Three University of Toledo faculty members recently received special certification to teach their students online.
By completing the Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program, launched in August by UT Online, Dr. Claire Stuve of UT Online, Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski from the College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Daniel French from the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences are licensed to provide quality online education for students in the University’s fully online programs. Barbara Mauter of the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning completed the program as well, in October 2015.
These instructors followed the steps laid out by Pathway, including lessons in online teaching, Americans With Disabilities Act compliance, online course design, and the Quality Matters peer review process and rubric, and are certified Master Online Instructors.
“The Pathway Program was designed to help faculty develop the knowledge and skills needed to design quality online courses and deliver effective online instruction with technology,” Phoebe Ballard, director of instructional design and development, said.
“I decided to take the Pathway courses because I wanted to broaden my understanding of instructional design in the humanities and provide the best online experience possible for UT students,” French said. “The online learning component of higher education is the future, whether it be in a face-to-face, blended, or all-online environment.”
In the course design portion of the program, instructors are introduced to the Backward Design method. The Backward Design framework begins with the identification of the desired results, with an emphasis on student learning, according to Ballard.
“They’re able to design effective online courses by applying the concepts of Backward Design and alignment,” Ballard said. “First, they develop measurable learning objectives. Next, they determine the acceptable evidence in the form of authentic assessment. Finally, they develop engaging instructional materials and active learning activities, all in support of those measurable goals.”
“As a professor, it’s my nature to want to learn, so I signed up for the courses so I could improve my online teaching abilities and increase my level of understanding course design so that I can challenge and meet the needs of my students,” Kucharewski said.
The ability to take these courses in a largely online format is also a benefit to instructors.
“By participating in these courses as an online student, they have a deep understanding of what it takes to be an effective facilitator of online learning,” Ballard said. “They develop a deep understanding of the unique needs of the online learner and the kind of support online learners need in order to be successful.”
The differences in student needs are further highlighted by the Americans With Disabilities Act course, which looks to close the gaps in education for those with distinctive learning needs.
The now-certified faculty members agree that these courses provide a more comprehensive look at student needs in the online environment.
“I learned a lot and it was definitely a worthwhile experience, because I have now experienced online learning as a professor and a student, and I understand teaching online so much more than ever before,” Kucharewski said.
“We owe our students learning outcomes that make a difference in their lives, and the Pathway Program goes far to accomplish this goal,” French said. “UT Online is an incredible asset that everyone should take advantage of.”
If faculty would like to learn more about the Pathway Program, they are encouraged to contact Ballard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419.530.4379.