Insights from the Field: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone with the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate


Dr. Donna E. Scribner & Kaitlin Garrett

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week, Dr. Donna Scribner, OLC Institute faculty for the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate, joins us to discuss the redesign of the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate program and what participants can expect to gain from this unique learning opportunity.

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OLC: What is the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate Program?

The Advanced Online Teaching Certificate is a 12-week workshop which recently went through a complete redesign. We start with critically analyzing one of our own courses to determine how close, or far, we are from the best practices described in the OSCQR Course Design Review and the Quality Course Teaching and Instructional Practice (QCTIP) scorecards. This analysis becomes the foundation and framework that each individual participant uses as they explore the six units of study which make up this program. The units include:

  • Unit 1: Getting Started – Utilize the OSCQR and QCTIP scorecards to complete a course design review for a course that you teach in order to identify strong aspects, as well as areas for improvement.
  • Unit 2: Objectives and Assessments – Broaden your knowledge of various assessment techniques (formative and summative) for measuring individual and group student performance, starting with examining program and course learning objectives to ensure they are measurable.
  • Unit 3: Multimedia and Social Media with Accessibility Considerations – Explore popular forms of multimedia/social media tools to promote student engagement and build connections within a learning community. Delve into common accessibility standards as related to the use of such media.
  • Unit 4: Active Learning Strategies – Discuss the pros and cons of active learning, as well as a broad range of active learning strategies including (but not limited to) collaborative learning, problem-based learning, inductive learning, etc.
  • Unit 5: Open Unit – To strive to make this program as worthwhile and personal as possible for the cohort of individuals enrolled, the participants decide what they want to study, and that content is then designed and shared.
  • Unit 6: Full Circle – Brings the program full circle by reflecting on improvements made to a course by again using the lens of the OSCQR and QCTIP.

OLC: How is this program considered to be “advanced”?

THAT is a very interesting question, simply because “advanced” means different things to different people. What might be an advanced topic or skill for one participant might be a more elementary concept to another. Therefore, participants in this workshop are encouraged to advance and challenge themselves in every topic we study. Because, as I am sure you are all aware of, regardless of how much we know, there is always more to learn. This program encourages personal stretching, reaching, and learning.

OLC: To whom and why would you recommend this program?

I would recommend this program to any individuals who want to learn more, who want to challenge themselves, and who want to improve their own craft of teaching. Instructors who seek to improve the learning environment for their students and who want to do it in a safe place where they can experiment will benefit from this program.  Participants have the opportunity to test new strategies that they have never tried before, and they can do this in a space where they are supported and encouraged by like-minded peers.

OLC: What are some of the reasons that participants choose to take this program?

Educators have stated many reasons for participating in this workshop. Some of the reasons participants choose this program are:

  1. to create different styles of assessments and to learn more about using technology effectively
  2. simply because education is a passion and the participant saw this workshop is a way to advance what they know
  3. to use this workshop as a personal professional development opportunity to learn more about themselves, about teaching, and to create better instructional opportunities for their students
  4. to learn about and then apply best practices of teaching and learning
  5. to be able to build, learn, and then discuss with other professional educators from around the world
  6. to be pushed outside their own comfort zone to do something new, learn something new, and then collaborate with others to go one step further.

OLC: What can participants expect to gain from this program?

What participants will gain from this program will differ from individual to individual, simply because the motivation to enroll in this program differs from person to person. However, participants can expect to walk away knowing more than they knew when they started, to create assets that they can use in their classroom, and to form lasting relationships with other educators from around the country and sometimes the world!

About Dr. Donna Scribner

Donna Scribner

Dr. Donna E. Scribner has more than 35 years of experience in education, as a teacher at the middle, high school and college levels, and in developing and delivering professional development opportunities for teachers. A seasoned conference speaker, she frequently addresses groups on the effective use of technology in the mathematics and engineering curricula, creating instructional environments that support a student’s motivation to engage and persist in learning, and has conducted professional development workshops for teachers all over the country. One of Donna’s frequent messages is about the power and the promise of online learning.

Most recently Donna held the position of Vice President and leader of the Center for Teaching and Learning at American Public University System (APUS). Before joining APUS, Donna was the Chief Learning Officer for Virtual High School Global Consortium (VHS) where she was responsible for overseeing VHS’s online curriculum for students and professional development for teachers. In addition, Donna held the position of the Director of Online Learning for Project Lead the Way (PLTW). She created their Virtual Academy, an online school offering professional development opportunities for teachers to learn the skills and content needed to teach pre-engineering courses. She started at PLTW as a National Associate for Curriculum and Training. While in this position, she traveled the country designing and delivering all day professional development workshops for the PLTW teachers.

Donna holds a BS in Mathematics Education from the University of New Hampshire, a MA in Education from Antioch New England, and a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University. She lives in NH with her husband of 40 years.



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