VIU Online Education recognizes the pivotal role of the faculty in facilitating the online courses, and the dynamic technological environment in which distance education is delivered. Therefore, VIU offers many opportunities for professional development of online faculty.
All training sessions include detailed presentations along with hands-on activities that reinforce the learning of various aspects of the learning management system and the online instruction. The training sections have a double role: to present the platform, and initiate faculty in its use by applying best practices of instructional design, and as forums in which faculty members share their teaching experiences and bring new ideas to developing learning objects.
We prefer to solicit faculty with prior online facilitation experience and the academic credentials up to par with the general VIU faculty requirements. The hiring process described below ensures that the faculty is able to function in the online environment, and can both create and maintain course contents, as well as manage the online classroom.
Training Faculty to Teach Online
Faculty teaching in the Learning Management System currently being used at VIU, is provided with individual training sessions with the Dean of the School of Online Education or the Director of Online Education that are tailored to the specific needs of the instructor building the course.
As faculty starts building the course several months prior to the launch of the online course, the Director of Online Education observes the building process and communicates continuously with the course builders with suggestions and questions on the instructional design, thus assuring consistency in style, mechanics and expectations across all VIU online courseware. As the number of online course offerings, an online course for building online courses for the online instructors will be built, and passing this course will be another prerequisite to launching the online courseware. Based on observations, questions, and the goals of the course being built, the Dean of the School of Online Education or the Director of Online Education provides with training sessions, training webinars, and other resources in onboarding the facilitator to the specifics of the online classroom. These training are open to all online (and other) faculty, and as such serve as sources for continuous professional development of the online faculty. Communications are regularly passed on to online faculty summarizing opportunities for further professional development in instructional design and scholarship in the online classroom, for the convenience of the online faculty.
Online Faculty Development and Mentoring
In addition to all the opportunities VIU provides for its faculty, The Online Education Division of VIU is involved in efforts to onboard current online faculty, and ensure consistency in the style, look, feel, and structure in the VIU online campus. In addition to that, sound instructional practices are needed for the online classroom. VIU has started providing a weekly seminar on topics pertinent to the online classroom, in addition to the other forums available for information, training and peer-to-peer experience exchange. Online faculty is provided with freely available quality resources online for professional growth as online facilitators on regular basis.
Annually, or more often if there is a need, VIU offers technical training workshops for using the Learning Management System on which the courses online are delivered. A cohort of first time online faculty members teaching in one semester will be trained on the specifics of the LMS immediately after the start of the previous semester to provide them with guidance and orientation of the specifics of the LMS on which they will be building their course, in addition to the concept, structure, and features of the VIU Online Classroom.