Our online teaching blog is full of content and articles about online teaching best practices and online teaching careers.

Dr. Dani Babb and other experienced guest educators share their best tips, tricks and advice to start, succeed and grow your career as an online instructor.

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When training and developing new faculty, words like best practices, pedagogy/andragogy, student engagement, and retention are bandied about quite a bit. While these things are important and certainly need to be addressed, I find new faculty also need to know more practical aspects of what it means to teach for any given college or university. No matter the subject matter taught, navigating various collegiate landscapes can become difficult and confusing, especially when adjuncting at a variety of institutions. So, what do new faculty need to know during this time of adjustment?

Once upon a time, smart people would go to college and work hard.  They would get their Bachelor’s degree in a cost effective way, and then the better ones would go on and get advanced degrees.  The best would then get their PhD’s and go on to long and fruitful career as professors, protected by the Ivory Tower from the time they entered college until retirement in their mid-sixties with a full pension, all needs ultimately taken care of by academia.  And there were sparkly unicorns bringing buckets of gold from research grants, and leprechauns would grade all the tests in the middle of the night.

So, now it has come to the dreaded D word (dissertation) of your doctoral degree, and you have started to lose sleep, procrastinate and lose your hair. Don’t worry, you are not alone. When I first started my dissertation I felt like I needed some intense therapy, because I had no idea what I was doing and had no clue of how I was even going to get to the end point. Up until that point in my academic tenure, I had always just read the directions to an assignment, completed the assignment, turned it in, and was done. I really did not give it another thought, because I knew after that point I would not have to mess with it anymore. Well… you see, the dissertation is quite the opposite and unfortunately it took me a while to realize this. The moment that I had this epiphany was when I titled a document for my chair to review as Revision_24_Chair_Review. At that point, I took a new approach and began to churn away at this beast of a document. Below, is a list of helpful advice that I wish I would have had from the beginning in order to accomplish this beast that you will hopefully see in a Google Scholar search one day.

Being a student can be a very lonely ordeal. We are used to being constantly connected to our family, friends, and co-workers, either physically or virtually. However, when we find ourselves staring at our monitor hoping that some brilliant thoughts will start popping in to our head so we can get past the first sentence of our term paper, we start to feel alone and disconnected from our usual support network. This is one of the most difficult challenges with being a student today, especially when taking online courses.

To many online students, the instructor is simply a person on the other side of the computer screen who they never see. The instructor grades the discussion posts, essays, and responds to student emails. It is rare the student and instructor speak on the phone and even more rare they ever see each other in person. Therefore, the lack of human interaction can become lost. As online instructor’s, it is necessary we show our human side in the classroom. Not only through being enthusiastic with the subject matter but showing our personal side as well.

Most of us have been subject to one. Many of us have performed one. All of us want to improve and act upon it. It’s the classroom observation. The classroom observation tool is rooted in educational reform and the musings of such thinkers as Frederick Taylor and Edward Thorndike. This scientific view of measuring teaching has survived decades of thought-leadership and, if executed well, can be a formative tool for teaching development and improvement. One should note that I deliberately used the word “formative” in that last sentence. As an administrator we should be viewing the action of performing an observation just like we do when we administer a formative assessment to a student—with the goal of assessing and improving teaching mastery. I am not advocating that

Today’s educational climate is a hot one with institutions of all types vying to enroll the highest number of students. Cutting edge programs, ones that will almost guarantee students careers after graduation, are being developed at a rapid rate. Innovative marketing draws attention to these programs along with the institutions themselves as they desperately try to keep up with the academic Joneses. The competition is fierce, that is certain, and those of us in higher education know we cannot forsake quality for quantity. How do we keep enrollment up while also adhering to high educational standards? One answer we’ve found at the small, liberal arts college where I work is the implementation of flex courses.