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Online Roles of Faculty and Students: Changing the Way We Teach. Curt Bonk, Indiana University (and [email protected] Are You Ready???.

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Online Roles of Faculty and Students: Changing the Way We Teach

Curt Bonk, Indiana University


[email protected]

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Administrators and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are debating what could become a $100-million effort to create extensive World Wide Web pages for nearly every course the university offers.

Jeffrey R. Young, March 1, 2001, The Chronicle of Higher Ed

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Faculty Entrepreneurship Institute of Technology are debating what could become a $100-million effort to create extensive World Wide Web pages for nearly every course the university offers.

Douglas Rowlett has turned his English-department office into a virtual radio station that broadcasts continuously on the Internet, offering a mix of poetry readings, lectures, and popular music. He plans to deliver entire courses over the Internet radio station.

Jeffrey R. Young (Jan 8., 2001). Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Faculty Entrepreneurship? Institute of Technology are debating what could become a $100-million effort to create extensive World Wide Web pages for nearly every course the university offers.

Santa Clara University has fired an adjunct instructor who sold his students thousands of dollars worth of stock in an online-education venture that appears to never have gotten off the ground.

Sarah Carr, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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What Percent of Time Teach Online? Institute of Technology are debating what could become a $100-million effort to create extensive World Wide Web pages for nearly every course the university offers.

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Administrative: Support!!!

“Lack of admin vision.”

“Lack of incentive from admin and the fact that they do not understand the time needed.”

“Lack of system support.”

“Little recognition that this is valuable.”

“Rapacious U intellectual property policy.”

“Unclear univ. policies concerning int property.”


“Difficulty in performing lab experiments online.”

“Lack of appropriate models for pedagogy.”


“More ideas than time to implement.”

“Not enough time to correct online assign.”

“People need sleep; Web spins forever.”

Problems Faced

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Training Support!!!Outside Support

  • Training (

  • Courses & Certificates (JIU, e-education)

  • Reports, Newsletters, & Pubs

  • Aggregators of Info(CourseShare, Merlot)

  • Global Forums (; GEN)

  • Resources, Guides/Tips, Link Collections, Online Journals, Library Resources

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Certified Online Instructor Program Support!!!

  • Walden Institute—12 Week Online Certification (Cost = $995)

  • 2 tracks: one for higher ed and one for online corporate trainer

    • Online tools and purpose

    • Instructional design theory & techniques

    • Distance ed evaluation

    • Quality assurance

    • Collab learning communities

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Inside Support… Support!!!

  • Instructional Consulting

  • Mentoring (strategic planning $)

  • Small Pots of Funding

  • Help desks, institutes, 1:1, tutorials

  • Summer and Year Round Workshops

  • Office of Distributed Learning

  • Colloquiums, Tech Showcases, Guest Speakers

    • Newsletters, guides, active learning grants, annual reports, faculty development, brown bags, other professional development

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Four Key Hats of Instructors: Support!!!

  • Technical—do students have basics? Does their equipment work? Passwords work?

  • Managerial—Do students understand the assignments and course structure?

  • Pedagogical—How are students interacting, summarizing, debating, thinking?

  • Social—What is the general tone? Is there a human side to this course? Joking allowed?

  • Other: firefighter, convener, weaver, tutor, conductor, host, mediator, filter, editor, facilitator, negotiator, e-police, concierge, marketer, assistant, etc.

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Study of Four Classes Support!!!(Bonk, Kirkley, Hara, & Dennen, 2001)

  • Technical—Train, early tasks, be flexible, orientation task

  • Managerial—Initial meeting, FAQs, detailed syllabus, calendar, post administrivia, assign e-mail pals, gradebooks, email updates

  • Pedagogical—Peer feedback, debates, PBL, cases, structured controversy, field reflections, portfolios, teams, inquiry, portfolios

  • Social—Café, humor, interactivity, profiles, foreign guests, digital pics, conversations, guests

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E-Moderator Support!!!

  • Refers to online teaching and facilitation role. Moderating used to mean to preside over a meeting or a discussion, but in the electronic world, it means more than that. It is all roles combined—to hold meetings, to encourage, to provide information, to question, to summarize, etc. (Collins & Berge, 1997; Gilly Salmon, 2000); see

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Other Hats Support!!!

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Online Concierge Support!!!

  • To provide support and information on request (perhaps a map of the area…) (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Personal Learning Trainer Support!!!

