Faculty Participation in Distance Education Programs

Faculty Participation in Distance Education Programs

Catherine C. Schifter (Temple University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch143
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Distance education is not new to higher education. Correspondence courses have served students since the 19th century. What is different today is the use of interactive computer-mediated communication systems for distance education (DE). Indeed, DE is present in all levels of higher education, and the decision to offer DE is often an administrative one without faculty consultation. A successful DE program needs faculty participation. To teach in a DE program, faculty need to reconsider the teaching and learning process, and to modify their teaching methods to adopt interactive computer-mediated communication and teaching strategies that take advantage of the resources afforded by technologymediated pedagogy, and to be more student centered (Beaudoin, 1998). This shift in roles means that successful teaching skills for DE are different from those required in face-to-face teaching (Hackman & Walker, 1990); however, faculty training programs tend to focus on to how to use the computers or software, not on how to teach in DE environments (Merkley, Bozik & Oakland, 1997). Given that DE is not a common concept for most faculty and they will need to learn how to teach in the DE environment, there are two questions for DE administrators to answer. First, what motivates faculty to embrace this new teaching environment and to change their teaching strategies? And second, what assistance, incentives and compensation policies support faculty in this educational transformation?
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Distance education is not new to higher education. Correspondence courses have served students since the 19th century. What is different today is the use of interactive computer-mediated communication systems for distance education (DE). Indeed, DE is present in all levels of higher education, and the decision to offer DE is often an administrative one without faculty consultation.

A successful DE program needs faculty participation. To teach in a DE program, faculty need to reconsider the teaching and learning process, and to modify their teaching methods to adopt interactive computer-mediated communication and teaching strategies that take advantage of the resources afforded by technology-mediated pedagogy, and to be more student centered (Beaudoin, 1998). This shift in roles means that successful teaching skills for DE are different from those required in face-to-face teaching (Hackman & Walker, 1990); however, faculty training programs tend to focus on to how to use the computers or software, not on how to teach in DE environments (Merkley, Bozik & Oakland, 1997). Given that DE is not a common concept for most faculty and they will need to learn how to teach in the DE environment, there are two questions for DE administrators to answer. First, what motivates faculty to embrace this new teaching environment and to change their teaching strategies? And second, what assistance, incentives and compensation policies support faculty in this educational transformation?

The literature on DE describes the students as older, mature, self-initiators interested in outcomes (Hiltz, 1994) who are taking time away from family and careers to go back to school (Keegan, 1986); less likely to be female (Blumenstyk, 1997); and less likely to be from a minority population (Gose, 1997; Sanchez & Gunawardena, 1998). There are “how-to-do” DE publications (Berge & Collins, 1995; Melton, 1997) addressing such issues as distance learning environments and course design, and case studies of successful DE courses (Monolescu, Schifter & Greenwood, 2003). What is missing is discussion of the faculty, full or part time, who teach the courses and why they participate while others do not. In addition, there is minimal discussion about what DE administrators do to encourage and/or support faculty participation in DE.

The literature portrays faculty as preferring traditional courses (i.e., face-to-face) over DE courses because there were fewer teacher-student interactions with DE (Taylor & White, 1991); as begin concerned about quality of interaction, administrative support and rewards (Clark, 1993); and as perceiving a lack of overall administrative support (Olcott & Wright, 1995). Perhaps the required change in teaching methods and the teaching environment also led to the reported lack of enthusiasm for participating in DE. One could argue also that many faculty are skeptical of DE because they could not “see” it and had certainly not experienced it firsthand.

Faculty participation in DE has been described as “for a variety of personal reasons, ranging from diversity of experience to altruism toward the non-traditional learner” (Dillon, 1989, p. 42). Dillon and Walsh (1992) reviewed 225 articles and concluded that “…faculty motivation to teach at a distance results from intrinsic [prestige, self esteem] rather than extrinsic incentives [monetary rewards]” (p. 16). This finding was further supported by Betts (1998) and Schifter (2000), who opposed the notion that financial incentives are the primary motivating factors for faculty to teach in DE programs.

Knowing what supports faculty participation will facilitate the implementation of new DE programs and expansion of current ones. Administrators need to understand their faculty population if they are to support faculty participation in DE.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Correspondence Courses: Education courses typically offered via postal service.

Higher Education: Education opportunities offered post K-12, public education.

Distance Education: Education opportunities where the instructor and students are not in the same location.

Computer Mediated Communication: Communication through computers (e.g., e-mail).

Institutional Policy: A plan or course of action developed by an institution to guide actions.

Case Study: Research conducted to assess a single instance of a phenomenon.

Distance Education Courses: The curriculum offered through distance education.

Pedagogy: The art of teaching.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset