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THE BENEFITS OF UNIFYING GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANT TRAINING FOR ONLINE TEACHING

The Online Learning Council’s (OLC) purpose is to improve and enhance the academic experience at Drexel University through better use of technology, assessment, innovative teaching approaches, collaborative course reviews, and professional development. The OLC has grown to 100 members from across the University and includes faculty, administrators, technical instructional design staff and teaching assistants. A primary focus of OLC has been faculty development. To date approximately 10-15% of faculty members have participated in training on best practices for online teaching.

Teaching assistants (TAs) are generally doctoral students who assist professors with teaching in exchange for tuition and mentoring. The University has approximately 2,000 teaching assistants. TAs provide essential course delivery services to undergraduate students and are an important interface between the undergraduate student and the department. Recently, these teaching assistants have expressed interest in being trained for online teaching. As professors increasingly employ a hybrid course delivery format or use the University’s online learning management system for support of on-campus classes, it is important for TAs to become familiar with navigating a new environment. Online teaching skills are relevant to their present role, as well as, their professional development towards becoming young academics. Online teaching competencies are considered essential skill sets for contemporary faculty and providing these opportunities to teaching assistants prepares them to assume faculty roles.

The focus of this presentation is to address the benefits of integrating teaching assistants into Drexel’s initiatives related to online course quality. These quality measures are based on the Quality Matters© Standards and the Drexel University Core Design Element Checklist. The presentation will focus on how including teaching assistant training for online teaching benefits the student, faculty, program, university as well as the teaching assistant.