A professional learning program for novice online teachers: Application of professional development guidelines using threshold concepts and online learning perceptions

Maria Northcote, Kevin P Gosselin, Peter Kilgour, Daniel Reynaud, Catherine McLoughlin


The professional development of online teachers is now commonplace in most universities. Alongside the relatively straightforward decision to provide professional learning support for novice and experienced online educators within universities, decisions about the nature and content of such support are not always as clear cut. The study aimed to gather evidence about the experiences and views of current students and staff which, in turn, informed a set of pedagogical guidelines that could be used as the basis of professional learning programs for novice online teachers. Using a mixed methods research design, data were gathered using questionnaires, reflective journals and focus groups to determine the threshold concepts about online teaching, and perceptions of ideal online learning contexts. As well as identifying threshold concepts about online teaching and perceptions of teachers’ and students’ ideal views of online learning contexts (reported elsewhere), the study produced curricular guidelines to inform the design of professional development outputs for online teachers in higher education contexts. This article reports on an example of how these professional development guidelines were implemented at one higher education institution to provide wide-scale implementation of a professional development program for academic staff engaged in online teaching.


threshold concepts, online teaching, professional development curricula

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v23i4.1573

Copyright (c) 2019 Maria Northcote, Kevin P Gosselin, Peter Kilgour, Daniel Reynaud, Catherine McLoughlin

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/