Main Body

Competencies For Teaching With Rich Media


The richness of realtime face-to-face communication enables participants to cue each other when there is a gap or an agreement in understanding, certainty, or coherence when a message is conveyed.

In contrast, asynchronous text-based or pre-recorded media is semantically poor because the points of engagement with the receiver are detached from the non-verbal cues of the sender. Mediated messages operate “cuelessly”.

While asynchronous online communication is strong in its ability to extend a message to reach more people, its advantages are offset by learners’ struggle to make sense of information in the absence of an in-person communicator.

Online instructors should be knowledgeable of the various ways information can be communicated and how it can be presented in an online course in a way that supports learners’ need for certainty, clarity, relevance, and meaning as learners form mental models.

And since online instructional material is, by nature, delivered electronically through the Internet, it is incumbent on online instructors to know how to use common Web tools and use the proper vernacular to describe online tasks and processes.

Why create a set of competencies for teaching with rich media?

We assume in this chapter that online instructors who participate in professional development for teaching with rich media are already initiated into teaching online in general. This is to say that there are critical skills and knowledge that are prerequisite to one’s readiness to teach online using rich media. These include:

  • Acculturation to being present online as an asynchronous facilitator of learning rather than the live physical center of attention in a classroom.
  • Acclimation to using a computing device and an LMS as the primary access points for course content, student communication, and content authoring.
  • Reconciliation with the distinct differences, assumptions, and needs of students who choose to take online courses compared to those who take F2F courses.

We grant that it is reasonable that an instructor can complete training to teach an online course and then teach effectively without using rich media.

However, given the unique affordances of rich media and the potential advantages they hold for learners, we make the case that proficiency in using rich media should be a required component of online instructor training at some point in an instructor’s longterm professional development plans.

The TPACK framework: A motive for designing a set of competencies

A discussion about teaching with rich media should include acknowledging the foundation principles of the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework (TPACK) framework as a motive for constructing a set of competencies related specifically to teaching with rich media.

TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones (Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P., 2009, p. 66).

We take this as a call for online instructors, in the most general sense, to collaborate with instructional designers, learning designers, instructional technologists, media specialists, and librarians to conceptualize the use of rich media in ways that are appropriate to the unique needs of a given instructional challenge.

Therefore, a set of competencies ought to inform the structure of a systematic program of professional development to support this effort. The section below describes the skills, knowledge, and attitudes online instructors should demonstrate in a professional development setting.

The IBSTPI Competency Model

A model for the design and structure of competencies is found in the Competencies and Performance Statements produced by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (IBSTPI).

IBSTPI defines competency as:

A knowledge, skill, or attitude that enables one to effectively perform the activities of a given occupation or function to the standards expected in employment. (Richey, Rita & C. Fields, Dennis & Foxon, Marguerite, 2001, p. 31).

The Generic IBSTPI Competency Development Model describes Competencies as general statements which are then elaborated upon in a set of Performance Statements to indicate exact behaviors.  Below is an excerpt from a set of IBSTPI Instructional Designer Competencies and Performance Statements (Richey et al, 2001):

Competency:  Communicate effectively in visual, oral, and written form.

Performance Statements (partial list):

  • Create messages that accommodate learner needs and characteristics, content, and objectives.
  • Write and edit text to produce messages that are clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
  • (etc…)

Excerpt taken from “Instructional Designer Competencies” © IBSTPI – used with permission.

Competency Sets for Teaching With Rich Media

Based upon the IBSTPI model, we present the following set of Competencies for Teaching with Rich Media. They are organized in the following hierarchy:

[ Category of Competency ]

      • [ Individual Competency ]
        • [ Performance Statements ]

Technical Competencies

Technical competencies refer to skills related to using a computing device to locate resources through network communication systems (Internet, social media, databases, etc.), using various methods to facilitate student access to resources, producing one’s own content, manipulating content produced by others, and employing the affordances of the Learning Management System (LMS) to post resources as needed.

