Catholic Distance University and the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) are partnering to offer IFCU faculty members worldwide a course titled Teaching in a Digital World.
CDU’s faculty members are eager to share their knowledge with colleagues whose classes have suddenly moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDU, the only exclusively online Catholic university, has been accredited to offer distance education since 1986 and has delivered online programs for 20 years. Faculty members are well versed in best practices in online teaching and have many years of successful teaching experience in the online environment.
The 4-week, 10-hour course features Dr. Marie Nuar, Dr. Peter Brown, Alissa Thorell, and Kathy Vestermark presenting various elements of online teaching. President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount teaches the theory, research, pedagogy, and theology of distance education. Other topics covered include practical techniques of best practices for successful teaching online, course design, use of media, interaction, and student support. During the course, participants can develop a course of their own design on the Canvas learning platform and have many opportunities to dialogue with CDU faculty.
The first course was offered in June and included faculty from the following countries and territories: Spain, Philippines, Belgium, Chile, Sierra Leone, Puerto Rico, Palestine, Congo DR, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, India, and Mexico. The course will be offered to IFCU members again in July, September, and October and will then be offered to anyone who wishes to enroll.
Many faculty members accustomed to classroom teaching find the online environment a challenge both for themselves and for their students. In some cases, students have internet connectivity issues, and both teachers and students have a learning curve with the adaptation to a learning management system. There is a great interest in learning how to humanize and foster a sense of community especially in a Catholic university environment. Some faculty have expressed concerns about a lack of student engagement, the effects of social isolation on students, cultural differences, and potential learning loss. Teaching in a Digital World is designed to give faculty members the expertise and knowledge they need to teach online with confidence while fostering interaction, engagement, and strong learning outcomes for students.