An investigation of effective online teaching: a needs analysis of online educators and online students

Farrell, Orna, Brunton, James, Brunton, Eamon, Donlon, Enda, Trevaskis, Samantha and Ní Shé, Caitriona (2019) An investigation of effective online teaching: a needs analysis of online educators and online students.


This work arises from the #Openteach: Professional Development for Open Online Educators project, which is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The #Openteach project team are based in the Open Education Unit (OEU) at Dublin City University (DCU). Formally known as the National Distance Education Centre and subsequently Oscail, the OEU is a provider of online, off-campus programmes through the DCU Connected platform.
Throughout the years the mode of delivery moved gradually from that of a traditional distance education provider to incorporate more elements of online learning. A significant step in this process came in 2011, with the introduction of synchronous live online tutorials and the electronic delivery of modules in a virtual learning environment (Delaney & Farren, 2016; Farrell & Seery, 2019). Following an open and online
learning philosophy, the OEU aims to afford educational opportunities to students who have not managed to access more traditional entry routes into higher education.

The main aim of the #Openteach project is to produce, and evaluate, evidence-based open professional development for part-time online educators. In an earlier phase of the project a synthesis of the relevant literature was completed in order to identify online educator roles and the associated competencies for effective online teaching.
Concurrently, we conducted a needs analysis of the target population, online students and their online educators based in the OEU. This report contains the outcomes of this needs analysis and will be used, along with the literature synthesis, to guide the development of the professional development resources and course to be implemented in later stages of the project.

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