Wynants & Dennis

Professional Development in an Online Context: Opportunities and Challenges from the Voices of College Faculty

Shelli Wynants, California State University, Fullerton
Jessica Dennis, California State University, Los Angeles


Given the variety of learning and engagement needs of the increasingly diverse student population in higher education, flexible approaches to teaching are critical for improving student success. Professional development that provides faculty exposure to effective, evidence-based instructional strategies in an online context may enhance their teaching practices. This study explored the advantages and disadvantages of the online context from the perspectives of ten faculty who completed an online disability awareness program, designed using two promising models: Universal Design for Instruction and Community of Inquiry. Thematic analysis of the qualitative results indicated control of pace, flexibility, and continued access to resources were benefits of the online context, while lack of social interaction, intrinsic motivation, and accountability were challenges for faculty in completing professional development online. Implications for designing and promoting online faculty professional development are presented.


higher education; online faculty professional development; universal design for instruction

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