Northwestern University Teacher Leader Program: Investigating the Possibility of an Online Model
The School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University chose to investigate the possibility of moving its Teacher Leader program online in the fall of 2019. This capstone project attempted to assess demand for a hybrid or fully online program and to study the programmatic elements that were important for both students and instructors in an online platform. A mixed method approach was utilized to gather data that consisted of an online quantitative survey and qualitative interviews conducted with Northwestern current Teacher Leader students, alumni, and faculty. The study results follow. First, there was a documented demand for an online Teacher Leader program. The preferred format of online programming differed between quantitative and qualitative respondents, but both groups expressed an interest in a flexible model with a mixed blend of synchronous and asynchronous coursework. Students reported the need for connection as one of the most important programmatic elements in the transition to online learning. Student advising, technology supports, and networking assistance were identified as essential for the online platform. The online model will change instructional delivery. Instructors should be proficient in online pedagogy, course facilitation and management, learning environment design, and the promotion of social relationships in the online classroom. Finally, instructors reported a variance of individual needs that the larger university network can help address.