Leveraging Online Collaboration to Optimize Faculty Efficiency, Student Engagement, and Self-Efficacy: Self-Directed Learning at Scale

Leveraging Online Collaboration to Optimize Faculty Efficiency, Student Engagement, and Self-Efficacy: Self-Directed Learning at Scale

Sidneyeve Matrix (Queen's University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0347-7.ch006
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Using two large, blended communications courses as case studies, this chapter suggests that designing online courses that prioritize asynchronous collaboration and self-directed learning is key to increasing the productivity, efficiency, and wellness of students and faculty alike. Informed by insights from student feedback and research on social teaching strategies, the chapter discusses how to use technology to implement active learning opportunities that encourage and engage students. The chapter includes actionable ideas for leveraging the campus learning management system as a collaborative learning platform, to help online faculty manage the many demands on their time.
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It is not an easy process to develop effective learning communities that will facilitate meaningful interactions particularly in online and blended settings — J.W. Gikandi (2011: 2334)

Professor Gikandi is absolutely correct. Designing and delivering courses that provide students with active learning opportunities to engage with their peers and professor is not easy. When we add the additional hurdles of teaching online and facilitating large-enrolment classes, the challenges multiply (Orellana 2006; Raffo 2015; Roby 2013; Bettinger 2014). “The more technology you have in your class,” John D. Moore writes, “the more you will have to manage” (2014: np). As a result, many faculty opt-out of teaching online altogether, due to legitimate concerns about balancing multiple roles, managing increased workloads, and bridging steep technical learning curves (Betts & Heaston 2014; Windes & Lesht 2014). “Using a new technology is challenging,” one faculty member told researchers, “You need time, commitment and, more importantly, confidence to implement it” (Ocak 2011: 697). Certainly, there is a wealth of research indicating that that certain aspects of teaching online require significantly more time per student than teaching face-to-face in the traditional classroom environment (Tomei 2006; Voytecki & Engleman 2010; Van de Vord & Pogue 2012; Mandernach 2013). This is the case regardless of the instructors’ level of experience and technological skill, since faculty members generally find interacting with students online to be more time consuming than connecting with them in brick and mortar classrooms and during office hours (Chabon, Cain, & Lee-Wilkerson 2001; Smith, Ferguson, & Caris 2002; Christianson 2002; Herrmann & Popyack 2003; Sheridan 2006; Van de Vord & Pogue 2012).

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