Worldwide there is an increasing demand for educational institutions to offer part of their educations online and mixed mode. For institutions to comply with these demands, it is necessary to prepare teachers (and other members of the staff), to fulfil their responsibilities within the virtual environment. Teachers must be able to organize their courses pedagogically according to different conditions, i.e., subject domains, group sizes, variations within communication and interaction. Teachers must acquire knowledge and skills in handling Information and Communication Techniques (ICT) as well as pedagogical possibilities and constraints inherited in the software available. Several studies demonstrate that technical obstacles are easier to overcome than lack of communication skills. Also the consequenses of communication breakdowns tend to create serious problems that technology cannot solve. These problems concern how teachers function satisfactory as mediators and coaches in collaborative, knowledge sharing virtual environments. For example, how teachers support their students in becoming online-students and how they facilitate complex discussions on difficult topics. This is a big challenge for everybody involved in e-learning, and the challenge is not met by offering introductory courses for university teachers. Based on basis of a recent examination of concrete actions and strategies for the future within 11 Danish universities, the auther argues that there exists a severe mismatch between the organisational expectations and strategies and the competence-evolving activities that the same organisations offer to their staff. A recent case study of a university pedagogy course on e-learning for university teachers demonstrates and identifies some of the consequences of the mismatch. Finally the author suggests strategies to meet the demands of the future online university.
Education and Information Technologies, 2007, Vol 12, Issue 1, p. 41-51