  • Learners need a personal trainer to lead them through materials and networks, identify relevant materials and advisors and ways to move forward (Mason, 1998; Salmon, 2000).

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E-Police Support!!!

  • While one hopes you will not call yourself this nor find the need to make laws and enforce them, you will need some Code of Practice or set procedures, and protocols for e-moderators (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Online Conductor Support!!!

  • The pulling together of a variety of resources as people as in an orchestra to produce beautiful integrated sound or perhaps electrical current conductors if your conferences are effective and flow along, there will be energy, excitement, and power (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Convener Support!!!

  • A term that is used especially with online conferences and courses where there is a fairly sizable audience (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Online Negotiator Support!!!

  • Where knowledge construction online is desired, the key role for the e-moderator is one of negotiating the meaning of activities and information throughout online discussion and construction (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Online Host Support!!!

  • The social role of online working is important so there may be a need for a social host or hostess. They do not need to run social events online (though they may) but ensure everyone is greeted and introduced to others with like-minded interests (Gilly Salmon, 2000).

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Other Hats Support!!!

  • Weaver—linking comments/threads

  • Tutor—individualized attention

  • Participant—joint learner

  • Provocateur—stir the pot (& calm flames)

  • Observer—watch ideas and events unfold

  • Mentor—personally apprentice students

  • Community Organizer—keep system going

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Assistant Support!!!

Devil’s advocate













Still More Hats

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Reality: Support!!!






Ideal World:






Activity: Pick a Online Instruction Metaphor from 40 Options

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Online Mentoring and Assistance Online Support!!!

Twelve forms of electronic learning mentoring and assistance(Bonk & Kim, 1998; Tharp, 1993; Bonk et al., 2001)

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1. Social (and cognitive) Acknowledgement: Support!!!"Hello...," "I agree with everything said so far...," "Wow, what a case," "This case certainly has provoked a lot of discussion...," "Glad you could join us..."

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2. Questioning: Support!!!"What is the name of this concept...?," "Another reason for this might be...?," "An example of this is...," "In contrast to this might be...,""What else might be important here...?," "Who can tell me....?," "How might the teacher..?." "What is the real problem here...?," "How is this related to...?,“, "Can you justify this?"

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3. Direct Instruction: Support!!!"I think in class we mentioned that...," Chapter ‘X’ talks about...," "Remember back to the first week of the semester when we went over ‘X’ which indicated that..."

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4. Modeling/Examples: Support!!!"I think I solved this sort of problem once when I...," "Remember that video we saw on ‘X’ wherein ‘Y’ decided to...," "Doesn't ‘X’ give insight into this problem in case ‘Z’ when he/she said..."

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5. Feedback/Praise: Support!!!"Wow, I'm impressed...," "That shows real insight into...," "Are you sure you have considered...," "Thanks for responding to ‘X’...," "I have yet to see you or anyone mention..."

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6. Cognitive Task Structuring: Support!!!"You know, the task asks you to do...," "Ok, as was required, you should now summarize the peer responses that you have received...," "How might the textbook authors have solved this case."

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7. Cognitive Elaborations/Explanations: Support!!!"Provide more information here that explains your rationale," "Please clarify what you mean by...," "I'm just not sure what you mean by...," "Please evaluate this solution a little more carefully."

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8. Push to Explore: Support!!!"You might want to write to Dr. ‘XYZ’ for...," "You might want to do an ERIC search on this topic...," "Perhaps there is a URL on the Web that addresses this topic..."

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9. Fostering Reflection/Self Awareness: Support!!!"Restate again what the teacher did here," "How have you seen this before?," "When you took over this class, what was the first thing you did?," "Describe how your teaching philosophy will vary from this...," "How might an expert teacher handle this situation?"

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10. Encouraging Articulation/Dialogue Prompting: Support!!!"What was the problem solving process the teacher faced here?," "Does anyone have a counterpoint or alternative to this situation?," "Can someone give me three good reasons why...," "It still seems like something is missing here, I just can't put my finger on it."

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11. General Advice/Scaffolding/Suggestions: Support!!! "If I were in her shoes, I would...," "Perhaps I would think twice about putting these people into...," "I know that I would first...," "How totally ridiculous this all is; certainly the “person” should be able to provide some..."

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12. Management (via private e-mail or discussion): Support!!!"Don't just criticize....please be sincere when you respond to your peers," "If you had put your case in on time, you would have gotten more feedback." "If you do this again, we will have to take away your privileges."

