Training Instructors to Use Tech Tools

Amy Rottmann and Salena Rabidoux provide six strategies for preparing educators to teach online or with in-class technologies. 

July 26, 2017
 

Many people have a negative view of training, which can be evident if you search for #ihatetraining on Twitter. Training can be especially challenging when it comes to teaching faculty members to use new digital technologies and tools. However, conducting and/or receiving training can be a positive experience. Training that focuses on several integral strategies can lead to effective and efficient outcomes for all individuals involved.  

Instructional designers and faculty members who provide professional development, peer support, and/or administrative representatives to instructors  should be aware of these strategies when conducting trainings on technologies and online and classroom teaching practices. Here are six effective training strategies that you should consider:

1. Build Relationships 

Training should offer the opportunity to apply new knowledge directly into daily practice. In order to best achieve this, the importance of faculty-trainer relationship should be addressed first. Building a professional relationship allows the trainer to understand the faculty member’s baseline of knowledge, learning style, and comfort level with technology. It also fosters open communication and could lead to possible opportunities for collaboration.

Some initial strategies for building a relationship with faculty are:

  • Have a positive attitude about instructional design.
  • Display energy and confidence during interactions. Enthusiasm and zeal are inviting traits.
  • Utilize probing questions. For example, “How is your semester going?”
  • Ground yourself in customer service (superior communication, compassion, patience, self-control, etc.)
  • Utilize positive reinforcement to increase retention and desire to continue learning technology applications.

2. Stay Informed

Research is an important aspect of training. Researching latest trends in higher education, instructional design, and eLearning can serve as a catalyst for training development in place of a needs assessment. Often times, faculty are unable to articulate what they need to know because they don’t know what exists.  

3. Practice What You Preach

Trainers should have an “inside scoop” on what is involved with teaching courses prior to training. It is essential for trainers to have first-hand knowledge of the entire process of building a course: designing, developing, implementing, and assessing learning outcomes.  

If a trainer has not taught in higher education, then it is beneficial to co-teach a module or a course with a faculty member. Co-teaching offers a full-spectrum view of course facilitation from beginning to end, which will offer first-hand experience on the intricacies involved with online courses from the faculty’s perspective. Co-teaching can also serve as another aspect in relationship-building.

4. Meet Them Where They Are

Faculty bring a plethora of history to any learning experience, and effective trainers properly leverage those experiences to heighten professional development. However, it is important to keep in mind that faculty have numerous facets to their job, and teaching is a small part.

Some faculty may not be as familiar with technology tools as one would assume. Therefore, it is important for trainers to differentiate their training levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. For example, if faculty members are only familiar with discussion boards in their LMS, then the initial job of the trainer is to teach them how to create amazing and engaging discussion board before exploring more complex instructional design components.

Another suggestion is to provide mock simulations, so faculty can test out new tools/strategies before implementing them in their courses.  

5. Bridge the Gaps

Trainers have the opportunity to view courses across several departments. This exposure can offer a unique opportunity for trainers to serve as a bridge between faculty members. Often times, faculty yearn to collaborate across departments, but they are not aware of what other faculty are doing.  

Trainers have the ability to bridge the silo gap between departments by sharing strategies and research with all faculty members. This also has a potential to strengthen the trainer-faculty relationship as it can lead to a personal connection on top of the professional relationship already established.  

6. Be a Leader

Effective trainers proactively support faculty and allow faculty to share experiences with one another. One way to establish this is by creating an online faculty learning community within the institution.  An open source platform that provides job aids, quick tips, and course development tools is an effective approach. Trainers and faculty should be able to post things to increase collaborative opportunities.  

After trainings have concluded, faculty have mastered the tools, and the learning community is established, it is imperative for trainers to stay available. There will always be a software update or random technological glitch to get in the way and when those moments occur, faculty will need the support of the trainer. Also, faculty will always benefit from ongoing training and follow-up re-teaching of content. 

Bio

Amy Rottmann is assistant professor of education at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Salena Rabidoux is teaching program coordinator and instructional designer at the University North Carolina at Wilmington. 

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