Using Distance Learning Faculty Mentors to Help Promote Success in Online Classes
Farmingdale State College
The DL mentors offer small and individual training that is usually delivered to their own department faculty, although some have also done training in other departments and disciplines. This local collaboration encourages faculty who might not otherwise be interested in teaching online to give it a try. The Office of Distance Learning also partnered with our CTLT department, which is run through the Library at the moment, to offer college-wide presentations that we will overview shortly. Mentors also help faculty in utilizing teaching and learning resources and technologies, and this was especially helpful with the shift to emergency remote online learning where faculty had to choose and acclimate to a web-conferencing platform such as Collaborate, Teams, or Google Meet to conduct their classes. Mentors also provide invaluable pedagogical support and best practices, which come directly from their own online teaching experience in how to engage students. This is was very helpful to faculty who were facing teaching online for the first time and then also had to figure out how to engage students who were probably taking online courses for the first time as well. This program offers adjuncts who may not be on campus a way to connect with their department as they develop and teach their online courses.
We have several mentors' reports from fall 2021, spring 2021, and summer 2020 semesters.
Here is some feedback from a faculty mentor regarding the process:
-“This sense of barely staying on top of the remote teaching requirements seems to have been widespread. Instructors were committed to serving their students and felt their efforts left no time and energy to innovate or experiment with the various tools available on Blackboard. Ironically, the workshops offered might have helped faculty save time (for example, several instructors described the burden of collecting assignments by email when Blackboard provides a much more efficient means of managing homework, essays, and exams), but the prospect of yet another training session and yet another technology intimidated many and left them content with a “let’s just get through this term” philosophy.”
-“As a mentor for online faculty during Summer 2020, I had a very positive and effective experience during this major shift for Farmingdale State College.”
-“I worked with faculty individually and we covered everything from uploading a syllabus to sharing content during a Collaborate session.”
-“I hope that the college will provide more support incentives for the fall semester as these issues are only going to persist.”