Training for faculty who teach online

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1 Training for faculty who teach online David Batts Leslie Pagliari William Mallett Cheryl McFadden Dr. Batts is an Assistant Professor in the College of Technology and Computer Science at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. Pagliari is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the College of Technology and Computer Science at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. Mallett is an Assistant Director in the Office of International Affairs at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. McFadden is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. The development and progress of distance education through online technologies has grown over the past ten years. Though community colleges across the United States have seen the largest increase, are its faculty members prepared to teach online? The following study examines strategies administrators may use to train faculty who teach online courses at the community college level. Introduction Degree programs through distance education offer a variety of benefits to faculty, students, and institutional administrators. In an online environment, interaction between faculty and students increase as does the ability to reach a greater number of learners (NEA, 2000). Other benefits include meeting the needs of non-traditional students, who typically have responsibilities regarding career and family which keep them from enrolling in conventional face-to-face courses, and the needs of traditional students who may have a preference for learning in an online environment (Maguire, 2005). Distance education using online technologies has been growing at an astonishing rate since the late 1990s. According to Allen and Seaman (2008), over four million college students are enrolled in at least one online class. In addition, over 20% of all post-secondary students take at least one online class during the academic year. The percentage is much greater at the community college level where over 50% of students take online courses. While all institutional types within higher education have Training for faculty who teach online 21

2 seen expansion in online learning, community colleges have demonstrated record growth (Allen & Seaman, 2008). According to Frey and Donehue (2002), technology is rapidly changing the dynamics of the community college learning environment, presenting both opportunities and challenges to faculty and administrators (p. 3). Moon, Michelich, and McKinnon (2005) state that faculty members need new skills in online instruction. Bathe (2001) indicated that appropriate training for faculty and instructors was not being addressed at many institutions and suggested that proper training could overcome the barriers regarding online course functionality. In some cases, the basics of the online course technology are covered in structured training programs but often faculty are left to learn on their own (Shelton & Saltsman, 2005). Sammons and Ruth (2007) found evidence that many administrators in higher education are unaware of the specific needs concerning online instruction for faculty members. Haber and Mills (2008) argue community colleges understand faculty members perceptions of barriers for distance education practices and policies (p. 268). Consequently, the gap between the simple desire for online training and actual training taking place needs to be narrowed. Wolf (2006) found that faculty who have formal, structured training sessions are successful in online instruction and achieve positive student outcomes. Wolf also revealed that a sound online training program should include suitable course delivery systems and appropriate pedagogy. Schoenfield-Tacher and Persichitte (2000) suggested that faculty members who teach online need to be skilled in the delivery technology chosen and be able to design student-centered lessons as well. It is essential for administrators addressing online learning to understand that the online delivery system and chosen technology are common threads. The delivery technology requires fundamental skills and is the main focus of much available training. Administrators direct institutional support as well as studentcentered lesson designs for online education. The training and preparation not only need to cover the basic information on course delivery platforms and technical areas, but also to include best teaching practices. The training should offer the latest developments for distance education instruction (Pagliari, Batts & McFadden, 2009). Sound online technology training that also involves pedagogy is 22 The Community College Enterprise Fall 2010

3 needed by faculty who teach online. A study by Perreault, Waldman, Alexander, and Zhao (2002) determined that over 63% of faculty taught themselves how to create and deliver distance education courses. They go on to assert that faculty members need training and that training is the most obvious solution to the problems noted by educators (p. 317). Quick and Davies (1999) reported Several study participants considered training on using technology as one of their greatest needs (p. 651). Instructional best practices reviewed Chickering and Gamson s (1987) Seven Principles assert that best practice in undergraduate education does the following: 1. encourages student-faculty contact 2. encourages cooperation among students 3. encourages active learning 4. gives prompt feedback 5. emphasizes time on task 6. communicates high expectations 7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning. These seven principles are also encompassed in the 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices for Distance Education developed at Penn State s World Campus (Ragan, 2007). These enhanced principles help establish best online practices and include: 1. show up and teach 2. practice proactive course management strategies 3. establish patterns of course activities 4. plan for the unplanned 5. request and expect responses 6. think before writing 7. help maintain forward progress 8. stay safe and secure 9. remember quality counts 10. double click a mile on my connection The Seven Principles coupled with the 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching provide a framework for instructors to implement best practices that help ensure both faculty and student success. Bower and Hardy (2004) emphasize, faculty support and training are necessary if distance education is to be successful in community colleges (p. 11). Purpose of the study The purpose of the study was to determine if community college faculty members who teach online courses participate in online training opportunities either on- or off- Training for faculty who teach online 23

