... institutions are obviously compelled to hire content experts. These professionals are not always expected to know how to design their online courses or, perhaps more importantly, to deliver their content. This is where I feel Instructional Technologists are so valuable! Some areas an Instructional Technologist might (within the realm of course design) be of assistance in balancing expertise with technology use:
•Discuss with the instructor his or her views of the kind of approach s/he is most comfortable with in delivering instruction—constructively, behaviorally. This really has to do with the learning style of the instructor. In my experience, most content experts teach as they were taught—even online—teacher-centered, directing instruction through lecture because they do not have formal training as a teacher (and teaching online is a different ballgame than teaching face-to-face). The philosophy of the teacher can be telling as to whether students will be assessed within constructive or behavioral parameters.
•Matching specific technology and media with the teacher’s style of delivering instruction and/or the content to be delivered, and providing the training necessary. Mishra et al., (2009) say the instructor must be taught how to use the technology and how to use it instructionally; however, we must bear something else mind—the authors do not touch on this: The instructor must know the technology well enough to troubleshoot for the student who might have difficulties with it.
•Developing the necessary and appropriate tutorials that must be placed within the course so that students will be able to manipulate the technologies when the instructor is not available—I see this as an area that we SO need to improve upon! My interest lies in transactional distance—difficulties with technology can contribute to the psychological distance students feel in the online learning environment. You can’t just load up a course with technology and expect the student to “have at it.” Students must have access to it, be able to use it easily, and it must be directly related to student achievement of learning objectives. Technical support must be available, too, at the (sometimes “odd”) hours students need it.