When the OLC asked me to write a blog post about the Online Teaching Certificate Program (OTC) Foundation course, my first thought was, “Oh! I love that course! That would be fun!” A week later, I’m still grappling with what I want to say, because as I’ve reflected on the experience with an eye toward writing about why the opportunity is valuable and important, I’ve surfaced more than I thought I would in regard to what my experience as an instructor in the Institute has meant to me.
For those unfamiliar, OTC is a certificate program offered by the amazing OLC Institute for Professional Development. The program is designed to allow for revision of existing courses or creating one from scratch, learning new methods, connecting with new people, and exploring new ideas in a risk-free, creative environment.
I first taught the OTC, Foundation course two years ago, and it was a transformative experience in my career and how I think about online education. I am thankful to have had amazing mentors like Dr. Ann Musgrove and Dr. Angela Gibson who showed me the true importance of coaching as a teaching strategy and helping me understand the challenges of teaching how to teach online, online. I had taught online a number of times before, but to teach online teaching in an online modality – wow! The 20 or so students I had in that first cohort remain some of my biggest instructional influences to this day. As a learning designer for many years, I think it can be really easy to look at data and best practices and think “oh, this is the right way to do it and we should all do it this way.” But here’s the thing: maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t.
One of the most valuable experiences of the OTC program is to come together with different people from different roles in different institutions. You’ll see a mix of faculty, learning designers, graduate students – all with different lived experiences and different ideas about how things can be. I think of it as “co-imagining.” It’s easy to look at a syllabus, or discussion forums and simply answer the questions as they’re asked. But what if we made those discussion forums work for us? What if we asked our instructors for what we need beyond what they’ve provided. I’ve always tried to be that instructor, and have found that the OLC Institute has not only supported, but also encouraged it.
To wrap it up, I want to encourage you like they’ve encouraged me. If you’re looking to improve an existing course or create one from scratch, brush up on some online teaching strategies – meet some new people, or spend some time imagining ideal outcomes and ways to get there – join us this fall for the OLC Online Teaching Certificate Program!
Dr. Jessica Knott
When she’s not wrangling, (or being wrangled by) her two rescue dogs, Jessica is the Learning Design Manager for MSU IT and the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology at Michigan State University. She guides a team that helps faculty, staff, and academic programs effectively integrate technology into their teaching and research through consultations, demonstrations, workshops, and hands-on development. She has worked in information technology since 1998, spanning the private and academic sectors. Jessica lives in Lansing with her pretty amazing partner Ryan and has spent more perfectly good hours playing Fallout 4 than she’s comfortable admitting in polite company. Video games aside, she loves thinking, reading, volunteering, longboarding, uke-ing and travel.