4 campus. The researchers were also interested in determining what specific training the faculty received and what particular online practices were incorporated into their course. Methodology For the present study a survey was used to obtain the perceptions of community college faculty with training and actual practices in online courses. The survey was adapted from an instrument developed by Kosak et al. (2004). Since the survey was originally geared toward a large statewide, four-year university system, modifications were necessary. The adjustments addressed specific community college practices for online training as well as various differences in instructors needs for preparation and training in the online environment. The survey was administered via and faculty were given instructions regarding survey website access. Findings Surveys were sent to 404 instructors who taught online courses at eight community colleges in North Carolina. Out of the 404, 108 replied, giving a 28% response rate. The research examined the perceptions of faculty training, preparation, and actual online teaching practices. The quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistic measures. A majority of the survey respondents (68%) were classified as instructional faculty and almost 60% had four-to-fifteen years of teaching experience. Additionally, 69% of respondents reported they were full-time employees and 28% were part-time. Fifty-two percent taught only online and hybrid (face-to-face and online) courses, 26% exclusively online, and 15% Table 1. On-campus training Response % Group sessions 59% Web-based tutorials 30% One-on-one training 27% Printed materials 21% Regular discussion sessions among peers 19% Observations of other distance courses 17% Mentorship 10% Conferences 5% Listservs 0% N= The Community College Enterprise Fall 2010

5 hybrid (part traditional and part online). As Table 1 shows, 59% had attended group sessions on campus training within the past year, and 48% stated they attended training at some point during their term of employment. Thirty percent had attended webbased tutorial training, and 27% had received one-on-one training. Other responses about training included printed materials (21%), regular discussion sessions among peers (19%), observation of other distance courses (17%), mentorship (10%), conferences (5%), and listservs (0%). Respondents could choose all that applied. Respondents were also asked what workshops or staff development programs were required by their institution prior to teaching online. A majority reported training in the course delivery system (Blackboard, 38%; WebCT, 20%; and Moodle 13%). Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents had not attended any off-campus training within the past year. As Table 2 shows, 20% had received web-based tutorial training, and 19% had attended a conference. Other off-campus training included group sessions (9%), printed materials (9%), training (6%), regular discussion sessions among peers (6%), observation of other distance courses (6%), one-on-one training (5%), listservs (4%), and mentorship (2%). Respondents were asked if they were provided information regarding best practices for student learning in an online environment (see Table 3). Ninety-three percent of those respondents believed that using best practices improved student learning. Notable best practices covered through training included timely feedback (68%), using discussion boards to Table 2. Off-campus training Response % Web-based tutorials 20% Conferences 19% Group Sessions 9% Printed materials 9% Observations of other distance courses 6% Regular discussion sessions among peers 6% One-on-One Training 5% Listservs 4% Mentorship 2% N=108 Training for faculty who teach online 25

