Professional Development | News

Program Aims To Help Faculty Master Online Instruction

Pearson has introduced a new service targeted at K-12 schools and colleges and universities that want to help their instructors develop skills for teaching online. The company's new Professional Online Educator currently offers eight courses on the topic of online instruction. The program can be loaded into a school's learning management system or accessed on a Pearson-hosted site. It's currently be piloted in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and is expected to be available beginning in January 2011.

Courses feature media-rich presentations, discussion forums, and performance-based assessments. The first round of classes includes:

  • "Introduction to Online Learning," an overview of the learning environment--terminology, tools, and skills needed--from the instructor's point of view.
  • "Instructor Technology Preparation," covering various technologies that enable students to gather information, solve problems, and use critical thinking skills online.
  • "Instructional Design for Online Learning," emphasizing models, methodologies, learning styles, learning communities, and diversity in student learning.
  • "Promoting Student Success in the Online Learning Environment," the basic tools needed for student success in an online learning environment, including communication, collaboration, and software skills.
  • "Assessing Knowledge and Skills in the Online Learning Environment," approaches that evaluate student knowledge and skills.
  • "Beyond the Online Classroom," performance tools and support available to instructors and students through technology for continued professional development and maintaining a professional online presence.
  • "Online Teaching Internship. " Using an existing online course, students will demonstrate what they've learned through the program; they'll also develop an e-portfolio to highlight their professional achievements.
  • "Course Design/Project Practicum." Students will develop the supporting materials for an online course.

"Pearson has provided an innovative and effective means for our online faculty to learn and teach online with the Professional Online Educator program," said Tammy Hall, director of Academic Services for the Louisiana college system that's piloting the program. "The courses are well designed and enable us to teach our faculty how to create stimulating online delivery of timely and appropriate content, modeling positive online teaching practices while also working to develop a strong community of leaders." In 2009 Pearson worked with the system to launch a new online learning program called LCTCSOnline. That program saw an increase in its online enrollment of 43 percent from spring 2009 to spring 2010, representing a total enrollment of 424.

Pearson said its target audience for the new courses will be schools that want to outsource training of existing faculty as they grow their Web-based programs, as well as freelancers looking to bolster their résumés as they apply for adjunct gigs. Pearson is also hoping to team up with one or more accredited graduate programs to offer the courses as part of a degree or certificate in online teaching. The company expects half of its market to come from institutions of higher education, but K-12 is also being targeted, as well as corporate training organizations.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.