Your institution should include online learning capabilities in continuing professional development (CPD) mechanisms. Formally acknowledging the need for new skills shows this is an important activity, aligned with institutional strategy.
Building skills and competencies
It also demonstrates that your institution is willing to commit time and resources to help staff build their skills and competencies in this area. This kind of approach can be helpful for staff, who may be feeling threatened or concerned about how this will affect their jobs and working practices.
Our guide, digitally enable your team to improve learner engagement, offers a useful starting point and focuses on the change management aspects.
Digital capacity audit
While this does link with generic digital capability building for all staff, online learning needs addressing specifically as it may require different digital skills. It can be useful to carry out a digital capacity audit to evaluate how confident staff are in using technologies, and how they might adapt these to support their work.
For online learning, this may need an additional element to find out if they understand the difference between adopting new technology and implementing a coherent new model for teaching and learning.
Staff will also need to engage with the wider implications of scaling up online learning, including:
- Administrative and operational systems and services
- Legal and ownership issues
- Student tracking and data issues
- Curriculum design and student learning
- Retention and support.
Opportunities and courses for staff development
There are courses available to support staff development in online learning. It can be particularly useful for staff to attend online courses to experience what it feels like to be an online student.
Some courses such as the developing digital leaders course offered by Oxford Brookes University1 focus on specific aspects of practice, but there are masters and postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) courses with a broader online learning element.
Open online courses for staff - examples
There are also open online courses run by teachers that provide opportunities for staff to engage with key concepts and discuss these with peers. For example:
- Blended learning: getting started - a free course for the vocational education and training sector (University of Leeds Futurelearn course)
- Getting started with online learning - Open University Futurelearn course
- Connected courses: active co-learning in higher education
- E-learning and digital cultures MOOC - University of Edinburgh Coursera course
- Flexible, Open, Social Learning (FOS) - an open online course
- 1 Developing digital leaders course - http://www.moodle.openbrookes.net/course/view.php?id=24