6 facilitate interaction (67%), providing detailed syllabus information (55%), using online assessment tools (47%), setting rules for a friendly online environment (41%), providing introduction activities (39%), and including graphics, sound, and video to create a sense of place (38%). As shown in Table 4, actual best practices personally used in online classes were timely feedback (86%), providing a detailed syllabus (75%), using online assessment tools (74%), using discussion boards to facilitate interaction (71%), providing introduction activities (68%), guiding students to external online resources (60%), and setting rules for a friendly online environment (54%). The best practices of including graphics, sound, and video to create a sense of place was reported to be used by 37% of the respondents. While distance education continues to develop, educational administrators need to address how to manage online training programs and find appropriate ways to support faculty in their use of best practices. A variety of community col- Table 3. Best practices covered in online training Response % Timely feedback 68% Using discussion boards to facilitate interaction 67% Providing detailed Syllabus Information (e.g. Learning modules) 55% Using online assessment tools (e.g. quizzes) 47% Setting rules for a friendly online environment 41% Providing Introduction activities 39% Including graphics, sound and video to create a sense of place 38% Guiding students to external online resources 35% Supporting students through online communications 29% Guiding students to online library resources 26% Setting up group activities and group pages 25% Using Camtasia for instruction 24% Redesigning (chunking) learning resources 21% Using voiceover with PowerPoint (PPT) or PPT Producer for instruction 16% Using chatrooms to facilitate interaction 13% Using chat or instant messaging for online office hours 11% Using proctored assessment avenues 11% Using Centra for live voice chat 0% N= The Community College Enterprise Fall 2010

7 leges provide some type of online instruction for faculty, depending on the size of the institution and academic programs offered, but many still need to dedicate additional time to highlight best practices in the training of faculty who teach online. Respondents were asked what online instruction workshops or online staff development sessions were preferred. The results when classified into groups related to one of the following areas: platform, technology, and policy. Thirty-three percent reported platform related development, 14% technology related, and 36% policy related. The responses about platform training dealt with integration with other technologies, staying current with changes and educational trends. Responses concerning technology training were similar. Most stated that technology training was available, but it is either not required or had low participation rates. Policy related responses dealt with administrative policies about mandatory training, mentorship, and structure for reward and discipline. Table 4. Best practices personally used in online courses Response % Timely feedback 86% Providing detailed syllabus Information (e.g. learning modules) 75% Using online assessment tools (e.g. quizzes) 74% Using discussion boards to facilitate interaction 71% Providing Introduction activities 68% Guiding students to external online resources 60% Setting rules for a friendly online environment 54% Guiding students to online library resources 41% Including graphics, sound and video to create a sense of place 37% Redesigning (chunking) learning resources 30% Setting up group activities and group pages 25% Supporting students through online communications 20% Using proctored assessment avenues 17% Using chat or instant messaging for online office hours 11% Using Camtasia for instruction 10% Using voiceover with PowerPoint (PPT) or PPT Producer for instruction Using chatrooms to facilitate interaction 7% Using Centra for live voice chat 0% N=108 10% Training for faculty who teach online 27

8 Recommendations The results of the study suggest a need for further development of training for faculty who teach online courses. A large portion of the respondents (58%) noted that they did not receive off-campus training for online teaching during the past year. One respondent stated the funding for off-campus training had been decreased due to budgetary constraints. Thus, it may be necessary for institutions to deliver their own training. Among the respondents who received on-campus training, 59% reported they had attended group sessions, and 48% stated they had attended some type of training. Web-based tutorials were reported at 30%. Online programs and courses thrive when an institution makes available the necessary financial, human, and infrastructure resources required to design, maintain, and support online training programs (Wolf, 1999, p. 60). Community colleges need to review training offered for online instruction its appropriateness, the delivery of course content, and faculty attendance. The teaching abilities of online faculty and the preparation they receive are key to the success of their academic program and, ultimately, their institution. Only 20% of the respondents had attended web-based tutorial sessions and 19% participated in conference sessions. From the data, administrative leaders might conclude that there are a variety of methods to provide online instruction, and faculty may prefer training that is initiated by their institution. It is vital that administrators develop an infrastructure which assures faculty receives the resources and support necessary to deliver high quality online instruction. The respondents indicated a significant need for training either to be implemented or be enhanced within the community college system. Perreault, Waldman, Alexander, and Zhao (2002) found that nearly two-thirds of the faculty taught themselves how to create and deliver online courses. They did so without any formal online training sessions at their institution. Perreault et al. assert that faculty members may need training and that training is the most obvious solution to the problems noted by educators (p. 317). That said, quality web-based instruction can provide efficient and effective means of training faculty members who teach online. Administrators need to assess the latest technologies and develop web-based training modules which train faculty in brief, informative formats in small and manageable modules to address criti- 28 The Community College Enterprise Fall 2010

