Faculty Issues in Online Education: A New Book Examines Best Practices in Managing an Online Learning Program

Article excerpt

* AN ADMINISTRATOR'S GUIDE TO ONLINE EDUCATION IS AN ESSENTIAL REsource for the higher education administrator. Unlike most books regarding online education, this book is not about teaching; it is about effectively administrating an online education program. Grounded in existing distance education theory and drawing from best practices, current research, and an extensive review of current literature, the book systematically identifies and discusses seven key issues that affect the practice of online education today: leadership and strategic planning, policy and operation, faculty, online student services, online student success, technology and the courseware management system, and finally, marketing. The authors provide case studies, examples, policies, and resources from actual institutions, which further enhance the value of this text.

Kaye Shelton is the director of Online Education for Dallas Baptist University as well as a certified online instructor. Under her leadership, the Dallas Baptist University Online Education program has won multiple awards in exemplary online course development. She also practices as an online education consultant and has served as an advisor regarding online education programs for many peer institutions.

George Saltsman, the director of Educational Technology for the Adams Center of Teaching Excellence at Abilene Christian University (Texas), also serves as an adjunct part-time instructor for the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. He managed ACU's distance education efforts for more than eight years, helping establish the initial strategic planning documents and the university's first online courses.

The book is available from Information Age Publishing (www.infoagepub.com). Note: This excerpt does not include citations of source material, which can be seen online at www.universitybusiness.com/exclusives.

Since online education is a new paradigm, many faculty are unprepared for the fundamental differences in the roles required for teaching online. A higher level of involvement by administrators in faculty support is needed to ensure success. Seven issues exist related to faculty that administrators must address: faculty buy-in, policies that address faculty concerns, selection of faculty, faculty compensation, an understanding of faculty workloads, faculty support, and faculty satisfaction. Here, we focus on three of these most widely discussed issues in online education today: faculty compensation, faculty workload, and faculty selection.

FACULTY COMPENSATION

Faculty must find reward in teaching online. Most faculty find the intrinsic rewards of online education outweigh the extrinsic rewards; however, faculty must function in a culture that respects their time, efforts, and intellectual output. This is demonstrated most visibly in compensation and how much consideration online participation is given in the promotion and tenure process.

Compensation and incentives encourage faculty to participate in online activities and reward those that participate. Incentive structures and policy need to be examined as online education moves mainstream. Moving the program to the mainstream requires administrators to focus on compensation, incentives, and perks, and how consideration for promotion and tenure reflects participation in online education programs.

COURSELOAD AND COMPENSATION

Courseload consideration for online instruction is the most common form of compensation. The National Education Association reported 73 percent of NEA members who taught online courses were compensated as part of their normal courseload. This does not mean that courseload reduction was the exclusive form of compensation, as other enticements such as additional compensation, perks, or other incentives may also be offered.

At most institutions of higher education in the United States, faculty load is calculated in the number of semester credit hours taught with courseload reductions or equivalencies routinely given for research or other scholarly activities. …