Current Issue

Contingent and Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty:
Motivations and Incentives to Teach Distance

Frank Butts
Diane Chapman

by Diane Chapman    

The number of distance education (DE) offerings, including programs and courses, continue to grow in higher education. The current economic hardships have only increased the demand. However, with this increase comes the urgent need to maintain a reliable and consistent DE faculty. This need is complicated by the increasing reliance on contingent faculty to teach DE courses. While previous research has focused on the motivators and incentives of DE faculty members, little has been explored about the differences between the contingent and tenured/tenure-track instructors. This paper reports the findings of a study focused on the motivations of and incentives for two groups of faculty members who teach distance education courses, tenured/tenure-track and contingent. The study compared the motivators and incentives that drive each group's decisions to participate in DE instruction.

Maximizing Learning Using Online Student Assessment

Frank Butts
Patrice Boyles

by Patrice Boyles

As the technological age reaches its peak, so does the need to improve assessment for online instruction. Assessment includes all activities that teachers and students undertake to get information that can be used to improve teaching and learning (Black and William,1998b). Assessment is a critical factor of the learning environment. The popularity of distance education and online assessment has forced educational institutions to revise delivery methods, reshape teaching methods and reevaluate learning environments. The transformation in delivery of instruction has consequently brought on the need to reassess how educational institutions are implementing online assessment. According to Allen and Seaman (2008), over 20% of all students took at least one online course in 2006; consequently this has brought more attention to the quality of online instruction. Today, educators are wavering in new territory and educational institutions are forced to adapt to an online environment and change curriculum to meet the needs of learners. The purpose of the study is to investigate pre-service teachers' perceptions of online assessment and its impact on student learning. . .

Creating a Supportive Culture for Online Teaching: A Case Study of a Faculty Learning Community

Daniel JuddMei-Yan Lu, Anne Marie Todd, Michael Miller

by Mei-Yan Lu
Anne Marie Todd
Michael Miller

This case study describes the creation of a supportive culture for online teaching at a western university that was transitioning to a new learning management system. The case study highlighted the creation of a faculty learning community as one strategy to address the challenge of faculty working through a change process. The faculty learning community provided a space for the development of best practices in teaching, drawing from the pedagogical experiences of teachers from diverse disciplines. The learning community also provided a venue for expanding the technical knowledge level of faculty members with a range of comfort levels with varied technologies.

Exploring Cloud Computing for Distance Learning
Daniel Judd
Wu He, Dan Cernusca, M'hammed Abdous

by Wu He
    Dan Cernusca
    M'hammed Abdous

The use of distance courses in learning is growing exponentially. To better support faculty and students for teaching and learning, distance learning programs need to constantly innovate and optimize their IT infrastructures. The new IT paradigm called "cloud computing" has the potential to transform the way that IT resources are utilized and consumed in education and is expected to have a large impact on educational computing during the next few years. With its focus on helping distance learning administrators and practitioners to understand cloud computing and to make plans for successful cloud adoption, this paper provides insights into the adoption of cloud computing for distance learning, based on a thorough review of the literature about cloud computing. Implications and considerations for additional research are provided as well.

A Predictive Validity Study of The Revised Mcvay Readiness for Online Learning Questionaire
Frank Butts
Michael Hall

by Michael Hall

The McVay Revised Readiness for Online Learning questionnaire was given to 116 traditional on-campus and 31 distance education students. The students were enrolled in an introductory class in computer applications on an urban campus of a mid-western community college. Multiple regression equations were developed with the survey scores and the student's declared major to determine the extent to which the questionnaire score predicted final semester grades. Although the student's declared major explained most of the variance in their final semester grades, the questionnaire score explained 10% of the observed variance in the final grade in the distance education student group. The questionnaire score was not statistically significant for traditional on-campus students. A suggested cutoff score for the questionnaire was calculated and implications for administrative practice are outlined. Recommendations for further research are suggested.

