New ‘Digital Drivers License’ aims to help prepare instructors to teach digital natives

digital-teaching-certificateThe School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA) at Saint Mary’s College has announced the launch of a Digital Driver’s License (DDL) program, aimed at ensuring quality of hybrid and online courses.

The  new initiative is designed to help professors navigate what the college explains are the challenges of teaching online courses, as well as ensure all faculty in the school’s hybrid online programs are certified as “digitally proficient” teachers for today’s virtual classroom.

The goal of the DDL program is to prepare experienced educators in the school’s MBA programs–some of whom are more accustomed to teaching in traditional face-to-face classroom settings–how to effectively engage and interact with today’s generation of online students, who are often described as digital natives.

“Saint Mary’s has a unique teaching mission, and the DDL helps insure that mission is carried into the new and rapidly expanding frontier of online education,” said Management Professor Barry Eckhouse, who directs the new program. “The DDL is a distinctive example of professional development that digitally empowers our already outstanding faculty and prepares them for a very different kind of educational environment, and some would argue, a different kind of student.”

The program’s coursework requires faculty use of a new digital media center specifically designed for the initiative. It includes instruction in managing virtual interactions, real-time voice-enabled web conferencing and virtual breakout groups, and online discussion sessions.

Participants will also develop proficiency in producing new media content, such as podcasts, digital voice grading and creating virtual learning exercises using 3D tools similar to those used in the development of electronic games and computer simulations.

After completing the coursework, faculty members will receive a DDL certificate acknowledging their pedagogical abilities as online educators.

“As more online programs emerge in the MBA marketplace, including MOOCs, institutions that distinguish themselves with online offerings must clearly show that their professors have the ability to teach in both four wall classrooms and the online environment,” said SEBA Dean Zhan Li. “The Digital Driver’s License program reflects the College’s student-centered tradition and teaching mission and provides assurance to our students that professors who instruct online are certified to teach in the virtual environment.”

Approximately 34 faculty members are expected to earn their Digital Driver’s License over a two-year period. Faculty in the program include professors in the school’s Hybrid Executive MBA, M.S. in Accounting and M.S. in Financial Analysis and Investment Management programs.

The program begins Nov. 17, 2014.

For more information about SEBA’s Digital Driver’s License contact Professor Eckhouse at (925) 631-4262 or by email at beckhous@stmarys-ca.edu.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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