SLCC has created an Online Teacher Credential (OTC) for all faculty who want to teach online at SLCC. To earn the credential, faculty must satisfactorily complete the Online Teacher Credential course offered through a partnership of the Faculty Development office and the Division of eLearning. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the OTC.
Why do we need an Online Teacher Credential at SLCC?
The Department of Education (DoE) mandates that all courses at Title IV higher education institutions must have "regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors" in order for their students to qualify for financial aid. This requirement applies to online courses. Online courses cannot be “correspondence courses” or “self-study courses.” The DoE and most accrediting bodies want proof that online instructors are adequately trained to meet these requirements. The purpose of the Online Teacher Credential is to ensure our online instructors know how to maintain an active presence in their courses and to engage regularly with their students.
"I’ve been teaching online for 15 years and I still learned something new!” - OTC Graduate
How were the Online Teacher Credential and OTC course designed?
- In 2015, Faculty Senate approved the requirement that all online faculty at SLCC be required to complete a certification course. The recommendation for this requirement came out of the eLearning Plan, which was collaboratively developed by approximately 60 faculty, administrators, and staff (including the eLET committee).
- In 2016, a working group was formed to come up with the learning objectives, topics, research, and assignments for the course. The participants were Melissa Quinn (faculty), Jeff Zealley (faculty), Nick Burns (AD), and Kim Cosby (AD), along with Paula Michniewicz, Jeff Brandt, and Bob Lindsay from eLearning. They researched other higher ed institutions’ trainings and online teaching best practices, and drew upon their own online teaching experience here and at other institutions. Then they narrowed down the topics and assignments to what is found in the course today (with the exception of the final reflection assignment, which was added later).
- In spring 2017, eLearning designers wrote the text for the OTC course based on the working group’s objectives, assignments, and research, and then built the course in Canvas. The working group reviewed and approved this finished course.
- In summer 2017, Lois Oestreich and Marie Horne facilitated the first pilot with a cohort of six faculty participants (David Alldredge, Eric LeDuc, Melissa Quinn, Brittany Stephenson, Deidre Tyler, Andrew Wilson). Most of these participants were serving on the eLET committee at the time. These participants contributed a number of suggestions to improve the course. eLearning revised the course based on this feedback.
- In November 2017, the course was offered to all SLCC faculty. Although the course continues to be polished and refined, it remains true to the learning objectives, topics, and assignments selected by the original working group. Major changes will not be made without faculty approval.
Who should earn the Online Teacher Credential?
The Online Teacher Credential is required for all faculty, full-time and adjunct, who teach an online course. This requirement was specified in SLCC's eLearning Plan (2015) and approved by Faculty Senate.
“I think the biggest strength of the course was the interaction with the facilitators and with the other faculty members in the class. Although I was aware of many of the concepts presented in the class, I still learned some valuable information and felt the class was worthwhile.” - OTC Graduate
I've been teaching online for years. Do I still have to take the OTC course?
Yes. Best practices and expectations for online teachers continue to evolve, and technology changes often. Even veteran online instructors will learn something new in this course. Veteran faculty also play an important role as mentors to novice participants in the course, answering questions and sharing their experiences and examples with their colleagues.
When should I earn the Online Teacher Credential?
All online faculty should earn the credential by August 1, 2020. After that date, faculty without the credential will not be allowed to teach online courses at SLCC.
"This course was a real eye-opener for me. I'm so glad that I took this course before I tried to teach online." - OTC Graduate
When is the OTC course offered?
The OTC course is offered multiple times each semester, including summer.
What is the format of the OTC course?
The course is taught in an asynchronous fully-online cohort so the participants can experience what it’s like to be an online student and learn research-based best practices and expectations of being an online instructor at SLCC. There is no on-campus meeting for this course. Faculty create or revise materials for their online courses through a series of activities and assessments in Canvas. Faculty also write a final Online Teaching Approach Statement that will serve as a plan of action for their future online teaching. Successfully completing this course counts as professional development. Graduates receive a certificate of completion and a digital badge that can be included in their professional portfolios.
"My favorite aspect of the course it that is in the online format. It is so helpful to know what my students feel like when they start a new online class." - OTC Graduate
Who teaches the OTC course?
