In the Spring of 2012, I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of English at Wichita State University. After giving my last final of the semester, I walked through the hallways of my department with a few leftover doughnuts my students hadn’t taken. I stopped in to the Composition Director’s office to offer him a Krispy Kreme. We started talking about my plans for the summer and my teaching assignments in the fall. He asked if I had any interest in teaching a course online. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. Teaching online meant a miniscule pay bump and an addition to my CV. There was no reason not to take advantage of that.
As it turns out, my experience teaching online was the sort of horror story that keeps those passionate about online learning up at night. While I had discussed teaching the courses with my Director in the spring, I wasn’t given my first online teaching assignment until five days before the course started. I received almost no materials and had received no formal training on how to be an effective online instructor. I hurriedly built a course to the best of my abilities, but my students and I suffered along together for about four months. I learned a lot in my first semester teaching online—but my number one takeaway was the lack of instructional support provided by my university for graduate teaching assignments and first-time online instructors.
This experience pushed me towards my current position as a Senior Instructional Designer at Wichita State. Each day in this position, I try to help other young instructors avoid the disaster that my student’s and I experienced.