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Participant Categories Support!!!

  • Web Resource Finder

  • Starter-Wrapper

  • Researcher

  • Online Journal Editor

  • Expert Resource Gatherer

  • Technology Reviewer

  • Mentor/Expert

  • Instructor

  • Seeker/Questioner

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Role 1: Starter/Mediator Support!!!Reporter/Commentator

  • Summarizes the key terms, ideas, and issues in the chapters, supplemental instructor notes, journal articles, and other assigned readings and asks thought provoking questions typically before one’s peers read or discuss the concepts and ideas. In effect, the starter is a reporter or commentator or teacher of what to expect in the upcoming readings or activities. Once the “start” is posted, this student acts as a mediator or facilitator of discussion for the week.

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Role 2: Wrapper/Summarizer Support!!!Synthesizer/Connector/Reviewer

  • Connects ideas, synthesizes discussion, interrelates comments, and links both explicit and implicit ideas posed in online discussion or other activities. Here, the student looks for patterns and themes in online coursework while weaving information together. The wrapping or summarizing is done at least at the end of the week or unit, but preferably two or more times depending on the length of the activity.

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Role 3: Conqueror or Debater/Arguer/Bloodletter Support!!!

  • Takes ideas into action, debates with others, persists in arguments and never surrenders or compromises nomatter what the casualties are when addressing any problem or issue.

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Role 4: Devil's Advocate or Critic/Censor/Confederate Support!!!

  • Takes opposite points of view for the sake of an argument and is an antagonist when addressing any problem posed. This might be a weekly role that is secretly assigned.

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Role 5: Idea Squelcher/Biased/Preconceiver Support!!!

  • Squelches good and bad ideas of others and submits your own prejudiced or biased ideas during online discussions and other situations. Forces others to think. Is that person you really hate to work with.

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Role 6: Optimist/Open-minded/Idealist Support!!!

  • In this role, the student notes what appears to be feasible, profitable, ideal, and "sunny" ideas when addressing this problem. Always sees the bright or positive side of the situation.

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Role 7: Emotional/Sensitive/Intuitive Support!!!

  • Comments with the fire and warmth of emotions, feelings, hunches, and intuitions when interacting with others, posting comments, or addressing problems.

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Role 8: Idea Generator Creative Energy/Inventor Support!!!

  • Brings endless energy to online conversations and generates lots of fresh ideas and new perspectives to the conference when addressing issues and problems.

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Role 9: Questioner/Ponderer/Protester Support!!!

  • Role is to question, ponder, and protest the ideas of others and the problem presented itself. Might assume a radical or ultra-liberal tone.

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Role 10: Coach Facilitator/Inspirer/Trainer Support!!!

  • Offers hints, clues, supports, and highly motivational speeches to get everyone fired-up or at least one lost individual back on track when addressing a problem or situation.

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Role 11: Controller/Executive Director/CEO/Leader Support!!!

  • In this role, the student oversees the process, reports overall findings and opinions, and attempts to control the flow of information, findings, suggestions, and general problem solving.

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Role 12: Slacker/Slough/Slug/Surfer Dude Support!!!

  • In this role, the student does little or nothing to help him/herself or his/her peers learn. Here, one can only sit back quietly and listen, make others do all the work for you, and generally have a laid back attitude (i.e., go to the beach) when addressing this problem.

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Activity: Pick a Role Or Role Taking Task Support!!!Name a role missing from this sheet and discuss how you might use it(see Bonk’s 28 roles)

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Web Facilitation??? Support!!!Berge Collins AssociatesMauri Collins and Zane L. Berge

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Changing Role of the Teacher Support!!!The Online Teacher, TAFE, Guy Kemshal-Bell (April, 2001)

  • From oracle to guide and resource provider

  • From providers of answers to expert questioners

  • From solitary teacher to member of team

  • From total control of teaching environment to sharing as a fellow student

  • From provider of content to designer of learning experiences.

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Knowledge Sharing & Construction Support!!!E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, (Gilly Salmon, (1999) Kogan Page)

  • Be an equal participant in the conference.

  • Provide sparks or interesting comments.

  • Avoid directives and right answers.

  • Acknowledge all contributions.

  • Weave, summarize, and model discussion, but be tolerant of new twists in it.

  • Reward knowledge construction & accomplishments.

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Pedagogical Tips Support!!!(Bonk 1998)

  • Test system with immediate task

  • Build peer interactivity

  • Embed choices (avatars, tasks, etc.)

