Emerging instructional technologies and innovative approaches to online teaching are an important part of the higher education landscape. The Sloan Consortium’s report: “Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States” states over 6.7 million students were learning online in 2012. Consider as well, a total of 868,900 students from around the world enrolled in a Duke massive open online course (MOOC) in 2013. Whether the learning experience is delivered in a MOOC, blended, flipped or in a hybrid model, online education reaches us in many ways.
Recognizing the need to help students become knowledgeable in online college teaching, the Graduate School’s Bass Undergraduate Instructional Program, for PhD students, began offering fellowships for Bass Online Apprentices (Bass OAs) in Spring 2014. Dr. Hugh Crumley, Director of the Certificate in College Teaching, partnered with The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) to develop a working plan that provides important practical experience for Bass online apprentices. Dr. Crumley comments on the significance of this new initiative: “Many of our graduate students see online teaching as an inevitable part of their future academic world and have expressed great interest in training that will allow them to understand and exploit online teaching technologies.”
As part of the Bass OA fellowship, students will enroll in GS 762 Online College Teaching, a new course that covers instructional design and issues in online and hybrid higher education, and participate in an online apprenticeship for a term with CIT, gaining valuable experience working with Duke faculty and CIT consultants who have expertise in innovative teaching practices in online education.
I spoke with Keri Hamilton, a PhD student in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (and our first Bass OA at CIT) to ask about her experience as an online apprentice. Keri is assisting Dr. Mohamed Noor, who teaches Introduction to Genetics and Evolution, a Coursera MOOC, offered to 40,797 students from around the world. Keri shared her thoughts:
“The opportunity to work with Dr. Noor and CIT has really opened my eyes to some amazing potential with Massively Open Online Courses. The quantity of people enrolling in these classes and continuing their education is staggering, and the depth of courses offered is truly impressive. As I continue to monitor Dr. Noor’s Introduction to Genetics and Evolution, I find I am looking forward to learning the details about how a MOOC is conceived and constructed. I anticipate that with the help of the fantastic staff at Duke’s CIT, I will be equipped to plan and implement other beneficial courses in the future and contribute to the dissemination of information to the general public.”
By the time these PhD students have completed Dr. Crumley’s course, GS 762, Online College Teaching, and the Bass online apprenticeship at CIT, they will be prepared to enter faculty positions with an understanding of online higher education.