Teaching, technology, and time : perceptions of use of time by higher education faculty teaching online courses and teaching in traditional classroom settings
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This study investigated the practices, perceptions, and time expenditures of post-secondary instructors in American institutions as they prepared for, taught, and reflected on the tasks involved in teaching a one-semester course. The participants either taught in a traditional face-to-face setting or in an all-online context. This study compares and contrasts the experiences of the participants. Although research in the business field includes models for improving productivity, the world of education rarely looks at these subjects, especially in the context of what leads to a successful course. The few studies there have been on similar topics in education have generally failed to provide consensus on amount of time the delivery of an online course requires and on the factors that contribute to that time difference. A clear trend in higher education is the growing use of instructional technology tools that can help instructors meet the needs of students and facilitate the teaching process. However, these changes also bring about challenges for faculty, challenges that must be examined, understood, and addressed in order to ensure the best possible learning environment for everyone involved. This study was designed to examine faculty teaching practices and gain insight into the experiences of faculty teaching classroom-based courses and faculty teaching online or Web-based courses. A qualitative, case study approach was used to conduct an in-depth investigation that focused on the tools and methods that faculty members employ to help them optimize the time they devote to course activities. The study also revealed a set of good practices used by these faculty members. Data included semi-structured interviews, faculty profile questionnaires, and teaching journals. Findings revealed that faculty teaching online recorded an average of one hour per week more on their courses than did faculty teaching in the classroom. There was minimal difference in time commitment between online and classroom-based faculty participants when considering factors such as gender, type of higher education institution, and experience level. Overall, perceptions of faculty workload averaged three hours more than the actual time recorded during the journaling phase of the study, with all of the face-to-face instructors perceiving that they would work more hours than they actually logged on their journals. Only half of the online instructors perceived that they would work more hours than they actually logged. Significant issues brought to light for faculty in both delivery formats included (1) lack of adequate or sufficient preparation for teaching, (2) limited availability of faculty training, and (3) lack of sufficient time to teach. The study also revealed the variation of instructional strategies used for comparison, and a set of common good practices that apply to both online and face-to-face courses.