Faculty preparedness for transition to teaching online courses in the Iowa Community College Online Consortium
Author(s)Lichoro, David Muturia
KeywordsEducation (Educational Leadership)
Higher Education Faculty
Educational Administration and Supervision
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AbstractThe recent growth of the internet has had a large impact on education and caused a growing demand for online courses at community colleges. There has also been a demand for hybrid courses, which offer a compromise between the flexibility of online courses and the personal interaction of face-to-face courses. Online and hybrid courses provide new educational opportunities for students who are unable to attend traditional face-to-face classes because of conflicts due to work and other responsibilities. This is particularly true of community college students, who are often nontraditional adult learners. Although students and institutions can clearly benefit from increasing online offerings, many issues such as faculty preparation to teach online courses still remain. The purpose of this dissertation was first to look at the experiences of community college faculty members who first started teaching in face-to-face classroom format and transitioned to teaching online, and secondly to conduct an analysis of their reported experiences. Considering the importance of bringing teachers' voices to the discussion of transitioning to online teaching, a phenomenological qualitative research, involving the use of semi-structured interviews with eight faculty members drawn from four Iowa community colleges that belong to Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) was conducted. Participants were asked to describe their experiences in transitioning from teaching in a face-to-face classroom environment to teaching online. Interview questions focused on their prior assumptions about online education, their preparation for online teaching and the identification of information they would recommend as vital for successful online teaching. Participation was voluntary and participants were selected by both criterion and network sampling. Interviews were conducted in person, audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed using Nvivo software for recurring themes. Data were validated using member checks and peer reviews. An analysis within each and across the eight community college faculty member interviews yielded several themes that emerged from the faculty experiences of transitioning to online teaching. The categories included: (a) Faculty preparedness to teach online and transitioning to teach online, (b) Teaching in the online environment, (c) Mentors and mentoring, (d) Institutional support and resources, (e) Faculty role as facilitators of learning, (f) Time and effort to teach online for structuring and delivering content online, (g) Teacher-student communication and online relationships, (h) Schedule flexibility, (i)Student Evaluation of Teaching, (j)The essential role of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium. The findings of this study seem to lead to the conclusion that making the transition from face-face teaching to online instruction experience is considerably time consuming and changes faculty's role and teaching responsibilities. Most of the participants in this study, both the seasoned faculty members and the relatively inexperienced, unanimously seemed to concur that they did not feel adequately prepared to teach in the online setting. All faculty members interviewed cited mentorship as being one of the benefits of being a member of the consortium. This study revealed the depth of the problems and opportunities associated with transitioning to online teaching in a rapidly changing environment.