  • Simplify (everything!!!)

  • Embed peer and portfolio fdbk tools

  • Offer early feedback

  • Link to prior work (legacies)

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Little or no feedback given Support!!!

Always authoritative

Used factual Q’s.

Created tangential discussions

Only used “ultimate” deadlines

Provided regular qual/quant feedback

Participated as peer

Allowed perspective sharing; relevant tasks

Tied discussion to grades, other assessments.

Clear goals

Dennen’s Research on Nine Online Courses (sociology, history, communications, writing, library science, technology, counseling)

Poor Instructors Good Instructors

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Facilitating Electronic Discussion Support!!!

  • Provide Guidelines and Structure

  • Weave and Summarize Weekly

  • Be patient, prompt, and clear

  • Foster Role Play, Debate, and Interaction

  • Assign Due Dates, Times, and Points

  • Constantly Monitor, Converse not Dictate

  • Assign Buddies/Pals or Include Mentoring

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Is Support!!! it that simple?


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But How Avoid Shovelware??? Support!!!“This form of structure… encourages teachers designing new products to simply “shovel” existing resources into on-line Web pages and discourages any deliberate or intentional design of learning strategy.” (Oliver & McLoughlin, 1999)

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Motivational Terms? Support!!!See Johnmarshall Reeve (1996). Motivating Others: Nurturing inner motivational resources. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. (UW-Milwaukee)

  • Tone/Climate: Psych Safety, Comfort, Belonging

  • Feedback: Responsive, Supports, Encouragement

  • Engagement: Effort, Involvement, Excitement

  • Meaningfulness: Interesting, Relevant, Authentic

  • Choice: Flexibility, Opportunities, Autonomy

  • Variety: Novelty, Intrigue, Unknowns

  • Curiosity: Fun, Fantasy, Control

  • Tension: Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy

  • Interactive: Collaborative, Team-Based, Community

  • Goal Driven: Product-Based, Success, Ownership

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Intrinsic Motivation Support!!!

“…innate propensity to engage one’s interests and exercise one’s capabilities, and, in doing so, to seek out and master optimal challenges

(i.e., it emerges from needs, inner strivings, and personal curiosity for growth)

See: Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. NY: Plenum Press.

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1. Tone/Climate: Support!!!Ice Breakers

1. Eight Nouns Activity:

1. Introduce self using 8 nouns

2. Explain why choose each noun

3. Comment on 1-2 peer postings

2. Coffee House Expectations

1. Have everyone post 2-3 course expectations

2. Instructor summarizes and comments on how they might be met

(or make public commitments of how they will fit into busy schedules!)

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2. Feedback Support!!!Requiring Peer Feedback


1. Require minimum # of peer comments and give guidance (e.g., they should do…)

2. Peer Feedback Through Templates—give templates to complete peer evaluations.

3. Have e-papers contest(s)

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3. Engagement: Support!!!Electronic Voting and Polling

1. Ask students to vote on issue before class (anonymously or send directly to the instructor)

2. Instructor pulls out minority pt of view

3. Discuss with majority pt of view

4. Repoll students after class

(Note: Delphi or Timed Disclosure Technique: anomymous input till a due date

and then post results and

reconsider until consensus

Rick Kulp, IBM, 1999)

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3. Engagement Support!!!Survey Student Opinions(e.g., InfoPoll, SurveySolutions, Zoomerang,

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4. Meaningfulness: Support!!!Job or Field Reflections

  • Instructor provides reflection or prompt for job related or field observations

  • Reflect on job setting or observe in field

  • Record notes on Web and reflect on concepts from chapter

  • Respond to peers

  • Instructor summarizes posts

    Alternative: Pool field interviews

    of practitioners

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5. Choice: Support!!!Multiple Topics

  • Generate multiple discussion prompts and ask students to participate in 2 out of 3

  • Provide different discussion “tracks” (much like conference tracks) for students with different interests to choose among

  • List possible topics and have students vote (students sign up for lead diff weeks)

  • Have students list and vote.

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6. Variety Support!!!

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7. Curiosity: Support!!!Electronic Guests & Mentoring

  • Find article or topic that is controversial

  • Invite person associated with that article (perhaps based on student suggestions)

  • Hold real time chat

  • Pose questions

  • Discuss and debrief (i.e., did anyone change their minds?)