The course is co-facilitated by one of SLCC’s veteran online instructors and an instructional designer from SLCC’s eLearning team who has online teaching experience.
How long does it take to complete the OTC course?
The course is taught entirely online and participants spend about two to four hours per week on coursework. A veteran online instructor who is highly proficient in Canvas might be able to finish the course more quickly, but participants who are not proficient in Canvas may need more time to complete this course.
"I loved all of the additional readings, websites, and resources for each topic. I found them extremely helpful and I hope to have access to them in the future so I can reference them often." - OTC Graduate
What is the typical class size of the OTC course?
Minimum class size is eight, and the maximum size is 16. The minimum of eight participants is driven by the need for healthy peer-to-peer interactions between participants, which is critical for the course to achieve its objectives. The maximum of 16 participants is to ensure that the facilitators are not overwhelmed.
"One of the main strengths of the course was its focus on the four key aspects of online teaching: online environment, social communication, learning communication, and course management." - OTC Graduate
Is the OTC course "self-paced"?
The training is entirely online and asynchronous, so participants have some flexibility in when they complete their assignments during the week. But this isn't a "self-study" course that participants complete “at their convenience.” The course runs for six weeks, with assignments due each week. Participants are part of a cohort, and this social learning aspect is a key element of the course design. Late work is discouraged. Participants who do not satisfactorily complete all of the course assignments do not earn the credential and are asked to register for a future session.
What are the prerequisites for the OTC course?
The OTC course is not a Canvas tutorial. Before taking this course, you must be proficient in the following tasks in Canvas:
- Navigating all Canvas menus
- Importing specific content from one Canvas site to another
- Communicating in Canvas using the Inbox
- Creating and editing pages, modules, assignments, and announcements
- Reordering pages, modules, and assignments
- Inserting images, videos, and files on pages
- Creating discussion posts and responding to others' discussion posts
- Recording/uploading videos and screencasts in Canvas
- Maintaining the Gradebook in Canvas
- Using Speedgrader to grade assignments in Canvas
- Creating and using rubrics in Canvas
If you cannot already do these tasks, we strongly recommend that you register for the Canvas User Credential course first.
Are adjunct faculty compensated for taking the OTC course?
The Faculty Development office compensates adjunct faculty for 12 hours of work after completing this Online Teacher Credential course. Adjunct faculty may spend more or less than 12 hours in the course, but the compensation does not change.
What topics are covered in the OTC course?
Here is an outline of the course, with the objectives for each module.
Module 1: The Online Learning Community
- Identify the differences between online and face-to-face learning environments.
- Identify challenges of being an online professor.
- Orient students to an online learning environment.
Module 2: Social Communication (part 1)
- Demonstrate methods for creating social presence.
Module 3: Social Communication (part 2)
- Discuss creating a safe and respectful learning environment through use of a netiquette policy.
- Demonstrate best practices for responding to difficult students.
Module 4: Learning Communication (part 1)
- Provide clear instructions for assignments.
- Create rubrics so students clearly understand expectations on assignments.
Module 5: Learning Communication (part 2)
- Identify effective feedback methods.
- Provide effective feedback.
- Identify strategies for facilitating online discussions.
- Create a communication policy.
Module 6: Online Course Management
- Identify methods to monitor student progress.
- Gather informal student feedback.
- List tasks that need to be completed before, during, and after an online course.
- Identify strategies for managing the online teaching workload.
- Create an Online Teaching Approach statement.
“The information and topics covered in the course was very beneficial and helped me know what things I need to incorporate into my online courses to make them better. It was particularly helpful to learn what other instructors are doing. Learning about other courses has helped me think of improvements for my courses.” - OTC Graduate
How do I register for the OTC course?
Register for the course using SLCC's training registration system, located on the Employee tab in MySLCC. From the list of courses, look for FE25. Adjunct faculty must have the approval of their associate dean to participate in the course. After registering, you will receive instructions for how to log in to the course in Canvas.
"I would like to be able to maintain access to this Canvas course to go back and utilize the wealth of links/data to refer to as I continue to groom my online course and also to share specific links with adjunct instructors that I advise." - OTC Graduate
If I have more questions about the Online Teacher Credential, who can I talk to?
For additional information, please contact Bob Lindsay in eLearning at x3989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.