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Continuing Education Instructor Handbook LibGuide

What is it Like to Teach for Continuing Education?

As the demands for well thought-out programs, courses and offerings continues to grow so does the need for exceptional educational leaders and educators. We are excited that you are considering being a part of an already great team of instructors at McMaster University Continuing Education. Whether you are considering being an instructor for the first time or if you are a seasoned instructor, we welcome you. Here are some things you need to know.

If you are considering teaching online with Continuing Education:

  1. Our online environments are dynamic - they are interactive and student involved.
  2. There is lots of connection to the students.
  3. We do require a fair degree of technical expertise for navigating the McMaster system, our learning management system (A2L), and any additional student support systems. We offer training and systems support.
  4. Our mandate is to support quality education, student learning and instructional support - we care about all of these and work towards being supportive in.
  5. You will need to challenge our students - they are here to learn from you and the materials.
  6. As an instructor you will sometimes need to be flexible - adult students' lives have many facets and moving parts.

If you are considering teaching in-class with Continuing Education:

  1. Students love to have the connections with our instructors.
  2. Our instructors are required to have technical expertise as they will be responsible for uploading information to the McMaster system and working with other student support systems (eg. Riipen).
  3. Being prepared is part of being a great instructor - our students will ask questions and will seek to understand. Having real world experience allows you to link your experience into practice.
  4. Engaging in-class presentations are the cornerstone of adult learning theories and our instructors use these opportunities to link academics to workplace practice at every opportunity.

Instructor Qualifications

1. Communication skills

Effectively articulates in a way that ensures that the message has been received and understood for online communications.  Posts clear messages in straightforward, standard language.   Establishes and models desired methods and rules of communication rules for student-student and student-instructor communications.   Also includes maintaining communications with students on a regular basis and ability to give others constructive feedback.

2. Rapport Building skills

Able to make connections with others, establish and maintain relationships based on trust, respect, empathy and appropriate sensitivity. Establishes a social presence online in activities using a variety of strategies and tools (i.e. discussion board, email, text chats, social media, announcements, etc).  Utilizes intuition and diplomacy in encounters with others, including students/participants, program staff, other instructors and community members. 

3. Collaborative

Works cooperatively with others towards common goals. Contributes to resolving conflicts and problems together. Fosters the development of a learning community within the online course.  

4. Facilitation skills

Engages others in the process of learning together.  Incorporates learning activities that encourage active learning, interaction, participation and collaboration in the online environment.  Provides opportunities for online discussion, debate and engagement with learning materials.  Moderates discussions, contributes to advanced content knowledge and insights, weaving together discussion threads.  Contributes outside resources and encourages learners to share experiences and information.  Demonstrates a genuine interest in the learners, and able to present ideas and pose questions in an interesting manner.

5. Technical aptitude

Familiar with technology including computers, presentation software, presentation equipment, online resources, electronic tools, educational technologies such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) and collaboration tools.   Develops technical literacy required for online learning environments. 

6. Skilled in enabling people to learn

Distills down complex concepts in a way that can be easily understood by the learner. Recognizes the different ways in which different people learn, and adapts to those learning styles. Takes care to understand the needs of each individual learner.  Designs instruction aligned with course objectives/outcomes.  Adjusts delivery and facilitation to ensure that each learner is receiving a quality learning experience.  

7. Organizational skills

Manages one’s time such that deadlines are met. Recognizes changing priorities and adjusts activities/plans in order to achieve objectives. Maintains program materials and student/learner data. Manages online student activities and has a clear ability to make effective, educational uses of course management tools.  

8. Objectivity (in grading)

Assess performance and behavior based on factual information, without being influenced by personal preferences.  Provides learners with clear grading criteria, grading policy and submission processes. 

9. Cognitive skills

Assesses and understands complex concepts and information. Applies problem solving and decision making methods, and analyses data and issues.  

10. Research skills (evidence based)

Surveys the environment to gather information, organizes and clarifies the information. Uses multiple sources including online resources, books, studies and other sources of expertise.

11. Learner orientation

Identifies and pursues learning opportunities in order to continuously improve and grow. Receives and acts on feedback from others, and is open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. 

12. Service orientation

Focused on the needs of others and strives to respond to those needs.  

13. Self-motivation

Remains motivated and focused on the task, with a passion for helping people learn, and a passion for the field of study. Authentic interest in continuing education in a university setting.  Remains current with best practices for online learning.  

14. Professionalism/Ethics

Is a role-model in the field of study in terms of personal presentation and professional conduct. Maintains appropriate confidentiality and boundaries, and demonstrates awareness and respect for policies and organizational values.

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