Muting the Faculty: Helping Faculty Transition from the Lectern to Digital Media
Online classes are no longer a new phenomenon in the academy, but they continue to be unfamiliar territory to many veteran professors. Some faculty hesitate on philosophical grounds, while others simply do not wish to alter their teaching style. Regardless of the motivation for faculty protest, technology has permanently changed higher education. In one sense, the Internet, with its seemingly limitless supply of information, is the new professor. Online classes can be designed to encourage student engagement, but they do not necessitate a lecturing instructor. This is an understandable threat for seasoned faculty. Though “muted,” experienced and high-quality teachers remain a necessary component of student learning. Undergraduates need to be guided toward first-hand discovery of foundational content, given opportunities to think about, reflect on, critique, and apply the readily available information. Students can be led through these online learning exercises if faculty are willing to reconceptualize their work of instruction, namely replacing the majority of their lecture materials with effective course design elements and digital media. The following article is intended to assist academic leaders to understand the unique nature of online pedagogy, appreciate the responses of hesitant faculty, and to discover multiple ways to help faculty develop an “online” voice.