Over the past year, instructors of the Fundamentals of Online Teaching Certificate noticed a trend: more and more health care professionals were taking the course to learn how to teach online. Training for nurses, radiologists, and others is increasingly occurring online, and that’s boosted the demand for developing skills to teach in this unique space.

Janet Staker Woerner: ‘Fundamentals of Online Teaching for Health Care Professionals will prepare instructors to excel in the online environment.’

As a result, University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies saw the need to create a customized version of Fundamentals of Online Teaching for a specialized audience. On Oct. 10, Continuing Studies will launch Fundamentals of Online Teaching Certificate for Health Care Professionals, a six-week course that is itself completely online. The program has been approved for 30 nursing contact hours of continuing education credits by the Wisconsin Nurses Association, meeting the group’s learning objectives and rigorous standards.

“Those in health care often work unconventional hours with little downtime, so flexible online training is easier to fit into their schedules than face-to-face classes,” says Janet Staker Woerner of Continuing Studies’ Distance Education Professional Development. “Fundamentals of Online Teaching for Health Care Professionals will prepare instructors to excel in the online environment, and a PhD-level subject-matter expert will help them customize their approach for health care professionals.”

Personalized feedback

Fundamentals of Online Teaching Certificate for Health Care Professionals provides weekly modules, covering “Online Course Models and Principles,” “Characteristics of Online Learners,” “The Role of the Online Instructor,” “Planning Course Content,” “Planning Learning Activities,” and “Course Management Strategies.” Students will complete a final project relevant to their jobs, developing skills they can take right back to the workplace.

Beth Fahlberg: ‘We’ll be present with learners every step of the way to support their skill-building.’

While Woerner facilitates the class, subject-matter expert Beth Fahlberg will lead discussions, review the final project, and provide guidance on health-care-specific teaching. Fahlberg has been a nurse educator for over 20 years. As a clinical professor in the School of Nursing, she taught undergraduate nursing students in classroom, lab, simulation, clinical, and online settings. With her help, learners will receive constant personalized feedback and ideas about how to approach their own teaching challenges.

“We’ll guide them through the hands-on activities, suggesting how they might approach their teaching project and where they can make adjustments,” says Fahlberg. “We’ll be present with them every step of the way to support their skill-building, and to help them customize what they learn in this course to the unique aspects of their teaching and their health care students’ needs.”

Learners typically bond with one another in a virtual classroom environment, and Woerner expects even closer connections in Fundamentals of Online Teaching for Health Care Professionals.

“It will build a community of learners who face similar challenges in their work,” she says. “The conversation that emerges will extend beyond the course.”

Jessica Wilson on the Fundamentals of Online Teaching certificate: ‘I learned a lot that moved my online teaching forward to the next level.’

More career options

On completing the course, learners will earn a certificate worth three continuing education units as well as a digital credential to place on their resumes. They will also have one foot firmly in the future.

“Education is changing rapidly, and the certificate they receive is a credential that can open up more career options,” says Woerner. “For those who are intimidated by the technology, we’re there to coach them through it. As we’ve seen in Fundamentals of Online Teaching, the course can change students’ entire approach to education.”

Jessica Wilson, a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky, is one of the students who had a revelatory experience in Fundamentals of Online Teaching.

“I really enjoyed the course and all of the helpful feedback,” Wilson says. “I learned a lot that moved my online teaching forward to the next level.”

To register or learn more about Fundamentals of Online Teaching Certificate for Healthcare Professionals, see here. For more information, contact Janet Staker Woerner at 608-890-3038, janet.stakerwoerner@wisc.edu.