ISS CHALLENGES Winner Dan Love: Online New Faculty Orientation Course

“What new practices should schools keep or implement as a result of our experience with online learning?” We recently posed this question to educators around the world through our innovation platform ISS CHALLENGES. The response was tremendous, and we’re excited to share the winning ideas with you.

In this feature, Dan Love from the American International School of Chennai shares how to make new school team members feel welcome and informed, no matter what school looks like.

Online New Faculty Orientation Course


Developed to onboard new faculty post-hiring and pre-arrival to campus, AISC created an online course for orienting new faculty to India, Chennai, and our school. 

This is a four-week online course with three main goals:

  1. To connect new faculty to future colleagues.
  2. To guide new faculty through the tasks that will help a smooth transition to India and AISC. 
  3. To introduce you to AISC as a learning community. 

Online spaces are an ideal place to learn and connect while we are spread around the world. You’ll explore key resources, participate in discussions, and complete essential tasks. By the end of this course, we will know each other more deeply and you will be ready to join us in India.  This course is created in partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA).  By having new faculty participate in the online course, it allows AISC to demonstrate what we believe with virtual learning and show the hallmarks of GOA’s pedagogy: 

  • Maintaining strong online learning communities that foster connections and relationships.
  • Reimagining learning, rather than replicating what would have been offered in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Doing the latter has proven unsustainable to teachers and students alike.
  • Finding a balance between asynchronous learning (which allows students to self-pace their work) and synchronous learning (which fosters connection). 
  • Using assessments that allow students to demonstrate their learning through application of the content, rather than a regurgitation of facts.
Why is this idea important?

Transitions to a new country, culture, and school need all the support they can get. Why onboarding new faculty through a virtual, experiential platform? AISC tried this program this February to March, prior to our move to sustained virtual learning. We liked it so much we are continuing with Virtual Opening Meetings in 2020.

What key tasks would need to be completed to get a prototype up and running?

The key tasks are centered around creating a course outline. We determined a manageable course length to be completed by new faculty and the flexibility of the course to accommodate working educators. Ultimately we designed a four week course into four modules that would meeting these goals.

With the intent to teach new faculty about India, the culture, and our school, we determined themes for the modules. Once themes were chosen we decided on the content and the interactions to deliver the material to the new faculty. To replicate our own online teaching philosophies and practices, we designed the course to have synchronous and asynchronous elements.

A final survey was created for all participants, as well as a plan to debrief in person once the new faculty arrived on campus.

How easy would it be to grow this idea across multiple schools or contexts?

I believe this idea is highly replicable for schools. All schools have new faculty so there is a need. We used GOA as a thought partner and their Canvas course design so our faculty would be able to become familiar or continue to work with one of our educational partners and their course delivery platform. Ultimately we plan to reuse the course annually, modifying and adjusting as we go.

What might be the tangible outcome/s of your idea?

Specifically our overarching goal was to build community with our incoming class and to have those individuals begin to acculturate to our learning community.  

Some of the other outcomes included:

  • Through an authentic use of technology, new faculty build agency in an  online learning platform.
  • Experience online course design and have a working understanding of wayfinding as participant.
  • Begin and foster relationships in an online community.  A very useful skill to be able to create connections virtually.  
  • Centralize resources useful to all new faculty in one dynamic space.  

All of this done with in a virtual environment, so teachers understand and develop their perspective to online learning.  

Thank you to Dan for sharing this idea! Keep an eye out for other ISS Challenges winners, plus continue to share your own school initiatives and inspiration with #ISSedu.

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