ERIC Identifier: ED456841
Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Spector, J. Michael - de la Teja, Ileana
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Competencies for Online Teaching. ERIC Digest.
Information technology is changing the way people live and learn. Not
surprisingly, information technology (IT) is also transforming the nature of
teaching. These remarks provide a framework for thinking about such changes and
exploring work in progress that is relevant to the development of competencies
specific to teaching online (i.e., teaching occurring outside a traditional
classroom, typically in a virtual classroom facilitated by use of the Internet).
COMPETENCE, COMPETENCIES AND CERTIFICATION
refers to a state of being well qualified to perform an activity, task or job
function. When a person is competent to do something, he or she has achieved a
state of competence that is recognizable and verifiable to a particular
community of practitioners. A competency, then, refers to the way that a state
of competence can be demonstrated to the relevant community. According to the
International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction
(IBSTPI), a competency involves a related set of knowledge, skills and attitudes
that enable a person to effectively perform the activities of a given occupation
or function in such a way that meets or exceeds the standards expected in a
particular profession or work setting (Richey et al., 2001). The structure and
assessment of competencies may differ from one community of practice to another
and even within a community. To facilitate a common understanding of
competencies in the\context\of online and distributed learning some
specifications have been elaborated (IMS, 2001). Typically, a competency is
divided into specific indicators describing the requisite knowledge, skills,
attitudes and context of performance.
There are different ways to validate that a person has demonstrated the
relevant competencies (Le Boterf, 1998, 2000, 2001). One of them is through a
certification process (Levy-Leboyer, 1999). Teacher certification is a common
practice, and the notion of teacher competencies is fairly well established.
However, competencies are generally associated with highly formalized
professional activities and not applied to ill-defined tasks (those involving
variable and uncertain circumstances, procedures and outcomes). Ill-defined
tasks certainly include many forms of teaching. This narrow view of competence
runs counter to common sense and professional practice, but brings into
attention the mainstream approach to elaboration of teacher competencies where
it is essential to clearly identify the conditions of teaching (Paquay et al.,
1998). The delivery environment (classroom-based, Internet-based,
laboratory-based based, hybrid environments, and so on) is a particularly
relevant condition to identify competencies for online teaching.
ONLINE AND CLASSROOM TEACHING
Information technology can be
integrated into both online and classroom settings, but the interaction between
these technologies and new approaches to learning and instruction may vary
(Spector & Anderson, 2000). The range of activities available in online
settings and the multiple conditions of time in which they take place are
evidence that the technology demands placed on online teachers are somewhat more
significant than those associated with classroom teachers.
Much of what has already been published with regard to online teaching has
focused on technical skills and requirements of successfully moderating and
facilitating online discussions and chat sessions (e.g., Collison et al., 2000;
Kearsley, 2000; Rosenburg, 2001). This body of literature suggests that becoming
an effective online moderator requires training and that there are competencies
unique to online environments.
In online asynchronous discussions, the moderator's competencies involve (1)
allowing learners time for reflection, (2) keeping discussions alive and on a
productive path, and (3) archiving and organizing discussions to be used in
In online synchronous discussions (e.g., chat), the moderator must (1)
establish ground rules for discussion, (2) animate interactions with minimal
instructor intervention, (3) sense how online text messages may appear to
distant learners, and (4) be aware of cultural differences.
How are these competencies unique to online teaching? At the applied level,
animating discussions, displaying cultural sensitivity and so on, apply to all
teachers. At the environment level, however, the ways in which a teacher
demonstrates such competence is quite different, which suggests that there are
competencies unique to online settings. According to Belisle and Linard (1996)
the use of IT in teaching calls for additional competencies adapted to new roles
and circumstances. Teaching competencies and online teaching competencies have
generally been considered separately. However, efforts to interrelate the two
are being undertaken by IBSTPI in association with the research center for
Tele-universite, Universite de Quebec (LICEF).
IMPLICATIONS OF COMPETENCIES FOR ONLINE TEACHING
current interest in competencies for online teaching is coming from business and
industry, primarily with regard to technical training and professional
development courses offered in online settings. It is quite likely that some of
the interest in competencies for online teaching is a result of hastily crafted
online courses and inadequate preparation of online facilitators. Clearly
technology offers the potential to create and implement highly engaging and
effective online environments to support a wide variety of learning goals. It is
also quite clear that our capacity to make effective use of information
technology in educational settings is impaired by inadequate preparation of
teachers (as well as learners) and by a shortage of properly trained
instructional designers and educational support personnel.
The development of competencies for online teaching should lead to the
associated development of training for online teachers and (in some cases) to
the certification of online teachers. To develop competencies for online
teachers is not without challenge. Competencies are dynamic in nature, and they
largely depend on the relevant social context (Le Boterf, 1994). The constant
transformation of IT makes the development of competencies for online teachers a
continuous process and demands continuing professional preparation and training
for online teachers. Such endeavors will improve our ability to make effective
use of technology in learning and instruction.
