Faculty training is your introduction to the college or university you will be teaching for. If this is your first time teaching for an online school or your fifth faculty training, remember that training is a necessity. The training helps you understand the school’s expectations and become familiar with their Learning Management System (i.e. Blackboard). Training will help you become more comfortable navigating the classroom in terms of posting announcements, sending messages, interacting in the discussion boards, and grading assignments.
Faculty training is usually asynchronous. This means the training work is delivered via message boards and email in the course room. One of the advantages of faculty training is you become the student. You learn how the student navigates the classroom as well as how you, the faculty member, navigate the course.
Some colleges or universities have self-paced training. This means you complete the training at your own leisure. One of the school’s I teach for trained faculty this way. I had two weeks to complete the training, which meant responding to discussion posts of other faculty trainees and watching videos and taking quizzes. The advantage of this training was I could take my time. I could do as little or as much work I wanted in a day.
The second school I worked for required trainees to participate in a four-week faculty training. During this training, I was the “student” along with nine other trainees. Each week we were required to respond to a discussion board question and post at least two participation posts to our peers . We had a separate classroom, which was called the sandbox. The sandbox was our mock course room. What we learned in training we applied to the sandbox. This required us to post announcements, discussion threads, setup the grade book, and grade assignments.
Suggestions for Successful Training
Take your faculty training seriously. This is a great way to show off your skills, learn about the school, and become familiar with the classroom. This is also a great networking opportunity to get to know your fellow colleagues. From my experience, it is beneficial to have a colleague you can bounce ideas off of when you teach. Online teaching can become isolating so the more communication you have with your peers, the more involved with the school you will feel.
Print documents or make a folder on your computer. I like to do both. Training usually offers setup guides and helpful tips. It is useful to save these when you begin teaching, especially when you setup your classroom. Most schools provide classroom setup checklists so you know exactly what is expected of you. Save these documents to help you organize and make setup a breeze.
Take notes. Nowadays I know many people may not have a pen and pad next to their desk but I do. I find it easier to remember certain details when I jot things down and keep everything together.
Ask questions. Do not hesitate to reach out to your instructor during training. The trainer is there to help you succeed. After all, you made it through the interview process so training is a big deal!
Have fun. Take this opportunity to view training as a learning experience and getting to know your peers. One of the schools I trained for had a scavenger hunt assignment. This consisted of 10 multiple choice questions about the university. The assignment required trainees to navigate the school website to find the answers. From my perspective, this was a smart and brilliant way to teach trainees about the university. Reading about the history of the school, their accreditation, and the university objectives allowed me to become more excited about working there. I felt like I really knew about the school I work for and that I belonged. In my years of experience teaching online, I was never taught about the school I worked for. Yes, I could easily look it up myself but there were areas in the scavenger hunt I never would have thought to research.
Using Your Training Skills to Teach
When I began setting up my classroom I became overwhelmed. Training had ended and I thought I knew everything I needed to know. In some circumstances you may not teach your first class until months after training ends. Therefore, you may need to refresh your memory. This is a good time to read those notes you took and the documents you saved. Give yourself a refresher course then take a deep breath and remind yourself that they hired you for a reason. You can do this! As the weeks progress, you will become more comfortable in the classroom interacting with your students and your notes will be put to the side. Soon you will realize that the faculty training has made you become the best online instructor you can be.
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About the Author
Dorothy A. Miraglia, PhD earned her B.S. in music and sociology from Adelphi University (2004). She attended Hofstra University (2006) earning her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and earned a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Phoenix (2011). Dr. Miraglia graduated with distinction from Capella University (2014) earning her PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior.
Her dissertation is titled, The experiences of adult women ages 30-44 who log on to Facebook daily using their smartphone: A generic qualitative study. After graduation, Dr. Miraglia co-edited a book with dissertation mentor, Dr. Stephanie L. Brooke, titled, The Use of the Creative Therapies to Cope with Grief and Loss.
Currently, Dr. Miraglia is lead editor on her second book with Dr. Brooke titled, Breaking the chains of Violence and Bullying Through the Creative Arts Therapies.
Dr. Miraglia has over five years of online teaching experience and currently teaches humanities and psychology courses.