The Teaching Online Program (TOP) is a 6-week professional development program for new and experienced online instructors who want to get started with or enhance their online teaching and learning skills. TOP is delivered completely online using a variety of activities, content, and technologies to provide an authentic online learning experience. Participants and the facilitators work through the program as a highly collaborative cohort, meeting online regularly through online discussions and synchronous (i.e. live) sessions. TOP is designed to give participants practical skills and knowledge in both developing and teaching an online course in higher education. The program is divided into four main topics: Exploring online learning, online teaching and learning activities, online student assessment, and planning your course. Embedded through-out the entire program are the main learning outcomes:
- Conceptualize online learning.
- Structure your online course.
- Plan online teaching and learning activities that support your course outcomes.
- Plan online assessment strategies that measure student learning.
- Select appropriate learning technologies to facilitate online learning.
- Facilitate an online discussion board.
Related Documentation and Materials
Example Participant Work
Participants complete an online component of their course, some of which choose to create online content in a variety of ways.
This participant created a Prezi with audio to further explain the use of iSBAR in patient care settings.
While another participant created a voice over PowerPoint to summarize and bring further meaning and reflection to the topic of Nudity in Greek Art for a course on ancient Greek art & architecture.
One of the assignments is to create an activity planning sheet for your course that integrates online learning theories, technology, and activity learning goals. Here is an example from the participants:
The Teaching Online Program uses a feedback form that collects participant feedback on specific and general aspects of the program. Overall, the program receives very positive feedback from participants and averages 4.2 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very satisfied. In the beginning of the program, some participants express an uneasiness with planning to teach an online course. As a result of the program, the feedback shows an increase in confidence levels for planning an online course. From the data, the increase in confidence seems to be attributed to each of the four modules which speaks to what the participants expressed they felt most useful as they engaged in meaningful and in depth discussion around the content over four weeks.
Quotes from Participants
“I learned a lot from discussion boards and students’ contributions were very helpful and the facilitators involvement was helpful. The readings were very good and to the point and answered a lot of questions for us.”
“It [TOP] gave me a real taste for how online teaching would work”
“The readings provided a new perspective of online teaching for me. There truly is a science behind online teaching…”
“I had no experience in teaching online before this program so almost all modules and activities were very useful for me.”
Reflection and Impact
TOP was developed within the Educational Development Unit (EDU) during the fall and winter of 2012, and was first piloted in February 2013 with 16 participants. Since then the EDU has offered 15 sessions for over 290 participants. Participants join TOP with a wide range of online teaching and learning experiences, and from across most Faculties on campus. TOP has gone through minor improvements over time based on facilitator and participant feedback, yet the core of the program has remained the same. Lately, we have focused the content and provided participants more opportunities to reflect on their own teaching and share with others.
We regularly update resources in TOP to ensure we are keeping current with advances and new ideas for online teaching and learning in higher education. We maintain a flexible learning environment so participants can add to the body of knowledge and have options to explore online learning within their own contexts and interests. This is highly reflected in the discussions and the variety of learning technologies used by the participants.
Project collaborators: Patrick Kelly, Patti Dyjur, Lin Yu, Haboun Bair
ePortfolio post authors: Patrick Kelly, Lin Yu, Haboun Bair