The Vital Importance of Faculty Presence in an Online Learning Environment

The Vital Importance of Faculty Presence in an Online Learning Environment

Ni Chang (Indiana University – South Bend, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch042

Abstract

One of the instructional methods, which is favored by students and which could arguably provide high quality educational opportunities, is faculty presence, as it makes possible the interaction between instructor and students and between students and students in a virtual learning environment. Online instructors and academic administrators in higher education cannot simply hold an assumption that quality online courses or student learning could largely depend upon good internet connectivity, high quality equipment, solid content knowledge of instructors, and beautifully designed online courses. The presence of an online instructor cannot ever be neglected or marginalized in online students' learning success. Therefore, it is highly significant to address the roles that instructors play in an online learning environment in order to underscore the crucial importance of faculty presence in the success of student learning.
Chapter Preview
Top

Background

The Paradigm Shift

An ever increasing number of colleges and universities are transferring courses from face-to-face (F2F) classroom meetings to online learning environments, as students seek out different sources for their educational experience (Welch & Napoleon, 2015). More than 6.7 million students reportedly took at least one online course during the fall semester of 2011, 570,000 more students enrolled themselves in distance education than those in the previous year (Welch & Napoleon, 2015). Recently, more than 60% of administrators primarily in charge of academics at more than 2,800 colleges and universities in the United States made clear that shifting courses from F2F meetings to online was critical to their long-term strategies (Allen & Seaman, 2013).

With the ever expanding online education and given that online instruction differs distinctively from the traditional F2F instruction (Roman, Kelsey, & Lin, 2010), roles that an online instructor play in a virtual learning environment deserve a great deal of attention, as they underline the necessity of teacher presence in an online learning environment.

Hernández et al.’s (2010) study focused on the roles an instructor played in both e- and traditional learning environments. The researchers performed a comparative analysis of students’ perceptions with 33 participants involved in a F2F traditional teaching while 23 students engaged in an online environment. Both of the groups taught by the same instructor. Hernández et al found students’ perceptions varied regarding the roles that the instructor played in the F2F and online contexts. Generally, F2F group valued the instructor’s role in the learning process more highly than the online group. The findings suggest online instructors ought to make additional efforts to better student learning.

reported that students of distance education classes performed poorly and some even were not able to complete online courses. Furthermore, there seems to have higher dropout rates within online courses than F2F settings, which might be due to a lack of support from instructor and peers and which might be due to students feeling emotionally isolated (Artino & Jones, 2012; Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012). The reported findings offer a strong indication that online instructors need to meet the needs of students (Orso & Doolittle, 2012; Welch, Napoleon, Hill, & Rommell, 2014) by playing a variety of roles in online learning classrooms. Hence, in the paradigm shift, a crucial need is to understand roles that online instructors play in a virtual learning environment (Dennen, Darabi, & Smith, 2007) in order to highlight the paramount importance of faculty presence in an online learning environment.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset