Online Learning: Demotivators and Motivators of Faculty Online Teaching Participation

Online Learning: Demotivators and Motivators of Faculty Online Teaching Participation

Thomas G. Reio, Cyntianna C. Ledesma Ortega
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4249-2.ch027
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Online education continues to grow appreciably to meet both institutional needs for short- and long-term viability and student personal and professional needs for flexible delivery of course offerings. Faculty remains decidedly ambivalent, however, about the legitimacy of online course offerings. This doubt emerges from perceptions of: increased workloads as compared to face-to-face courses, inadequate compensation, lack of a fair reward system for promotion and tenure, and online course inferiority as a means of fostering optimal learning. After being identified through a structured review of recent empirical research, demotivators (e.g., questionable learning outcomes) and motivators (e.g., opportunity for personal growth) of faculty online teaching participation are examined through the lens of self-determination theory. Recommendations such as providing increased support are put forward to increase the likelihood of faculty online teaching.
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Distance education encompasses planned learning in which teacher and student are separated by location at least the majority of the time. The learning may be synchronous, but is most often asynchronous, which necessitates special course design and instructional techniques and communication through various technologies. Distance education also entails making special organizational and administrative arrangements to deliver learning materials (Moore & Kearsley, 2005).

Distance education programs are increasingly becoming a part of mainstream education (Chapman, 2011; Mitchell & Geva-May, 2009). In the most recent annual Going the Distance survey of online education (sponsored by The Sloan Consortium), 65.5% of responding university’s chief academic officers indicated that online education was of strategic importance to the long-term standing and viability of the institution (Allen & Seaman, 2011). However, only 32% of the faculty at the institutions accepted the value and legitimacy of online education (56.5% were neutral, and 11.4% disagreed; Allen & Seaman, 2011). Because of the apparent disconnect between what university administrators perceive to be the importance of distance education as a strategic imperative versus faculty ambivalence about its legitimacy as a means of teaching and learning, educators must find a way to narrow this disconnect. Online enrollments continue to grow 10% annually in higher education (2% for overall student population growth); clearly, ways must be found to balance student demand for online education and faculty’s willingness to teach online more completely (Allen & Seaman, 2011). Thus, we ask, “How can we make online teaching more appealing to faculty to promote the value and acceptance of online education?”

As a productive start, we should first understand the reasons why faculty remains unconvinced about the viability of teaching online (Black, 2012; Rockwell, Schauer, Fritz, & Marx, 1999). The most salient reasons include: the perception that the workload of online courses tends to be higher than that of traditional courses (e.g., Haber & Mills, 2008; Shea, 2007), compensation for teaching online is inadequate (e.g., Haber & Mills, 2008; Hiltz, Kim, & Shea, 2007), the reward system as it relates to faculty promotion and tenure is unfair (e.g., Shea, 2007), and that online learning is inferior to face-to-face learning (e.g., Mitchell & Geva-May, 2009). Identifying and better understanding these faculty demotivators for teaching online can lead us to finding solutions to the vexing divide between administrator demands for teaching online (e.g., ostensibly to meet market needs) vs. faculty willingness to do so.

The purpose of this chapter was to explore addressing the demotivators identified by faculty to initiate gaining acceptance of online education. First, we will provide a brief history of, and definitions for, distance and online education. Second, we present self-determination theory as a lens to understand faculty motivation to teach online. Third, we identify the most significant demotivators for embracing online education, followed by presenting promising motivators and their respective values through a motivational lens, along with possible solutions to the demotivating factors. Last, we provide a forecast for faculty acceptance of online education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Education: Online education is a course format where students and instructors correspond and interact using virtual methods such as: email, Web conferencing, and learning management systems and are delivered asynchronously.

Traditional/Face-to-Face Courses: Traditional or face-to-face courses refers to courses which are located in a brick-and-mortar campus. Students and instructors meet at a set time and place.

Learning Management System: Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are software applications where online courses are designed and delivered to students. A few popular LMSs are: Blackboard, Moodle, Angel, and Desire 2 Learn.

The Self-Determination Theory: The Self-Determination Theory focuses on the type of motivation, not the amount, which catalyze people to being new tasks. The types of motivation are divided in to six parts: intrinsic motivation, external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, integrated motivation, and amotivation.

Hybrid Courses: Hybrid courses are traditional courses which have an online component. Some hybrid courses meet regularly and have additional assignments or discussions online. Other hybrid courses do the majority of the course work online and meet in person for discussions.

Distance Education: Distance education is a course format where the student and instructor are separated by time or location for all or the majority of the course term and are delivered asynchronously.

Social Presence: Social presence for the purpose of this chapter is defined as the feeling of community that a student and instructor experience in online learning environments.

Motivators: Motivators are the factors that increase a person’s desire to pursue a task.

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