    (Alternatives: Email Interviews with experts

    Assignments with expert reviews)

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8. Tension: Role Play Support!!!

A. Role Play Personalities

  • List possible roles or personalities (e.g., coach, optimist, devil’s advocate, etc.)

  • Sign up for different role every week (or 5-6 key roles)

  • Reassign roles if someone drops class

  • Perform within roles—refer to different personalities

    B. Assume Persona of Scholar

    • Enroll famous people in your course

    • Students assume voice of that person for one or more sessions

    • Enter debate topic or Respond to debate topic

    • Respond to rdg reflections of others or react to own

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9. Interactive: Support!!!Critical/Constructive Friends, Email Pals, Web Buddies

  • Assign a critical friend (perhaps based on commonalities).

  • Post weekly updates of projects, send reminders of due dates, help where needed.

  • Provide criticism to peer (I.e., what is strong and weak, what’s missing, what hits the mark) as well as suggestions for strengthening.

    In effect, critical friends do not slide over weaknesses, but confront them kindly and directly.

  • Reflect on experience.

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10. Goal Driven: Support!!!Gallery Tours

  • Assign Topic or Project

    (e.g., Team or Class White Paper, Bus Plan, Study Guide, Glossary, Journal, Model Exam Answers)

  • Students Post to Web

  • Experts Review and Rate

  • Try to Combine Projects

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Motivational Top Ten Support!!!

1. Tone/Climate: Ice Breakers, Peer Sharing

2. Feedback: Self-Tests, Reading Reactions

3. Engagement: Q’ing, Polling, Voting

4. Meaningfulness: Job/Field Reflections, Cases

5. Choice: Topical Discussions, Starter-Wrapper

6. Variety: Brainstorming, Roundrobins

7. Curiosity: Seances, Electronic Guests/Mentors

8. Tension: Role Play, Debates, Controversy

9. Interactive: E-Pals, Symposia, Expert Panels

10. Goal Driven: Group PS, Jigsaw, Gallery Tours

Pick One…??? (circle one)

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“We are evolving out of the era of the Lone Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

Sarah Carr, (Dec 15, 2000, A47), A Day in the Life of a New Type of Professor, The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Faculty Member in 2020 Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Track 1: Technical Specialist

  • Track 2: Personal Guide

  • Track 3: Online Facilitator

  • Track 4: Course Developer

  • Track 5: Course or Program Manager

  • Track 6: Work for Hire Online Lecturer

  • Track 7: High School Teacher

  • Track 8: Unemployed

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Track 1: Technical Specialist Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Help critique technical aspects of media and materials built into online courses. Here one would be part of a course development team or instructional design unit. Freelance learning object evaluator. Here one would likely operate alone or as part of a consulting company.

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Track 2: Personal Guide Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Provide program or course guidance to students on demand or preplanned. Becomes more of a generalist across university offerings. For example, one might help students see how different learning objects or modules fit together into a degree.

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Track 3: Online Facilitator Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Offers timely and informed support to students struggling to complete an online course or inserting questions and nudging development of students who are successfully completing different modules. This is the most similar to college teaching positions today.

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Track 4: Course Developer Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Help develop specific courses or topic areas for one or more universities. In many institutions, this will move beyond a course royalty system to a paid position.

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Track 5: Course or Program Manager Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Supervisor or manager of an entire new program or courses, most often leading to certificates or master’s degrees. Similar in stature to a development head or chairperson.

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Track 6: Work for Hire Online Lecturer Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Is a freelance instructor for one course or a range of course. May work on just one campus or on a range of campuses around the world. While this will be highly popular and rejuvenate careers, institutional policies are yet to be sorted out.

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Track 7: High School Teacher Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • As universities begin to offer secondary degrees, some college faculty with online teaching experience and teaching degrees will find positions in those classes. Some may view such positions as being demoted to the minor leagues.

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Track 8: Unemployed Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • If one does not find a niche in one or more of the above tracks or roles, he or she will likely be unemployed or highly unsuccessful.

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Student Differences in 2020 Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)

  • Live Longer

  • More Educated

    • Multiple Degrees

    • Accustomed to Multiple Learning Formats

    • Design own programs and courses

  • Specialists AND Generalists

  • Courses/Degrees for unknown occupations

  • Expect to Take Courses Where Live

  • Cyber-students (various digital aids attached to appendages)

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So Where is Nebraska Headed? Rangers…faculty members can choose to be involved in the design, development, content expertise, delivery, or distribution of course…” (Richard T. Hezel)