So you’re about to start teaching online: read this first!

We’re all now pretty familiar with online education, but there are still plenty of us out there who have yet to experience the challenges and joys of teaching online. You just might be in this position, and you may also have been asked (cajoled/bribed/ordered/…) to join in the fun.

However you are feeling about online teaching (excited/anxious/sanguine/…), if you haven’t done it before, then get yourself started by reading Tony Bates’ excellent new monograph The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors. Note the use of ‘monograph’ – this is not a heavy tome to digest, but a short, sharp document of a mere 37 pages that just might (will!) save you plenty of wasted hours of development dilemmas if you follow the sage advice. And if it really gets you going, you’ll probably feel inclined to move on to Tony’s more substantial (500 page) offering, Teaching in a Digital Age (again, a free download).

The overall aim of the monograph is to:

address some common myths and misconceptions about online learning and online teaching, and in particular to help you make decisions about whether or not to do online learning in the first place, and if so, what you need to know to do it well. Indeed, in some places, I suggest certain conditions where you are better off not doing it.

What are the 10 fundamentals anyway? Tony presents them as 10 Guides, based on a series of posts from his website:

  1. What is online learning?
  2. Isn’t online learning worse than face-to-face teaching?
  3. ‘Aren’t MOOCs online learning?’
  4. ‘What kinds of online learning are there?’
  5. When should I use online learning?
  6. How do I start?
  7. Why not just record my lectures?
  8. Won’t online learning be more work?
  9. How can I do online learning well?
  10. Ready to go

It’s immediately obvious that you don’t have to read all 10: go straight to the topic which most concerns you. Don’t neglect number 9 though; it’s pivotal. And it’s reassuring to see the good old ADDIE model of design and development still in use (see p. 15 for a nice infographic from Flexible Learning Australia).

 Any quibbles? I have none of substance, though I would have liked a better title. It sounds a tad grandiose (not like Tony at all!), and I suspect that it’s been foisted on him by the publisher (the usually sensible Contact North). Wouldn’t a simple title like Guide to Online Teaching be sufficient?

Enough of my needless grumbling: enjoy!

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