Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

OFF-SITE FACULTY: Perspectives on Online Experiences

Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

OFF-SITE FACULTY: Perspectives on Online Experiences

Article excerpt

This report presents a cross case analysis involving faculty teaching online from off-site international and interstate locations. The study yielded enabling factors, benefits, communication systems, and challenges in the areas of administration, curriculum, communications, and faculty characteristics. The benefits included the opportunity to be involved in an online teaching and learning model where both the student and the faculty members were at a distance from the physical campus. Retention of experienced faculty, continued utilization of faculty with critical expertise, expansion of the faculty teaching pool, faculty development, and enhanced program visibility were judged to be additional benefits. The major challenges primarily involved communications.

INTRODUCTION

While increasingly large numbers of students are flocking to online courses (Sloan, 2008), a small but perhaps critically important number of faculty are now teaching online from locations that are at a distance from a physical campus. This newer phenomenon was the focus of a study that investigated two purposively selected cases where faculty taught from remote locations. One location was interstate and the other was international.

ABBREVIATED SUMMARYOF REVIEW OF LITERA TURE

Previous research regarding faculty members involved in online instruction has focused on various aspects of online teaching including attitudes (Baldwin, 1998; Bonk, 2001, 2009; Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000; Lee, 2001; Maguire, 2005; National Education Association, 2000; Northrup, 1997; O'Quinn & Corry, 2002; Parisot, 1997), barriers (Berge, 1998; Betts, 1998; Chizmar & Williams, 2001; Dooley & Murphrey, 2000; Jones & Moller, 2002; Maguire, 2005; O'Quinn & Corry, 2002; Parisot, 1997; Rockwell, Schauer, Fritz, & Marx, 1999; Schifter, 2000) and motivators (Betts, 1998; Bonk, 2001; Chizmar & Williams, 2001; Dooley & Murphrey, 2000; Jones & Moller, 2002; Lee, 2001; Parisot, 1997; Rockwell et al., 1999; Schifter, 2000) to faculty participation, decisions regarding online teaching and the creation of quality courses (Green, Alejandro, & Brown, 2009; Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000; National Education Association, 2000; O'Quinn, 2002; Shea, 2007), and faculty engagement as a contributing factor for student success (McClure, 2007; Shelton & Saltsman, 2005).

These sources, while not specifically focused on the location of the faculty member, were reviewed and considered as related to this investigation. Similarly, literature from business involving managing and developing offsite employees was considered as useful (Dwyer, 2010; Janove, 2004; Javitch, 2007; Nichols, 2010). This investigation of the literature suggested that study was needed to contribute to understanding the emerging issues related to the use of off-site faculty for online instruction.

METHODOLOGY

Case methodology was selected for this study. The work of Yin (1994) informed this choice. Eisenhardt's (1989) guidance regarding theoretical rather than statistical sampling led to the selection of the two cases chosen for investigation. Pettigrew's (1988) recommendation that, when the number of cases is small, case selection should be made so as to extend or develop the emergence of theory was also used. Hence, the experiences of one faculty member teaching internationally and one faculty member teaching interstate were recorded, tabulated, and analyzed. Additionally, data was collected and analyzed from a department chair who had either present or past administrative responsibility for the program areas of these case faculty members. Both faculty members and the administrator are tenured and have been employed by the same university for more than 25 years. The university is a large, urban, public institution with a solid commitment to online delivery of courses.

For both cases, the relocation of a spouse was the primary driver for the desire to teach online from the remote location. …

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