  1. Competency: Locate rich media resources relevant to subject matter.
    1. Use Internet search skills to locate resource repositories, Open Educational Resources (OER), social media based communities, and Web tools.
    2. Use collaborative strategies, i.e. social media, internal institutional communication, professional organizations, etc., to locate and share resources within the community of practice.
  2. Competency: Curate existing rich media resources appropriate to the modes of instructional communication.
    1. Identify appropriate file formats used in publishing instructional media.
    2. Employ methods for downloading, converting, importing, and optimizing resources.
  3. Competency: Modify or create rich media resources that are compatible with the modes of instructional communication.
    1. Use computing and digital devices to edit or modify existing media.
    2. Write a narration script or outline to use as a basis of performing in an original media production related to instruction.
    3. Use computing and digital devices to record video and audio media.
    4. Use computing and digital devices to compose original image media.
    5. Use computing and digital devices to compose original interactive media.
    6. Create or modify an existing blog, social media account, Web tool, or widget.
    7. Compose or organize content in a social network or Web tool to use as the focus of instructional activity.
  4. Competency: Facilitate universal access to rich media.
    1. Generate embed codes and ADA compliant share links from resources and publish them according to the means of instructional communication.
    2. Use captioning utilities to support accessibility.
    3. Prepare multimedia with tab logic that supports accessibility.
    4. Compose technical instructions that explain how to access resources that are accessible only from the learners’ devices.

Pedagogical Competencies

Pedagogical competencies refer to the ability to identify, explain, and apply the theories that support the effective use of rich media in instructional contexts.

  1. Competency: Demonstrate knowledge of applicable theories and research that describe the advantages of rich media in online learning.
    1. Recognize opportunities for using rich media in online course design which offer an advantage for learners in comparison to other communication methods.
    2. Explain theories and research that connect the affordances of rich media to human sensory experience, cognitive processing, and social learning.
    3. Identify the connections between learners’ needs and the affordances of rich media resources to meet those needs.
  2. Competency: Select rich media resources with appropriate pedagogical value.
    1. Evaluate multimedia resources for their suitability to use in instruction.
    2. Evaluate the affordances of a social network for its suitability to connect learners to the knowledge or value in that network.
    3. Evaluate a Web-based tool for its suitability for use in instruction.
  3. Competency: Write assignment briefs and prompts that present rich media with coherence, relevance, and meaning to learners within a given instructional context.
    1. Introduce rich media resources that describe provenance, authorship, and context of publication.
    2. Write a preface that explains the relevance of the rich media resource to the instructional context.
    3. Write instructions for engagement with rich media so that learners are actively and purposefully engaged.
    4. Write assignment briefs or prompts that draw from learners’ rich media engagement experiences that are relevant to instructional objectives.
  4. Competency: Evaluate the effectiveness of a rich media-based resource or activity.
    1. Determine how a rich media-based resource or activity has contributed to the learning experience based on a review of student work; propose steps for improvement if needed.

Leadership Competencies

Leadership competencies refer to one’s identity as a professional online instructor within a community of practice. Professional qualities in this category are embodied in exemplary social participation in the overall improvement or advancement of online teaching and learning practice.

  1. Competency: Participate in the community of practice related to teaching with rich media in online instruction.
    1. Participate in periodic professional community-based gatherings for the purpose of professional growth.
    2. Offer presentations on the subject of using rich media in online instruction.
    3. Continually share information, experiences, and resources with colleagues through online professional social communities.
  2. Competency: Provide direct assistance to others in improving their skills in teaching with rich media.
    1. Participate in mentorship relationships with other instructors.
    2. Provide demonstrations to colleagues on using rich media in instruction.
    3. Serve as a peer reviewer for the work of others offering constructive feedback and support.
  3. Competency: Comply with and maintain ethical and legal standards in the use of rich media.
    1. Use rich media in compliance with the laws and regulations of copyright and fair use.
    2. Use rich media in accordance to appropriate standards for cultural and historical sensitivity.


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Teaching With Rich Media by Steve Covello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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