Staff development for online delivery: a collaborative team-based action learning model
For academics to successfully make the transition to online teachers or learning facilitators, they must do more than develop new technical skills. Online development and delivery requires new pedagogical approaches, challenging previous practices with regards to assessment, group interaction and student/teacher dialogue. Furthermore, it necessitates attention to issues concerning academic work practices. Online delivery challenges traditional notions of academics working in isolation and instead brings together teams of people each with unique skills, into a course design and development team.
This paper describes the early phases of a systems change approach being implemented in the School of Social and Workplace Development at Southern Cross University. An ongoing collaborative action learning model is described as a vehicle for staff development and change management. This consisted of twice weekly team meetings and training sessions. These sessions represented a balance of outside expertise and experiences being brought into the group, and reflective and "idea sharing" sessions amongst the development team itself. A mixture of technological, pedagogical and managerial issues were covered and discussions were fully documented throughout the process.
Information on changing staff attitudes was collected via a series of semistructured interviews recorded at various stages over the course of unit development and early delivery stages, as well as staff completing weekly "reflection sheets" on their experiences. Enthusiasm, collaboration and a sense of ownership are identified as major factors driving the change process. Major barriers included difficulties of dividing time between varied commitments, the importance of timeliness of training components and the need to develop policy and guidelines "on the run". Further data collection such as time commitments from staff and skill requirements at each phase of development were used to develop guidelines and recommendations for further rounds of development and for budgetary planning.
Ellis, A & Phelps, R 1999, 'Staff development for online delivery: a collaborative team-based action learning model', in J Winn (ed.), Responding to diversity: the 16th annual conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education , Brisbane, Qld., 5-8 December, ASCILITE, pp. 71-82.
Paper available online at http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/brisbane99/papers/ellisphelps.pdf