Faculty Development is a crucial and vital component to any online college or university. Faculty Development to a university is what Training and Development is to an organization. Both share the same goal - to train and develop new skills and to improve overall performance.

There are five major components that are required for an online Faculty Development Program to be successful. They are as follows:

1) New Faculty Orientation Training

2) Teach-the-Teacher Training

3) Faculty Development Webinars

4) Quality Assurance/Classroom Observations

5) Professional Development Administration

Each of these five components will be discussed in great detail.

Component #1: New Faculty Orientation
The New Faculty Orientation is designed to train new faculty to become acquainted and acclimated to their new job as an online instructor. In addition to learning the specific online format, the new faculty will receive training on various university procedures for teaching in an online environment.

Training during the new faculty orientation may include the procedures on how to participate and respond to the weekly discussion board, identify and react to various academic integrity issues, administer student incompletes, recognize and curb grade inflation issues, identify and utilize the grading rubrics, create and display the faculty profile, and build and set up the online shell for the first day of class.

Prior to teaching their first online course, faculty should be assigned to a seasoned faculty to shadow to serve as a practice course. During this time, the new faculty can become better acclimated to the online environment, ask questions, and get clarity on issues or concerns they may have before their first teaching assignment.

Component #2: Teach-the-Teacher Training
This component involves teaching faculty on how to become a more effective and dynamic online instructor. During the Teach-the-Teacher Training, faculty are introduced to various teaching methodologies that have been proven to be highly effective in an online environment.

This type of training may include how to properly utilizing the weekly discussion board, create and set up classroom announcements, grade assignments in correlation with the grading rubrics, handle student complaints and grievance procedures, deal effectively with difficult students, and administer various types of academic integrity issues.

Component #3: Quality Assurance/Classroom Observations
This component is critical in determining the effectiveness and level of quality faculty are delivering in the classroom. Classroom Observations should be conducted each term and especially with new faculty.

Identifying what faculty are doing correctly or incorrectly in their online classroom is an important factor that must be done in order to maintain the highest level of quality. Those faculty who are not meeting the classroom standards and expectations should be coached and mentored one-on-one and provided with an action plan indicating areas that are in need of improvement.

Component #4: Faculty Development Webinars
This component involves introducing various Faculty Development Webinars for faculty to attend that will earn them professional development credits.

Various topics such as Principles of Adult Learning, Dealing with Difficult Students, Preventing Academic Dishonesty, and Learning Styles are just a few of the many topics that can be developed and delivered to faculty through various technical formats several times a year.

These webinars usually serve as a major educational resource for new faculty as well as a refresher for seasoned faculty.

Component #5: Professional Development Administration
This component involves making sure that all full time and adjunct faculty are successfully completing their required annual professional development and CEUs. This includes maintaining the faculty files and professional development events that each faculty has attended over the year.

Faculty Development serves as a major quality assurance factor for universities and colleges and should be viewed as more of a necessity than a luxury. There are many instructors coming out of college who are now teaching for the first time. Universities can not assume that just because they have a graduate degree, they know how to teach.

An effective Faculty Development Program should be implemented in every university that is interested in providing an exceptional educational experience for their students. Since the faculty are always considered to be "the product" in any university, the better the faculty delivers their teaching methodologies in the online classroom, the better the level of student satisfaction and retention.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Al Infande is currently the Online Human Resources Lead Faculty at Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama. He is also the President of Infande Associates, Inc., a full service consulting firm providing Human Resources/Training and Development programs for business and industry. Dr. Infande also serves as a University Professor at several colleges and universities where he teaches courses in Human Resources Management. Dr. Infande has earned several Ph.D.s in the areas of Organizational Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and Human Resources Development. He has developed and delivered an array of seminars and workshops for both academicians and corporate executives. During his career, he has written several publications in the areas of Adult Education, Training and Development, and Stress Management.