Exposing the Gaps: Novice to an Experienced Online Instructor

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

Do you remember what it was like when you first taught online?  Are you new to teaching online?  Both a novice and an experienced online instructor will expose the gaps by addressing the challenges, attitudes, knowledge base, and perspectives leading to an enhanced professional development opportunity.


Deborah Mixson-Brookshire, is a Professor of Management and Distance Learning Coordinator at Kennesaw State University. She has been an educator for over 18 years. Striving to create an innovative classroom experience for her students, she utilizes experiential education tools including distance learning to accomplish course outcomes. Deborah has published a variety of articles involving her experiential learning and distance learning research interest. Instructing and leading a variety of workshops, she is able to share her research and experiential pedagogical methods with others. She has also given international and national presentations sharing her passion for teaching and distance learning.
Natasha Lovelace Habers is the Assistant Chair of the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies at Kennesaw State University. She is an Associate Professor of Art with twelve years’ experience teaching within first-year programs and seventeen years’ experience teaching studio art. Her research interests focus on a variety of topics related to the enhancement of first-year student engagement and learning. Her current research explores the way technology, specifically the online learning environment, might be used to foster and/or enhance student creativity.

Extended Abstract

It is important to understand the potential impact faculty development has on quality online instruction. Understanding the needs of faculty regardless of where they are in their career is a component of a strategic plan outlay to promote quality online instruction. Whether you are a novice or experienced instructor teaching in the online environment, there is always room for improvement and growth. We decided to create a faculty mentoring program to enhance our online education. Pairing a novice and experienced online instructor with each other, we realized there were some gaps that needed to be addressed. Recent research has indicated some faculty are “more pessimistic than optimistic about online learning” (Allen, Seaman, Lederman, & Jaschik, 2012, p.2) so our approach to combatting the pessimistic attitude was to share knowledge with each other to gain additional insight to face challenges.

Our poster presentation will summarize our assessment of the challenges, attitudes, knowledge base, and perspectives from a novice to an experienced online instructor. We will also discuss our strategies and approaches for minimizing the gaps exposed through our assessment, thereby leading to enhanced quality online instruction. Furthermore, we will share our professional development plan that can be implemented at institutions or corporations.

As part of our poster presentation, we will address the challenges foreseen as well as the challenges encountered when teaching in an online course, and how to overcome them. We all have various approaches to teaching online, and many are highly effective. What makes them effective?  Taking time to reflect and gain feedback, gives one a new perspective on what is quality online instruction. We experienced this by having the mentee (experienced online instructor) and the mentor (novice online instructor)  begin the faculty development opportunity by each making a separate list of what they saw as their challenges, strategies, and perspectives relating to teaching in an online environment. We will share the compiled lists and show the gaps that many of us might overlook when planning faculty development opportunities. Sharing the lists will prompt interactive questions and audience contributions to gain additional insight into the challenges faced in an online environment. Filling in the gaps will provide continuity to online quality learning.

Additionally, we will provide a strategic plan covering the approaches to teaching online from both a beginning and experienced instructor. The faculty development plan will provide the participants with a basic model, training techniques, online rubrics, and possible engagement opportunities leading to quality instruction. Our presentation will also demonstrate the importance of engaging faculty at the beginning stage of teaching in an online environment through various training techniques, online community involvement, and mentoring. It is important to appreciate the various levels of experience teaching in an online environment because it allows us to gain different perspectives and insight. Utilizing your institution’s learning management system (LMS) is a great platform to engage faculty in training and online communities. Part of our presentation will be devoted to sharing our faculty/staff development LMS layout and workshop topics.

This professional development approach and strategic plan could also be utilized to enhance online education whether you are an instructional designer, administrator, or an experienced instructor on an international or national level because it provides insight into the span of growth in distance learning. This presentation will expose the participant(s) to a new approach and outlook on a spectrum from novice to experienced online instruction. Believing in the concept that there is always room for improvement, we can expand our professional development opportunities to ensure quality instruction for all learners.