As the demand for online and blended/hybrid courses increases, necessary technologies rapidly morph and faculty members require more training and development for this new technology. While the use of some time-management techniques have been shown to have some effect on faculty members’ ability to better handle the load, very little research specifically investigates how faculty members teaching online and blended/hybrid courses handle the often time-consuming process of keeping courses on the cutting edge (Whalen, 2009). One study shows that faculty members tend to shy away from teaching blended courses because they need more time to master the instruction’s complexity, to plan and organize, adjust to the role, and learn and adopt the new technologies (Ocak, 2011). In addition, faculty members in this study reported a lack of institutional support and a lack of effective communication to get an online or blended/hybrid course started (Ocak, 2011). With so many potential issues with adding online and blended/hybrid classes to a course load, teachers must be receive additional training and support, including technical skills, pedagogical awareness, and time management practices, (Gonzalez, 2009; Ocak, 2011; Whalen, 2009).
Time management practices can include: work-life balance planning, using technology appropriately, delegation, prioritizing, and goal setting (Whalen, 2009). Having additional support and training in these areas can greatly aide a faculty member’s transition from a traditional classroom to an online or blended/hybrid environment. Some suggestions for adding support in these areas includes using email that give tips to faculty members either planning or teaching an online or blended/hybrid course(s) (Whalen, 2009). While emails can offer support, more formal training from the university will increase faculty members’ views of having institutional support and more effective communication with the institution. A formal training can also provide opportunities for questions and concerns to be addressed and resolved as much as possible. In addition, while blended/hybrid courses give teachers a great deal of freedom to help students learn, it won’t be obvious to them how they can spend their time in an optimal way; proper time management training can help alleviate this (Hernandez, 2011).
Training in time management can help solve some of faculty members’ frequent fears about teaching online or blended/hybrid courses. Planning and organizing can be easily addressed as an extension of time management, which brings opportunities for better course designs and more effective learning. Adjusting to the role of teaching online or blended/hybrid courses can also become a portion of the time management training, as faculty learn the balance required from them and ways to manage the new role effectively.
Faculty also need to be trained to conceive teaching as a student-focused endeavor to help them frame e-learning as an opportunity for them to support “quality learning experiences” (Gonzalez, 2009). Teachers with a teaching focus may tend to compartmentalize face-to-face and online learning, instead of integrating them to amplify or personalize learning. In fact, without a learning-focused approach, online and blended/hybrid courses will likely do little to enhance student learning (Gonzalez, 2009). Faculty preparing to teach online or blended/hybrid courses need to be introduced to a student-focused approach for their course(s) and be impressed upon on how important this approach will be for not only their students’ experience, but also for their own perception of and experience with online and blended/hybrid teaching. Such pedagogical awareness will bring greater ease to the transition into faculty members’ new role and help to plan and organize the course(s) more effectively.
Technical training will also help prepare faculty members for teaching online and blended/hybrid courses, as well as maintain competency for those already teaching these courses. Because technology changes so frequently, new software and hardware become available almost daily that could enhance the learning experience in an online or blended/hybrid course. Institutions can offer greater support to their faculty by giving regular training on what technologies can be effectively used with the equipment available. Such training will also increase faculty members’ confidence in their ability to teach courses in this way (Ocak, 2011). Proper technical training will also help with time management as faculty can more competently choose technologies that will work best with their class design.
Although being new to teaching online and blended/hybrid courses can be very intimidating for faculty members, much can be done to help them be prepared and more comfortable. An institution must offer support through training in time management, changing faculty members’ pedagogical approach, and adequate technical training.
Gonzalez, C (2009). Teaching in ‘blended’ learning environments: How are conceptions of teaching and eTeaching associated? Proceedings ascilite Auckland, 2009.
Hernandez, A (2011). Blended learning’s impact on teacher development. Clayton Christensen Institute, July 11, 2011. Retrieved from <http://www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learnings-impact-on-teacher-development/>.
Ocak, MA (2011). Whay are faculty members not teaching blended courses? Insights from faculty members. Computers & Education: 56(3): 689-699.