9 cal areas. The web-based training modules can cover not only key aspects of teaching online but also best practices that will assist professors in ensuring quality instruction (Pagliari, Batts & McFadden, 2009). Areas of training that need to be addressed follow many of the best practices outlined by Ragan (2007). They include: (a) ensure the technical infrastructure is in place and assessed prior to the semester, (b) establish online procedures that monitor assignments and discussion forums, (c) create a set pattern for online course activities, and (d) provide prompt feedback to students. Peer interaction, through a structured mentorship program, could send faculty members on the path to learning strategies that promote student success. While mentoring could serve the population well in training and supporting faculty members who teach online (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), it is being underused or not used at all, possibly because the necessary structure within institutions to support a quality program does not exist. The survey indicated that only 10% of the participants were involved in some type of mentorship program on campus, while only 2% were involved in a mentorship program off campus. A successful mentorship program, developed by community college administrators, could provide critical support and the valuable sharing of knowledge among faculty who teach online. Training for faculty who teach online 29

10 References Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course: Online education in the United States, The Sloan Consortium. Almala, A. (2006). The community college leadership perspectives of quality e-learning. Distance Learning, 3, Bathe, J. (2001). Love it, hate it, or don t care: Views on online learning. Bower, B., & Hardy, K. P. (2004). From correspondence to cyberspace: Changes and challenges in distance education. New Directions for Community Colleges, Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (Eds.). (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 38(7) 3-7. Frey, B. A., & Donehue, R. (2002). Making the transition from traditional to cyberspace classrooms. Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference. Haber, J., & Mills, M. (2008). Perceptions of barriers concerning effective online teaching and policies: Florida community college faculty. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 32, Kosak, L., Manning, D., Dobson, E., Rogers, L., Cotnam, S., Colaric, S., & McFadden, C. (Fall 2004). Prepared to teach online? Perspectives of faculty in the university of North Carolina system. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 7(3). Maguire, L. (2005). Literature review faculty participation in online distance education: barriers and motivators. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13, Spring. Moon, D., Michelich, V., & McKinnon, S. (2005). Blow away the competition: Explosive best practices for cost effective excellence in distance learning. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 29, National Educational Association. (2000). A survey of traditional and distance learning higher education members. Washington, D.C.: The National Educational Association. Pagliari, L., Batts, D., & McFadden, C. (2009). Desired versus actual training for online instructors in community colleges. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3). Perreault, H., Waldman, L., Alexander, M., & Zhao, J. (2002). The name assigned to the document by the author. This field may also contain sub-titles, series names, and report numbers. Overcoming Barriers to Successful Delivery of Distance- Learning Courses. Journal of Education for Business, 77(6), Quick, D., & Davies, T. (1999). Community college faculty development: bringing technology into instruction. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 23(7), Ragan, L. (2007). Establishing Online Instructor Performance Best Practices and Ex- 30 The Community College Enterprise Fall 2010

11 pectations. Online: March 29, Excerpted from 10 Commandments of Effective Online Teaching, Distance Education Report. Sammons, M., & Ruth, S. (2007). The invisible professor and the future of virtual faculty. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 4(1), Retrieved from Schoenfield-Tacher, R., & Persichitte, K. A. (2000). Differential skills and competencies required of faculty teaching distance education courses. International Journal of Educational Technology, 2(1), 22 pages. Retrieved October 20, 2006, from Shelton, K., & Saltsman, G. (2005). An administrator s guide to online education. USDLA Book Series on Distance Learning. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. Wolf, P. D. (2006). Best practices in the training of faculty to teach online. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 17(2), Training for faculty who teach online 31

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