I am considering what experiences and qualities make faculty members “innovative” when it comes to online teaching.
I’m thinking what’s necessary is:
1. Openness in their work — sharing class materials on the open web, using the materials of others, appreciating Creative Commons, blogging ideas.
2. Theory or research – A theoretical background, through reading or education or networking, in learning and how it’s done online. The ability to explore the research and come to ones own philosophy about applying it to ones own work.
3. Membership or activity in groups, learning communities and organizations that promote innovation in online education, such as the The New Media Consortium, Classroom 2.0, EdTechTalk, the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge open courses, and ones own personal learning network through social media.
5. Creation – use of open web applications and emerging technologies for creating materials, and a desire to create ones own materials that are engaging and meet learning goals.
6. Technicality – Some kind of backstage experience: writing HTML, programming, etc.
7. An understanding that online teaching is its own discipline.
Some of the things that I think that show lack of innovation are:
1. Closed work – where everything is behind a password and copyrighted.
2. Degrees from and teaching at institutions that require a “team” approach to course design instead of individual instructors designing their own classes (examples: National, Argosy, Ashford, University of Pheonix, Rio Salado, and anywhere under investigation by the federal government for False Claims).
3. Membership or activity in groups or organizations particular to ones discipline, but not engaged with online innovation, or in groups that say they are innovative but are primarily business oriented, with lots of sponsors from #4 and #5 below (this includes the League for Innovation in the Community College, EDUCAUSE, CUE, and any other group that seems to have strayed from its roots or charges $995 in conference registration fees).
5. Extensive experience with traditional Course Management Systems (e-College, Blackboard, Moodle) using all the internal tools but nothing open, sometimes accompanied by full use of publisher course cartridges.
6. Use of exclusively high-level, high-cost, proprietary tools from major vendors (Adobe, Apple) for creating materials, which are then loaded into a CMS.
7. Strictly “front office” experience, always implementing someone else’s idea.
8. A perception that online teaching is a mode of instruction, a venue, an alternative, the future, or a field of knowledge that begins with technology instead of pedagogy.