REFERENCES AND RELATED READINGS
Belisle, C., & Linard,
M. (1996). Quelles nouvelles competences des acteurs de la formation dans le
contexte des TIC? "Education Permanente" (127).
Branch, R. M., & Fitzgerald, M. A. (Eds.) (2001). "Educational media and
technology yearbook, 2001." Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and
Technology. ED 452 816
Calderhead, J. (1996). Teachers: Beliefs and knowledge. In D. Berliner &
R. Calfee (Eds.), "Handbook of Educational Psychology" (pp. 709-725). New York:
Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
Cyrs, T. (1997). Competence in teaching at a distance. "New Directions for
Teaching and Learning," 71, 15-18. EJ 554 107
Collison, G., Elbaum, B., Haavind, S., & Tinker, R. (2000). "Facilitating
online learning: Effective strategies for moderators." Madison, WI: Atwood
Publishing. ED 448 684
Goodyear, P. (2000). Online teaching. In N. Hativa & P. Goodyear (Eds.),
"Teacher thinking, beliefs and knowledge in higher education." Dordrecht:
Goodyear, P., Salmon, G., Spector, M., Steeples, C., & Tickner, S. (2001)
Competencies for online teaching. "Educational Technology Research &
Development" 49 (1), 65-72. IR 544 351
IMS Global Learning Consortium (2001). "Reusable Competency Definitions
Information Model." IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. Public draft available
online at http://www.imsproject.org/rcd/%20
Jones, C., Asensio, M., & Goodyear, P. (2000). Networked learning in
higher education: practitioner perspectives. "Journal of the Association for
Learning Technology," 8 (2).
Kearsely, G. (2000). "Online education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace."
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Le Boterf, G. (1994). "De la competence, essai sur un attracteur etrange."
Paris: Les editions d'organisation.
Le Boterf, G. (1998). Evaluer ses competences, quels jugements? Quells
criteres? quelles instances? "Education Permanente" (135).
Le Boterf, G. (2000). "L'ingenierie des competences," Second Edition. Paris:
Le Boterf, G. (2001). "Construire les competences individuelles et
collectives." Paris: Editions d'organisation.
Leinhardt, G. (1990). Capturing craft knowledge in teaching. "Educational
Researcher," 19 (2), 18-25. EJ 411 277
Levy-Leboyer, C. (1999). "La gestion des competences." Paris: Editions
Martinet, M. A., Raymond, D., & Gauthier, C. (2001). "La formation a
l'enseignement : les orientations : les competences professionnelles." Quebec:
Ministere de l'Education du Quebec.
Paquay, L., Altet, M., Charlier, E., and Perrenoud, P. (1998). "Former des
enseignants professionnels: quelles strategies? quelles competences?" Bruxelles:
De Boeck Universite. Second edition.
Pea, R. (Ed.) (2000). "The Jossey-Bass reader on technology and learning."
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ED 450 109
Richey, R. C., Fields, D. C., & Foxon, M. (with Roberts, R. C., Spannaus,
T. & Spector, J. M.) (2001). "Instructional design competencies: The
standards" (3rd ed.). Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and
Technology. ED 453 803
Rosenberg, M. J. (2001). "E-learning: Strategies for delivering knowledge in
the digital age." New York: McGraw Hill.
Salmon, G. (2000). "E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online."
London: Kogan Page.
Schoenfeld, A. (1998). Toward a theory of teaching-in-context. "Issues in
Education," 4 (1), 1-94.
Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., & Persichitte, K. (2000). Differential skills and
competencies required of faculty teaching distance education courses.
"International Journal of Educational Technology," 2 (1). EJ 6167 28
Spector, J. M., & Anderson, T. M. (Eds.) (2000). "Integrated and holistic
perspectives on learning, instruction and technology: Understanding complexity."
Thatch, E., & Murphy, K. (1995). Competencies for distance education
professionals. "Educational Technology Research and Development," 43 (1), 57-79.
EJ 501 723 RELATED WEB SITES
Centre de recherche LICEF, Tele-universite--A research center dedicated to
cognitive informatics and training environments with special interest, expertise
and tools related to distance education.
The Masie Center--An international e-lab and ThinkTank dedicated to exploring
the intersection of learning and technology.
Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion--A growing set
of resources for moderators of online discussion in both academic and
non-academic settings. http://www.emoderators.com/moderators.shtml%20
Specialization Program in International Online Education (SPICE)--Provides a
shared base of knowledge, skills, and values regarding online education and
TechnoCompetences--An organization that developed a dictionary and a profile
of competencies in the multimedia and telecommunications domains.
TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence (TLNCE)--Tracks leading
telelearning research advances in collaboration with university and industry
partners throughout the world. http://www.telelearn.ca/index.html%20
Vignettes for Training (VFT)--An e-learning consulting and systems
development company that assists clients with e-learning systems design and
implementation, content development and conversion, and web hosting.
Web-based Education Commission-Established by the U.S. Congress to develop
policy recommendations geared toward maximizing the educational promise of the
Internet for pre-K, elementary, middle, secondary, and postsecondary education