Information Found and Not Found: What University Websites Tell Students
Daniel Judd
Katrina Meyer
David Woolstenhulme
Stephanie Jones

by Katrina Meyer
Stephanie Jones

This study investigates how graduate students experience their university websites, or the institutional "virtual face." The sample included graduate students admitted to online and blended higher education programs at Texas Tech University and the University of Memphis. A total of 42 students provided open-ended answers to questions about information they needed, could not find, or found with much effort. Their responses paint a picture of adult students who often struggle to find basic information or services (e.g., email login, registration) on institutional websites that are important functions for graduate students. They were also asked what messages the websites produced and should produce and who the intended audience was. The students perceive the audience to be students, but still find the messages mostly to be about marketing the institution rather than addressing their functional needs.

Rapid Development of Hybrid Courses for Distance Education: A Midwestern University's Pilot Project

Frank Butts
Jodi Rust

by Jodi Rust

A descriptive case study was used to explore how repurposing and a pedagogical-based instructional design model, the multimodal model (Picciano, 2009), were used to create quality distance education courses in a rapid development setting at a Midwestern land grant university. Data triangulation was used to secure data from faculty member interviews, course syllabi, and Desire to Learn (D2L) tours of the hybrid courses. From the research findings, the technique of repurposing did help faculty members develop hybrid courses in a rapid development setting. However, the multimodal model's (Picciano, 2009) implementation was less successful. Faculty members found this pedagogical-based model easy to use; but it was not used to its fullest potential. The hybrid courses developed in this case study exhibited faculty-driven content. These faculty-driven courses led to implementation problems and quality issues.


A Mixed Model Design Study of RN to BS Distance Learning: Survey of Graduates' Perceptions of Strengths and Challenges

Daniel Judd
Leonard Lock,Zoanne Schnell, Jerrilynn Pratt-Mullen

by Leonard Lock,
Zoanne Schnell,
Jerrilynn Pratt-Mullen

This article reports on findings from a survey administered to graduates of a distance learning RN-to-BS completion program. A questionnaire was constructed to examine graduate experiences and perceptions regarding distance learning formats, course content, time management, student empowerment, and program support. A total of 251 surveys were distributed and 82 useable surveys collected for analysis. The survey included demographic, quantitative, and qualitative items. Analysis of variance and correlations were used to examine quantitative and demographic data. The qualitative item responses were coded, with interrater agreement ranging from .83 to .93. The pattern of results were compared with the literature and supported: (a) the salience of online RN to BS program delivery, especially related to candidate employment during the educational process; (b) the importance of linking practice and theory; (c) the relevance of blending and 'psychological presence' (Shin, 2003); and (d) the empowerment engendered in the student to seek online learning opportunities beyond RN-to-BS completion nursing courses for lifelong learning.


From the Editor

Melanie Clay

Dear Readers:
In this issue, we have eight articles on topics ranging from faculty incentives to student assessment to university websites, and more.  Diane Chapman of North Carolina State University shares her research about what motivates faculty, both tenure-track and contingent, to teach online.  This area always needs further research because it changes so rapidly. Many of the reasons that faculty choose to teach online today are quite different than the reasons of  two years ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. In many cases, the offering of online programs is essential to the survival and certainly the prosperity of some programs. Thus, we see that online teaching is becoming more of an expectation and less of an option.  This brings me to another area where I’d like to see more research, and that is how programs should be selected for online delivery. Do we put our most popular programs online to provide accessibility to a greater number of students? Or, do we put small, struggling, but important programs online in the hopes that increased enrollments will enable their continuance? Likewise, is it better to put the most popular programs online – the ones that have proven successful at other institutions? Or is it better to avoid these duplications and offer online programs in niche areas of institutional specialization? I’d love to hear your thoughts – informal or in a full-blown article. Happy reading and enjoy the fall.

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
September 15, 2011;

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Last modified: September 15th, 2011