Expectations, Challenges and Suggestions for Faculty Teaching Online Courses in Higher Education

Expectations, Challenges and Suggestions for Faculty Teaching Online Courses in Higher Education

Alec Sithole, Davison M. Mupinga, Joachim S. Kibirige, Fidelis Manyanga, Brian K. Bucklein
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.2019010105
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Research on online education has predominantly focused on issues related to student attraction, attrition, retention, and motivation, among others. Little attention has been paid to online instructors and yet, the quality of online education requires educators who understand the expectations of online instruction. Using an online survey, this study examined the expectations and challenges for online instructors and the suggestions for improving online instruction. Based on the data collected from seventeen faculty who teach online courses at four mid-western universities in the US, facilitation, instructor presence, and technical support stood out prominently among the expectations. The major challenges for online instructors were: large class sizes, academic dishonesty, lack of connection with students, too many emails, and lack of student self-discipline. The study recommends viable professional development for online instructors as a pre-requisite to teaching online courses.
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The demand for online classes is growing almost exponentially. However, this growth may be coming at the expense of quality, if suitable pedagogical practices are not adopted or adjusted. Teaching online courses brings both advantages as well as challenges that require careful and focused introspection. In this study we focus on the challenges facing online instructors and how to best address them. While we recognize the advantages of teaching, we also note that the migration from traditional, F2F courses, to the online format presents a plethora of challenges, many of which are not encountered in the F2F classroom setting. It is, therefore, imperative that we draw attention to these challenges in order to make online instruction more efficient and effective. These challenges include, for example, student academic readiness (or lack thereof); self-discipline; computer technology skills; time-zone differences. In addition, the switch to online instruction requires development of more inclusive pedagogical approaches that capture different learning styles. It is, therefore, crucial that instructors be fully equipped with the knowledge and ability either to pre-empt these challenges or to resolve them, should they arise. Presently, however, most instructors are not sufficiently equipped to effectively address the challenges with this knowledge. This study is, therefore, relevant not only to the less experienced online teachers but also to the more experienced and, even more so, to those who plan to move their courses from F2F to the online format. More specifically, this study seeks to: 1) examine the expectations of online teachers; 2) assess the challenges online teachers face, and 3) propose ways of addressing the challenges in order to best meet the expectations of online teaching.

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