleased to offer this apprenticeship, and for the Bass OAs, it’s an exciting time to prepare for online college teaching!

Read more about the Bass Online Apprenticeship with CIT:

Bass Online Apprentices Share the MOOC Student Experience

Preparing Future Faculty for Online College Teaching

Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Author: Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Sophia collaborates with faculty to provide pedagogical and academic technology consulting, training, and project management, for campus-based and online initiatives. She consults on innovative teaching practices across academic disciplines, and works with faculty on course planning, course design and development, and assessment strategies. Her research interests include global online education, instructional design, faculty development, distance education, and international learners.