Australian universities are coming under increasing demand to deliver online courses. This demand is driven by four main factors; 1) the increasing availability of multimedia capable computers, fast modems and Internet access; 2) the emergence of online technologies such as the WWW that provides a crossplatform, non-proprietary multimedia delivery system; 3) the promise of enhancements to the quality of the teaching and learning experience; and 4) being part of the global education market. The academic who teaches successfully online now needs a knowledge of both pedagogy as it applies to the online environment and a knowledge of current appropriate software, hardware and network technology. Since the traditional skills of most university staff don’t fit them for these new demands, staff development has a critical role to play in the success of online teaching and learning within the university environment. To explore how this staff development need is being catered for, a Web-based survey was distributed to the Head of the Staff Development Unit or equivalent in each Australian university. 20 responses (48%) were received and analysed, and a follow up phone survey conducted of non-respondents. Staff development activities undertaken during 1997 and those planned for 1998 were reported by respondents from a range of metropolitan and regional universities. Results show that most training is delivered by traditional methods such as classroom presentations, demonstrations and half day tutorials while online methods of delivering training are less frequently used. The content of training courses covers a broad range of topics with the most popular being, pedagogical issues in online course design, Web page design, and course authoring systems. Staff undertaking training tended to be from a cross section of academic levels. Staff development activities of this nature are not exclusively provided by the Staff Development Unit but tend to be carried out by a range of internal and external providers. Phone interviews of nonrespondents further revealed aspects of organisational change.
Ellis, A, O'Reilly, M & Debreceny, R 1998, 'Staff development responses to the demand for online teaching and learning', in R Cordoroy (ed.), ASCILITE '98: flexibility the next wave?, Proceedings from 15th annual conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, Wollongong NSW, 14-16 December, University of Wollongong, Woolongong, NSW, pp. 191-201.
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