The professional engagement model of academic induction into on-line teaching
Current developments in tertiary education settings are resulting in a second wave of academics using on-line technologies in their teaching, providing universities with a considerable professional staff development challenge. The case study presented here illustrates one way of responding to this challenge. Overall, the literature suggests that professional development that is discipline-specific and located in a community-of-practice is more likely to be relevant and productive than a centralized, decontextualized approach. We propose an alternative hybrid model of 'professional engagement' for on-line teaching that attempts to build on existing discipline-specific workplace structures. This includes recruiting academic on-line teaching advisers for each school in the faculty, showcasing existing exemplary practice, and setting up 'professional engagement groups' with a support team. The main advantages of the model are its responsiveness to patterns of academic work and to the immediate needs of academics, the way it enhances the visibility of exemplars of academic work, its cost-effectiveness and scalability, and the complementarity of local and centralized support systems. Limitations include the time needed to build up such staff engagement, an apparent lack of visibility, and difficulty in measuring outcomes.