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 online 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 design, 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 professional development, is one of the key focus areas for the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE).
Emerging Model of Competency Development
The online community of practice at SUNY relies on the experience and expertise of SUNY online practitioners from across the system, including online faculty, instructional designers, librarians, technologists, etc. 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 are 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 earn accredited certification in online education. To meet our goals, we have developed a model for online education competency development that targets the various roles involved identified in our community of online practitioners with a comprehensive curriculum that scaffolds and promotes a culture continuous online improvements, ongoing and iterative professional development, and a commitment to online teaching and course design quality. The curriculum empowers online practitioners by providing them with a wide breadth and depth of opportunities in readily accessible formats.
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 offer a comprehensive collection of easy-to-consume online resources to help develop a common vocabulary and understanding of online education at SUNY.
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 is committed to provide professional development opportunities including options that campuses can adopt as needed to develop or supplement their training. Open SUNY COTE has developed and supports online faculty development and course design workshop content that can be shared system-wide for adoption or adaptation.
Advanced Skills: Advanced Online Competency Development for Experienced Online Practitioners
The power of SUNY’s extensive network of online practitioners includes faculty, librarians, technologists, instructional designers, developers, etc., 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 and innovations. Open SUNY COTE supports online practitioners in developing expertise by leveraging the power of the community to share knowledge and by developing professional development certificate programs, as well as partnerships with national associations to make available non-credit certifications. Professional development paths for advanced online practitioners are tied to the various roles played by experienced online practitioners in our community, and a comprehensive advanced curriculum has been articulated to support our culture of continuous online improvement and commitment to online teaching and learning quality.
Multiple Certification Paths
We recognize that online practitioners may want to leverage their experiential learning and additional course work to earn accredited certification 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.
Partnership with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
Open SUNY COTE’s competency development offerings and the OSCQR rubric, dashboard, and process, which were developed with the input of the Open SUNY ID community, COTE Community volunteer work teams, and SUNY campuses, are the focus of a partnership with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) that began in 2016.
This partnership gives us the opportunity to engage in online competency development and certification opportunities within the context of the larger OLC community of national and international online teaching and learning practitioners. The adoption of our online certificate programs, such as Open SUNY COTE’s online instructional designer certificate program through the OLC Institute, is a recognition of the caliber of our professional development efforts, and provides a national platform from which to contribute to the professionalization and recognition of the various roles and competencies of online practitioners.
Our Hope for the Future
Open SUNY is a leader in online teaching and learning, innovation, and large-scale faculty development. We are 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.