From Inside Higher Ed:
“Most of the professors who teach at the university level have had no experience with pedagogy or instruction in general,” says Janet Buckenmeyer, chair of the instructional technology master’s program at Calumet. “They’re content experts, not teaching experts." . . . Since most professors have spent their lives holding forth from the front of a lecture hall, many have not had to engineer their lesson plans with the sort of rigor required of a well-designed online course, Buckenmeyer says.Puh-leeze. Not again. Most professors "holding forth in front of a lecture classroom" without a clue about teaching? Can't they let this monster die, along with the "teaches with yellowing notes from 1963" deadwood professor? They're like Bigfoot: everyone has heard of him, but nobody's actually seen him. There may be some, but this is more a 30-years-ago situation than the case today, isn't it?
Here's what I'd like to tell the "education consultant": While university faculty may not have taken education classes, most of them have been taught or have learned to teach well through observation, mentoring, talking with colleagues, and, well, the kinds of critical thinking that we apply to research.
Think about it. No one wants to fail at teaching, and it'd be a rare person indeed who wouldn't spend massive amounts of time figuring out how to succeed--that is, how to engage the students, construct good assignments, and so on. We're eager to find out different ways to do things, different techniques, and different assignments. We look at what's worked for online and traditional courses and reverse-engineer them so that we have the principles of a successful course as we design our own. We want to improve.
We know already that we need to have a sense of the goals for the class and what our students need to do to attain them. We also know to let them know what those goals are and what our expectations for them will be.
What I haven't liked about my dealings with "educational consultants" is this: they have a one best way to do everything (sorry, but that's my experience), and even if you have a better way, they don't want to hear it. Blackboard is the One Best Way. Using a rubric defined by them is the One Best Way. Having a pointless splash page with nothing but the course title instead of announcements on the main page is the One Best Way to set up Blackboard. And they're patronizing about it, too, as they inform you about how wrong you are--again, your mileage may vary.
So I read with interest Clio Bluestocking's run-in with a consultant who wants all the online sections of a course to be identical and--here's the thing--unchanging, with a "designing instructor" and
lowly underlings non-designing instructors who can grade but not change anything about the course:
Maybe I'm being unfair. The non-designing instructors CAN change things, they just have to go to the designing instructor. The designing instructor then calls a meeting of the "team." The team then debates the change. Then, if the change is accepted, everyone must adopt the change. A year later.
In short, we are not stupid. We want to be good at what we do, and, guess what? many of us are. Please do us the courtesy of believing that we know a thing or two when we seek your advice instead of telling us that we are mere "content experts" and not "teaching experts." For what it's worth, I don't think you can be one without the other.