Navigating the Lack of Face Time: The Instructor Role in the Online Classroom

Navigating the Lack of Face Time: The Instructor Role in the Online Classroom

Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana (University of California – Berkeley, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5051-0.ch006
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The online classroom provides instructors with the ultimate challenge of replicating a face-to-face setting without having actual face time. Both new and experienced online instructors struggle with limited communication and personal connections in the online classroom. Teaching online is missing the visual cues of confused facial expressions and raised hands to signal the need for elaboration or clarification. Additionally, instructors rarely meet their online students or get to know who they are as individuals. In attempting to navigate the differences caused by this lack of personal contact, online instructors take on expanded and new responsibilities, including orienting students to online learning, communicating with students, monitoring student progress, creating community, managing the online course, and providing feedback. This chapter explores the unique challenge of teaching online and how online instructors address their responsibilities with these challenges in mind. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews with 23 online instructors from two community colleges, the analysis described below includes insight from instructors from disciplines ranging from Math and Chemistry to English and Humanities with a range of experience in online instruction including first semester online instructors and 10 year veterans.
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Setting The Stage

The transition from face-to-face instruction to teaching online involved an adjustment for all of the interviewed instructors as they often learned through the experience of teaching online how online instruction was different. Key to their transition to online instructor was the question of how face-to-face courses should compare to online. Most of the instructors wanted to replicate their face-to-face courses online as much as possible, but found it challenging to do so. Instructors identified three key ways in which teaching online was different that made it challenging to create an exact replication of their in-person course.

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