J. Hadsell1, K. Geller2

1Sacramento City College (UNITED STATES)
2Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
This quantitative study sought to identify the institutional support and challenges available to experienced faculty who teach online at a Northern California Community college. Twenty-eight faculty from a single community college site and with a minimum of 3 semesters of online experience responded to a survey with likert and open-ended questions.

The data indicated that faculty who successfully adapt to teaching in online classrooms appear to be burdened by institutional constraints that fail to account for the significant differences in the online teaching environment. Outdated institutional practices and sometimes-inflexible mental models held by college leaders appear to present impediments to instructional effectiveness for an instructor teaching online. Many of the important challenges facing online instructors in public colleges may be a result of institutional policies and practices that have yet to be re-examined with consideration for the modern online professor.

These barriers are leading online faculty toward burnout, may be harming instructional efficiency, and in some cases, may be depriving students of fully focused online professors. Faculty participants describe what it has taken to overcome these kinds of barriers, and suggest that the need to work around institutional obstacles may be negatively impacting the academic achievement of online students.

Based on the current research, experienced online faculty perceive institutional policies and practices to be an area of frustration identifying: (1) policies which don’t consider distance education faculty; (2) the extended time related to development of instructional content; (3) the unrecognized 24/7 nature of faculty student interactions; (4) shared offices that don’t accommodate on-line course activities and (4) a lack or laptop computers and tablets to accommodate “working from a distance.” Additionally, these experienced online faculty perceived that students enrolling in their online classes were under-prepared, under-motivated, or have false expectations about the nature of online learning and this contributes to the students’ lower rates of success.