Working Together: Creating Effective Online Content with University Faculty

In my years of experience of working with faculty from several universities, I have created several tips and tricks for myself to reflect on to make each relationship I have with faculty successful and, more importantly, to produce courses and media that provide real #outcomes for students. One of the tips I have realized quickly is that in order to successfully create a stellar online course, I need to navigate my relationships with faculty members in a way that allows me to share my expertise in online learning strategically and respects that they are the subject matter experts(they don’t teach you this in school, folks!). I have my MA in Learning Technologies (shoutout: Pepperdine) so I have a lot to say about effective engagement strategies in online learning…most people don’t want to hear that schpeel so I have had to learn to strategize how I share that knowledge in a sneaky way. Part of that came from understanding how to do this was my realization that professors have different values than I do.

One of the fundamentals that drive whether or not someone will complete a task effectively is whether or not they value it. Eccles et al. (2006) explain expectancy-value theory best in two questions: “Can I do the task?” and “Do I want to do the task?.” If an individual answers the first question with a negative answer then they are unlikely to be successful. However, even if they answer yes there is still room for them to say no to the latter. Therefore, there is a delicate balance between both questions that should be identified before asking course designers and professors to complete course development with specific online learning strategies. If each, or even most, answer both questions with a “no” then an organization risks failing at achieving any goals that relate to creating effective content for online learners.

In order to achieve a successful relationship between an organization’s goal and the values that course designers and faculty hold in creating online learning content, a collaborative environment between faculty members and course designers is essential. There is a delicate relationship between both the person designing the course in its online format and the faculty member, a subject matter expert, who will ultimately teach the course.  The relationship is delicate because both the professors and the online learning experts have specialized knowledge that they bring to the course development process, but neither should overburden the other (Brigance 2011). Professors do not want to be managed by course producers, but they typically do welcome being led (Brigance 2011).

All that said, it’s amazing to me how much research focuses on how to create effective online learning and not much of it focuses on how to get people to want to do that.

Have you taken or created an online course lately?

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