More Teaching in Less Time: Leveraging Time to Maximize Teaching Presence

More Teaching in Less Time: Leveraging Time to Maximize Teaching Presence

B. Jean Mandernach (Grand Canyon University, USA), Rick Holbeck (Grand Canyon University, USA) and Ted Cross (Grand Canyon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9582-5.ch011


There are a plethora of best practices highlighting strategies to personalize the online learning experience, promote interaction and establish teaching presence. Despite this knowledge, a gap remains between online instructors' pedagogical knowledge and teaching behaviors. This discrepancy is largely a function of time. With a wide range of instructional tasks to complete, faculty struggle to balance all the demands of the online classroom. To maximize student success and satisfaction, it is essential that faculty effectively manage their time to engage in instructional behaviors with the greatest impact. This chapter overviews strategies to help online instructors: 1) create an efficient online classroom; 2) manage teaching time more effectively; and 3) prioritize their time investment to promote interaction, presence and participation.
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Recent studies show that despite a leveling of the number of students enrolled in online programs, institutions increasingly highlight the importance of online education as an essential component of their strategic vision (Allen & Seaman, 2013). From community colleges to prestigious universities (Bowen & Lack, 2013; T. Johnson, 2013), online learning has become a mainstay of higher education. Yet, despite growing research on individualized pedagogical approaches relevant to the online classroom, a holistic approach to online teaching has received limited attention (D. Johnson, 2013). Research supports the value and relevance of creating an engaging, personalized, interactive online learning experience, yet stops short of providing faculty with a comprehensive understanding of how to create this experience.

The value and importance of establishing a teaching presence, fostering a community of learners and promoting ongoing interaction in the online classroom is well established (Anderson, 2004; Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer, 2001; Aragon, 2003; Garrison & Archer, 2000; Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000; Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005; Gunawardena, 1995; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Lowenthal & Parscal, 2008; Palloff & Pratt, 1999; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, Archer, 1999; Salmon, 2000; So, 2005; Swan, 2001; Swan, 2003; Tu, 2000); despite this knowledge, there is a gap between what online instructors should do and what online instructors actually do. This discrepancy between pedagogical knowledge and instructional behavior is largely a function of time (Cavanaugh, 2005; Concieção, 2006; Easton, 2003; Graham, Cagiltay, Craner, Lim & Duffy, 2000; Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006; Mandernach, Hudson & Wise, 2013; Mandernach, 2013; Sheridan, 2006; Van De Vord, Pogue, 2012; Worley & Tesdell, 2009). Regardless of whether an online faculty member is fulltime or adjunct, each individual only has a limited amount of time available to devote to each class. This limited time must be divided between all associated tasks (including course development, technical challenges, interaction, course administration, grading and feedback, etc.); thus, more time spent in one area subtracts available time for other aspects of teaching.

In order to maximize student success and satisfaction in the online classroom, it is essential that online faculty prioritize their time investment to focus on high impact instructional activities that promote interaction, presence and participation (Mandernach, Forrest, Babuzke & Manaker, 2009). To maximize teaching time, faculty must do three things: 1) create an efficient online classroom; 2) manage teaching time more effectively; and 3) invest available time to the teaching activities with the greatest impact. Put simply, before an online instructor can implement best practice approaches to foster interaction and engagement, he/she must have the necessary time to do so. Once this time becomes available, it is essential to dedicate this time to targeted instructional activities that promote ongoing dialogue and engagement.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student Engagement: The extent to which students are motivated, invested and interested in their learning experiences; reflects students’ attitudes toward the learning process.

Content Repository: A collection of online or digital content with management capabilities to store, organize or retrieve information.

Web 2.0: Internet applications that go beyond static presentation of information; often allow users to create or edit multimedia, collaborate with other users or interact with content.

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS): Short, informal, formative assessment activities that provide quick insight into student learning; results from CATS often used to guide teaching and learning activities.

Efficient Teaching: An approach to instruction that streamlines repetitive, administrative or supplemental instructional tasks to ensure adequate time for higher-order teaching activities.

Simultaneity: Engaging in two activities at the same time.

Pareto Principle: The notion that 80% of effects can be attributed to 20% of causes.

Fast-Thinking Processes: Strategy for automatically processing information that produces quick, efficient decisions with minimal conscious attention.

Online Course Development: The process of creating the foundation of an online course that includes developing the course structure, format, learning materials, activities, and assignments.

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