Faculty Satisfaction with Online Teaching

Are university faculty satisfied with teaching online?

Online teaching is time consuming and does not yield a high level of personal accomplishment (Bolliger & Wasilik, 2009). The role of the online instructor is made up of several roles that stretch the abilities of the faculty (Liu, Bonk, Lee, Su, & Magjuka, 2005). In order to improve these circumstances, proper support for online faculty is required. Developing mentoring programs, training, and communities of practice can improve overall experiences and satisfaction of faculty teaching online (Dittmar & McCracken, 2012) (Moore, 2011).

Bolliger & Wasilik developed the Online Faculty Satisfaction Survey (OFSS), which indicated that online teaching is both time consuming and demanding (Bolliger & Wasilik, 2009). The role of the instructor online includes: pedagogical, managerial, social, and technical. The identified issues with each role include the following:

Dimensions Roles Description of roles Issues
Pedagogical Course Designer Design interactive learning experience, structure course materials; refine and update learning materials; share teaching experiences with colleagues Lack of program wide interaction
Pedagogical Interaction Facilitator Facilitate peer interaction in online discussion through a wide range of facilitation strategies Lack of facilitation skills; concerns about time commitment
Managerial Conference Manager Ensure equity in online discussion; provide rules and guidelines to augment online discussion; promote knowledge construction Lack of skill in weaving discussion
Social Social rapport builder Build social rapport; establish online teams; build online learning community Lack of awareness of social role; lack of technology; concern about time commitment
Technical Media designer Develop multi-media tools; identify and co-design efficient learning tools Concern about time.

Excerpt from: Table 1. Summary of Pedagogical, Social, Managerial, and Technological Roles of the Online Instructors (Lin, Bonk, Lee, Su, & Magjjuka, 2005)

Our world is changing rapidly. Globalization of markets and products and the rapid evolution of information technology are key drivers in today’s knowledge-based economy. A majority of workers in developed economies are information workers and new media and the Internet has become a tremendous source of knowledge and therefore learning. In order for institutions of higher education to remain relevant in the world today they will have to adapt to the demands of today’s learner and deliver education online. This delivery method has been developing over the last couple of decades and the issue of quality and satisfaction is key to understanding the next steps in the development of support services for both faculty and students. Faculty satisfaction is one of the five pillars of quality related to online education (Sloan Consortium, 2002).

Faculty satisfaction as defined by the Sloan Consortium is comprised of the following characteristics:

  1. Faculty satisfaction metrics show improvement over time;
  2. Faculty contribute to, and benefit from online teaching;
  3. Faculty are rewarded for teaching online and for conducting research about improving teaching online;
  4. Faculty experiences, practices and knowledge about online learning is part of the institutional knowledge sharing structure;
  5. There is parity in workload between classroom and online teaching;
  6. Significant technical support and training are provided by the institution (Moore, 2011).

The demand for online education is not waning; therefore the support for online instructors is intensified. In tight economic times, budgets for training and technical support have been slashed and institutions of higher education have been asked to do more with less. However, now is not the time to reduce the support for faculty in online education. The META model for promoting quality improvement in online teaching is one method that, if adopted, could improve overall satisfaction for faculty. The META program develops high quality faculty, fosters excellence though mentoring, furthers engagement, uses emerging technologies, assesses performance, and evaluates outcomes. This multi-dimensional approach of ongoing professional engagement is a proven model that could be adapted for other institutions looking to improve support for online education and faculty satisfaction with online teaching (Dittmar & McCracken, 2012).

We live in a knowledge-based economy where knowledge is not a product (as in a knowledge economy) but is a tool. Learners must become informavores, an organism that consumes information, so that they can find the answers they need in order to solve tomorrow’s challenges. We can no longer prepare students with passing along the knowledge we already have, but must teach them to question everything and find new answers for themselves. Future studies in online teaching and learning satisfaction must include this aspect of preparing students for their future instead of our past in order to truly capture the value of online education as a tool for survival in the knowledge-based economy.

See results of this study here.

References:

Bolliger, D., Wasilik, O. (2009). Factors influencing faculty satisfaction with online teaching and learning in higher education. Distance Education, 30(1), 103-116. doi: 10.1080/01587910902845949

Dittmar, E., & McCracken, H. (2012). Promoting continuous quality improvement in online teaching: The meta model. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 163-175. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/jaln/v16n2/promoting-continuous-quality-improvement-online-education-meta-model

Liu, X., Bonk, C., Lee, S., & Su, B. (2005). Exploring four dimensions of online instructor roles: A program level case study. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 9(4), 29-48. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/sites/default/files/v9n4_liu_1.pdf

Moore, J. (2011). A synthesis of sloan-c effective practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(1), 91-115.

Swan, K. (2004). Relationships between Interactions and Learning in Online Environments. Sloan Consortium. http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/freedownloads#Publications

Originally published: October 15, 2012 – Blog rebuilt: April 20, 2014

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