Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Associate Professor Scott Nicholson was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article about Syracuse University’s initiative to better prepare faculty to teach online courses.

“In a face-to-face class I could come in with a handful of notes and lecture for an hour,” he was quoted as saying, but online “you can’t just go in and wing it.”

Nicholson and iSchool Director of Instructional Design Peggy Brown will co-teach the 10-week Tools and Techniques for Teaching Online course, a requirement this fall for some faculty at SU’s Whitman School of Management, though faculty at other colleges are encouraged to take it as well.

“Because the formal online learning space is relatively new, the students don’t have that shared set of expectations,” Nicholson said. Faculty members who teach online need to explain their expectations for the course and for online interactions and communications, Nicholson said. He added that most professors have not taken online classes themselves and therefore do not have the necessary experience to easily facilitate online learning.

Course participants will explore topics in online instruction, including course organization, online communication and discussion facilitation, synchronous and asynchronous learning environments, assessment, and Universal Design for Learning. These concepts will be complimented by overviews of course technology including the Blackboard learning management system and other supplemental technologies useful for teaching online. The primary project will be the development of an actual online course which will be ready to launch at the completion of the semester.

Nicholson combines his backgrounds as a librarian, computer programmer, a gamer and statistician both in the classroom and in his research role as a library scientist. One of his research areas is the intersection of gaming in libraries in which he studies the ways in which libraries use recreational gaming activities and explores what activities are most effective for different user groups and different goals. He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics with computer science and a master’s in library and information science at the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in Information Science in 2000 at the University of North Texas.