Sheffield, McSweeney, & Panych (2015). Exploring Future Teachers’ Awareness, Competence, Confidence, and Attitudes Regarding Teaching Online.

Sheffield, S. L.-M., McSweeney, J. M., & Panych, A. (2015). Exploring Future Teachers’ Awareness, Competence, Confidence, and Attitudes Regarding Teaching Online: Incorporating Blended/Online Experience into the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Course for Graduate Students. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 45(3), 1-14.
[This paper disappointed in a number of ways. It does not clearly define the characteristics of online ‘interactions’ that were being studied. Using terms such as ‘discussion,’ for example, for what was likely a text chat indicates the writer has fallen into the trap of technology euphemisms. Terms such as ‘internet surfing’ can be seen as archaic and even naive. Even ‘online’ falls short. Dismissing skeptics as ‘naysayers’ doesn’t help. There appears to be no critical or cautious consideration of the incursion of ‘technology’ into the classroom or even its necessity. –oki]

[“Abstract” …]

“… prompted by the recognition that teaching assistants and faculty are increasingly required to teach online or blended (i.e., combining face-to-face and online) courses. … Students recognized the value of the online component for future teaching expertise and experienced increased awareness, competence, and confidence regarding teaching online. However, preference for face-to-face teaching and student learning did not change.” (p 1)

[“How the Project Began” …]

“As the instructor for the course, I recognized that I was doing students a disservice by not incorporating technology as a more integral component of the course, especially as some of the students in the class were already working in the online environment as teaching assistants.” (p 2)

“Incorporating an online component within CNLT 5000 would allow me to include the technology naysayers in this journey …” (p 2)

[“Introduction” …]

“Faculty have proven resistant to online teaching and learning, in part because they believe that their educational culture and values are threatened by this change. Concerns about online teaching also include increasing workloads, lack of resources, compensation and intellectual property issues, inadequate technological skills and training, anxiety about or lack of confidence with technology, and pedagogical concerns for the effectiveness of student [page break] learning in the online environment (Bennett & Lockyer, 2004; Hunt, Davies, Richardson, Hammock, Akins, & Russ, 2014; Johnson, Wisniewski, Kuhlemeyer, Isaacs, & Krzykowski, 2012; Power & Gould-Morven, 2011).” (p 3-4)

“Despite increasing demand for this approach and evidence that online learning can be as effective as face-to-face (Hawkins, Graham, & Barbour, 2012; King, 2002) …” (p 4)

“To ensure faculty buy-in and ability, a number of authors have argued that early career faculty need to be made aware of approaches to, and competencies necessary for, online and blended teaching and learning, and they need to understand how to design a course space using a learning management system (LMS) interface (Hixon, Barczyk, Buckenmeyer, & Feldman, 2011; Lane, 2013). In addition, it is recommended that they: (i) be provided with opportunities to consider their own teaching styles and roles in the online context; (ii) realize that they need to create collaborative, student-centred learning approaches; and (iii) learn how to develop an online presence, rapport, and sense of community to ensure successful learning (Bennett & Lockyer, 2004; Bigatel, Ragan, Kennan, May, & Redmond, 2012; Garrison, 2009; Hawkins et al., 2012; King, 2002; McQuiggan, 2012).” (p 4)

“Lane (2013) has argued for the value in learning to teach online in an open web course, in order to obtain first-hand experience and receive a ‘deeper preparation for teaching online through an authentic experience in the online environment’ …” (p. 3);

“To our knowledge, no research has assessed the awareness, competence, confidence, and attitudes of _future_ faculty or teaching assistants towards online and blended teaching. … In this course, the instructors set up online student-led discussions, where part of the goal was to assist students in experiencing active learning in various ways in order to change students’ view of authority.” (p 5)

[“Method” …]

[“Participants and Procedure” …]

“… _conducting_ and _participating in_ the online facilitation. … to create an interactive exercise …” (p 6)

“… navigating and interacting in the online environment …” (p 6)

[“Results” …]

“… Internet surfing …” (p 6)

“… online material …” (p 6)

“‘[There] wasn’t a lot of interaction,’ and another wrote, ‘[N]ot many students chose to actually participate.’ In the blended context, a few comments suggested that ‘face-to-face interaction with [the] instructor is more efficient.'” (p 7)

“Students were almost unanimous (86%, n = 18) that their experiences with facilitating an online activity would necessitate changing their teaching styles, and they raised concerns of communication challenges and limitations in online environments that do not exist face-to-face. … online facilitation …” (p 7)

“… blended environment …”

[“Post-Facilitation Survey Results” …]

“… Dalhousie’s LMS-Blackboard Learn …” (p 8)

“… ‘[p]eople pay more attention to what you are saying [online] (and also respond more to it).'” (p 8)

“… teaching style would change for online teaching, … Participants noted that the online environment did not allow for demos, was more structured, and that ‘it’s much harder to communicate nuance in the online environment—things like excitement [and] humour … are lost.'” (p 9)

[“Discussion and Conclusions” …]

“We need to prepare TAs and future teachers to design effective online learning environments, … online presence …” (p 10)

[“Post-Survey Reflections” …]

“While I still preferred to teach face-to-face, I saw the possibilities and the advantages to teaching online and blended courses. Several facts were clear online and in class: the asynchronous mode of participation allowed for time to think before responding; thoughtful exchanges resulted; there was a visible increase in students’ participation in discussions about teaching and learning; and second-language learners and quieter students were more vocal online. These discussions bled over into classroom discussion. It was as if we were engaging together all week instead of for only three hours a week in class. From an immersive perspective, this was great, although students complained about the time commitment. … I found the commitment to continually check in to the site onerous, but the experience was enjoyable once I was online. … anticipation …” (p 11)

Selected References

  • Bennett, S., & Lockyer, L. (2004). Becoming an online teacher: Adapting to a changed environment for teaching and learning in higher education. Educational Media International, 41(3), 231-248.
  • Bigatel, P. M., Ragan, L. C., Kennan, S., May, J., & Redmond, B. F. (2012). The identification of competencies for online teaching success. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(1), 59-78.
  • Garrison, D. R. (2009). Implications of online learning for the conceptual development and practice of distance education. Journal of Distance Education, 23(2), 93-104.
  • Hawkins, A., Graham, C. R., & Barbour, M. K. (2012). “Everybody is their own island”: Teacher disconnection in a virtual school. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(2), 123-144.
  • Hixon, E., Barczyk, C., Buckenmeyer, J., & Feldman, L. (2011). Mentoring university faculty to become high quality online educators: A program evaluation. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 14(4). Retrieved from winter144/hixon_Barczyk_Buckenmeyer_feldman144.html
  • Hunt, H. D., Davies, K., Richardson, D., Hammock, G., Akins, M., & Russ, L. (2014). It is (more) about the students: Faculty motivations and concerns regarding teaching online. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 17(2). Retrieved from
  • Johnson, T., Wisniewski, M. A., Kuhlemeyer, G., Isaacs, G., & Krzykowski, J. (2012). Technology adoption in higher education: Overcoming anxiety through faculty bootcamp. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 63-71.
  • King, K. P. (2002). Identifying success in online teacher education and professional development. The Internet and Higher Education, 5, 231-246.
  • Lane, L. (2013). An open, online class to prepare faculty to teach online. Journal of Online Educators, 10(1). Retrieved from
  • McQuiggan, C. A. (2012). Faculty development for online teaching as a catalyst for change. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 27-61.
  • Power, M., & Gould-Morven, A. (2011). Head of gold, feet of clay: The online learning paradox. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(2), 19-39. Retrieved from


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