Competency Development

We believe that successful, effective, and satisfied online instructors should have the opportunity for reflection, the opportunity to observe and interact with experienced exemplar online faculty and their courses, the opportunity to experiment in an online environment to explore the student perspective, time to devote to their professional development, a comprehensive, customized professional development plan, access to online instructional design expertise, guidelines and research-based standards for online course development, access to best practices in online teaching, and broad institutional support. Ensuring that all SUNY’s online educators have access to a supportive community, and to opportunities for development, is one of the key focus areas for Open SUNY.

Emerging Model of Competency Development

The online community of practice at SUNY relies on the experience and expertise of SUNY faculty and instructional designers. Our aim is to ensure all members have opportunities to continue developing and improving their knowledge, practices, and expertise in the areas of online teaching and learning that resonate most with them. Offerings will be tailored to support all SUNY faculty and staff, ranging from those merely curious about online education to those looking to develop specialized skills or to gain accreditation in online education. To meet our goals, we have developed a model for online education competency development that empowers online practitioners by providing them with a wide breadth and depth of opportunities in readily accessible formats.


Understanding online teaching & learning

SUNY has been an innovator in online education for over 20 years and has a distinctive SUNY approach to teaching & learning online. We understand the difficulty faculty and staff who are new to online education encounter when trying to understand how online education at SUNY is different from traditional face-to-face instruction. To meet this need — whether around determining if online teaching is right for them, or determining how best to support online education at their campus, or satisfying curiosity about online education — we will offer a comprehensive collection of easy-to-consume online resources to help develop a common vocabulary and understanding of online education at SUNY.

Core online competency development

Many SUNY campuses have traditionally followed an online faculty development and course design model that takes place the semester prior to course delivery, with training conducted either by the campus or by the SUNY Learning Network (SLN). Open SUNY will evolve and improve upon that model by developing multiple best practice professional development formats that campuses can adopt as needed to develop or supplement their training. Open SUNY will also aim to develop (or collaborate with campuses to develop) modularized core competency-based faculty development and course design workshop content that can be shared system-wide for adoption or adaptation.

Advanced online competency development

The power of SUNY’s extensive network of online practitioners is driven by our ability to develop deep specialized expertise in specific disciplines, our embrace of multiple pedagogical approaches, and our expertise in a wide variety of instructional and emerging technologies. Open SUNY aims to support faculty in developing this expertise by leveraging the power of the community to share knowledge and by developing partnerships with research universities and comprehensive colleges to make available advanced accredited courses.

Multiple certification paths

We recognize that online practitioners may want to leverage their experiential learning and additional course work to earn accreditation in areas of interest. To this end, Open SUNY aims to strike agreements with SUNY campuses to provide pathways for online practitioners to earn graduate-level certifications in various areas, including online pedagogy, instructional design, and online teaching. These pathways will also enable practitioners to elect to officially contribute time towards high-need expertise areas in the SUNY system, such as instructional design.

Our Hope for the Future

shutterstock_119485060_plantOpen SUNY aims to be a leader in online teaching and learning, innovation, and large-scale faculty development. We will be an excellent example of a uniquely successful SUNY-wide program that effectively encourages and supports the diffusion of online teaching and learning innovations, research-based online teaching and learning best practices, and the adoption of online teaching and technology-enhanced instruction across the SUNY system. Through a comprehensive plan for online competency development that is produced and implemented collaboratively with SUNY campuses, we aim to grow the number of online practitioners at SUNY, cultivate deeper online education expertise among our members, and strengthen our peer-to-peer network. Together we are better than any one of us on our own. Our community is enriched by the diversity that SUNY embodies.