Online learning can result in an individual teacher adopting technologies to extend their student support, or enhance traditional teaching approaches. Scaling up online learning to a departmental or institutional level involves a broad range of staff across several departments and will need to be discussed at all levels of the organisation.
Adapting to change
Although technological, economic and social developments happen at an incredible pace, educational institutions tend to be slow-moving, risk-averse and resistant to change. Your institution may have hierarchical structures that reflect old models of research and learning.
However, modern organisations must adopt new approaches to:
- Globally collaborative teams,
- Information management
- Sharing and communicating
Traditional staff roles can change with online learning. Boundaries blur particularly in how we support learners. Online students still need support with learning, research, finding information, technical aspects, careers, and wellbeing, but they also have additional needs that link to learning in a networked world.
They must create, manage and curate content, be aware of safety and digital identity, and, increasingly, they need to develop a professional online portfolio or presence.
Students’ changing needs mean that teaching staff may also need to become proficient in, for example, content curation (on behalf of a class) or help students use social networking technologies safely. Staff with experience of online learning may adopt a leadership role within their team.
Many formal skills frameworks relate to different functions in an educational institution. Some of these reflect older, very well defined job roles, but others are attempting to reflect newer skills and the crossover between them.
Your institution may already have staff support mechanisms to help them develop the necessary skills and knowledge and to help them manage change. It will need to address the changes that online learning brings and adapt campus-based services to provide equitable provision for online students.
Your institution will need to work in different ways, and may need to transform some of its traditional staffing structures. It may need to recruit staff with different and new skills, or consider working with external partners/people to improve provision or deal with changing demands.
Using industry professionals to provide online feedback might help to provide a 24/7 service for students based in different time zones.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Staff may lack digital capabilities||Provide staff training and support|
|Lack of time for staff to adapt to new developments and learn new skills||Develop institution-wide policies to support staff as they adapt to new roles|
|Provide time and resources to help staff adjust|
|Try to find external funding - short projects can include extra staff or resources to support learning and development|
|Senior and middle management buy-in is essential|
|Difficulty managing changes to staff roles as a result of online provision||Consider how traditional staff roles change as a result of using online technologies|
|Provide staff training and support|
|Identify existing skills frameworks|
|Consider developing an institutional skills framework which highlights different roles and the skills required to fulfil them|