How to be an Effective Online Instructor of Solar Content? Experience it; Don’t Just Read About It

By Barbara Martin

What’s the best way to teach someone how to be an effective online instructor of solar content?  The Task 6.5 working group believes that solar instructors who experience effective online modules and courses will learn more, and learn it more efficiently, than those who just read about what makes a good online course.

“We’re developing an online class to teach about good online solar training,” says Matt Fedoroko, Northern Mid-Atlantic RTP and committee member for this working group for solar online teaching. Chaired by Barbara Martin, this experience of being in online class that uses examples of effective online solar modules and lessons is good way to learn how to teach in an online environment.  It has the added benefit of giving the online “instructor-students” many examples of successful online solar content that they may be able to use or adapt for their own classes.

To be hosted on the IREC website, the solar online training will consist of three modules:

  1. What is effective online instruction;
  2. What content lends itself to online instruction; and
  3. What are the key skills for effective online teaching?

The online training will be developed using Moodle, an open source learning management system (LMS) popular with educators as a tool for creating web sites for their students.

“It’s a basic pedagogy course, but the course will focus on how to do effective online teaching with examples of solar technologies, from entry level installer to complex design engineering,” said Martin.  As a firm believer that examples teach better than explanations, the working group will try to incorporate multiple examples from as many varied solar online courses and modules as possible representing as many different aspects of the field as they can. The working group will be soliciting examples from RTPs and their partnering institutions.

The nine member committee and the chair have formed subcommittees of three or four to work on the three modules simultaneously.  They hope to have a draft of Module 1 ready for pilot testing by mid-October.  Results of the Module 1 pilot test will be “fed-forward” to the other two module development groups prior to field testing each of them.  All three modules should be ready for prime time by the first of 2014.



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