Excellence in Online Teaching within Saint Mary's

SEBA faculty congregate monthly for meetings about “Excellence in Teaching,” where faculty share their best teaching practices in the hope that their colleagues will become better instructors and the students better learners. Other times, they bring in guest speakers, as they did on March 6, when they leveraged the technology used in our online courses to offer a webinar or online seminar. This allowed them to meet with faculty from campuses across the United States, all united by a common interest in delivering courses and programs in the increasingly popular online environment.

Led by Professors Barry Eckhouse, Judith White, and Michelle Zak, the SEBA faculty was joined by many other SMC faculty members across campus for this special “Excellence in Teaching” meeting, which focused on migrating existing face-to-face courses to the online environment. The webinar  was titled Ten Ways to Improve Blended Course Design” and explained how a hybrid model can deliver cost-effective, quality-laden results for higher education. Key takeaways from this workshop include:

  • Don’t just take a face to face course and use the material directly in online environment. Start from scratch. The delivery method and way of receiving information is different, and that difference requires tailoring.
  • Be careful not to simply lecture because monologue-based teaching does not work well in the online environment
  • Foster  interaction either through group work or purposeful student engagement
  • Understand that teaching in an online environment is not simply another system for delivery, but one with unique challenges at every level.

Professor Barry Eckhouse, SEBA’s Director of Technology and Online Programs, stated “The seminar was a good reminder of things we already know, but need to hear a number of times. For some faculty there is a deep-seated resistance to using technology in higher education, but it is virtually inevitable because of its implications for market reach, enrollment, overhead reduction, and more. In addition, there are recent studies that suggest the quality of online education, measured in learning outcomes, is often comparable or better than face-to-face learning.”