Implementing a collaborative support model for online faculty: A case study
Julia Rae Adams, University of Virginia, United States
University of Virginia . Awarded
Online instruction is experiencing a tremendous growth at institutions of higher education. As a consequence, these institutions are facing the challenge of providing effective support for their faculty who are teaching online classes. In the past four years, the number of online classes offered at Germanna Community College has grown from the initial 4 to 53 and the number of online instructors has increased from 3 to 21. The challenge for the College is to provide effective support for online faculty given limited resources and personnel.
Traditionally, the support that has been provided faculty involved in distance education has been top-down. That is, administrators and technical staff determined what training and technical support the instructors would receive and how this support would be delivered. However, current literature suggests the value of using collaboration as a means to provide effective support. As a result, the focus of this study was on implementing a collaborative support model for online instructors at Germanna Community College. Using action research, with its emphasis on solving a social problem, the researcher created a case study that documented the process involved in implementing the collaborative support model.
The participants in the study were the 16 full-time faculty at the College who taught online classes during the semester of the research project. Data were collected through interviews, observation notes, a review of College documents, and participant feedback surveys. Multiple sources of data consisted of the participants, administrators with responsibilities for online instruction, technical support staff, observation notes, and College documents.
The research findings indicated that the administration had a limited understanding of online instruction and that the College provided limited support to online faculty. In terms of implementing the support model, time and scheduling factors had a considerable negative impact on collaboration. At the end of the semester, the participants expressed a strong degree of satisfaction with the support provided by the collaborative model.
Adams, J.R. Implementing a collaborative support model for online faculty: A case study. Ph.D. thesis, University of Virginia.
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