Using threshold concepts about online teaching to support novice online teachers

Designing professional development guidelines to individually assist academic staff (“me”) and collectively guide the institution (“us”)


  • Maria Northcote
  • Kevin Gosselin
  • Peter Kilgour
  • Catherine McLoughlin
  • Chris Boddey



professional development guidelines, novice online teachers, threshold concepts


As online learning expands across the higher education sector, individual university lecturers are required to take on roles that incorporate responsibilities for designing and teaching online courses. Their growing capacities to fulfil these roles are sometimes supported by professional development (PD) programs within their institutions while some staff engage in staff development activities outside their home institutions. These programs and activities may take place within Communities of Practice (CoPs) while others are conducted on an individual basis. While much research has been undertaken into the field of online teaching and learning, including investigations into the most useful technological tools to incorporate into the design of online courses, the design of PD curricula to support the needs of novice teachers of online courses has not been as extensively explored. This paper reports on the outcomes of an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded project which purposely set out to identify the threshold concepts about online teaching that university lecturers develop as they engage in both the individual and communal aspects of designing and teaching online courses. The paper explains how the identification of threshold concepts about online teaching informed the development of a set of curriculum guidelines for the PD of novice online teachers. Recommendations for the design of PD for individual teachers (at the “me” level) are provided along with recommendations for the institution (at the “us” level).






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