Fall 2017- Volume 20 Issue 3


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The Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration is a peer-reviewed electronic journal offered free each quarter over the World Wide Web. The journal welcomes manuscripts based on original work of practitioners and researchers with specific focus or implications for the management of distance education programs. Click here to access our readership stats.
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Events & Learning

Distance Learning Administration 2018
June 24-27, 2018
Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Georgia

Conference on Meaningful Living and Learning in a Digital World
February 5-7, 2018
Savannah, Georgia

Distance Education
Certificate Program

Registration Begins
Fall 2017
Program Begins
January 22, 2018
June 2018

Distance Education
Certified Trainer Program

Registration Begins
Fall 2017
Program Begins
February 12, 2018
May 2018

Advanced Technologies for Distance Education Certificate Program
May 2018

Advanced Technologies for Distance Education Certificate Program
Registration Begins
Fall 2017
Program Begins
January 22, 2018
May 2018

Intro to Social Media Marketing Certificate Program
Registration Begins
Fall 2017
Online Program Begins
January 22, 2017
March 2018

Thanks to the
University of West Georgia
for providing this webspace

Editorial Board

Dr. Melanie Clay
University of West Georgia

Managing Editor
Ms. Kendall Dickey
University of West Georgia

Associate Editor
Ms. Julie Stone Ingle
University of West Georgia

Editorial Board
Dr. Mac Adkins
Troy University


Christopher L. A. Ahlstrom
Towson University

David Babb
University of North Georgia

Dr. R.-L. Etienne Barnett University of Atlanta (US) Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)

Mr. R. Thomas Berner
Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Kris Biesinger
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Dr. Beverly L. Bower
University of North Texas

Ms. Diane M. Burnette
University of Georgia

Erik Burns
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. W. Dean Care
Brandon University

Dr. Jason G. Caudill
King University

Yong Chen
Old Dominion University

Mr. Matthew N. Clay
University of West Georgia

Dr. Sherry A. Clouser
University of Georgia

Bradly Corlett

Dr. Ken Corley
Appalachian State University

Dr. Micheal Crafton
University of West Georgia

Dr. Muhammet Demirbilek
Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey

Dr. Robert N. Diotalevi
Florida Gulf Coast University

Pamala Dixon
University of West Georgia

Ms. Beth Evans
College Library of the City University of New York

Dr. Catherine L. Finnegan Advanced Learning Technologies,
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Jan Flegle
American Public University System

Dr. Larry V. Flegle
American Military University

Tanacha Gaines
University of West Georgia

Dr. Cher C. Hendricks
University of West Georgia

Dr. Katy Herbold
Southern Utah University

Mrs. Laurie G. Hillstock
Virginia Tech

Dr. Cathy Hochanadel
Kaplan University

Dr. Genell Hooper Harris
Centenary College of Louisiana

Dr. Scott L. Howell
Brigham Young University

Dr. Jason B. Huett
University of West Georgia

Dr. Thomas J. Hynes
Clayton State University

Dr. Sallie J. Johnson
USAF Air University, Air Command and Staff College

Dr. Harold J. Kearsley
Norwich University

Dr. John J. Ketterer
Jacksonville State University

Dr. James W. King
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

James Kinneer
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Irene Kokkala
University of North Georgia

Olabisi Kuboni (retired)
The University of West Indies

Dr. Sally Kuhlenschmidt
Western Kentucky University

Ms. Elizabeth D. Larzelere M.S.
New York Chiropractic College

Melissa Layne
American Public University System

Dr. Andrew Leavitt
University of North Georgia


Dr. Lauryl A. Lefebvre

University of Phoenix

Ms. Nancy Lee
University of Nevada

Dr. Elke M. Leeds
Kennesaw State University


Dr. Amanda E. Major
University of Central Florida

Christopher Mathews-Smith M.A.
Emory University

Dr. Jennifer McLean
Pennsylvania College of Technology

COL Philip A. McNair (USA, ret.)
American Public University System

Dr. Marc D. Miller
Augusta State University

Dr. Nancy Griffin Mims, Ed.D.
University of West Georgia

Dr. Mary Jo Muratore
University of Missouri - Columbia

Anna Obedkova
University of Texas of Arlington

Dr. Abbot L. Packard
University of West Georgia

Dr. Angie Parker
Northcentral University

Dr. Shawn M. Quilter
Eastern Michigan University

Dr. Ravic P. Ringlaben
University of West Georgia

Dr. Michael Rogers
Advanced Learning Technologies,
Board of Regents of the
University System of Georgia


Dr. Beth Rene Roepnack
University of West Georgia Associate Director of Online Faculty Development
University of West Georgia

Dr. Peter J. Shapiro
Director of Creative Learning Services
Florida State College at Jacksonville

Dr. LeAnn McKinzie Thomason
Brownsville, Texas

Mitzi P. Trahan, Ph.D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Thomas J. Tobin
Author and Speaker

Dr. Joann Kroll Wheeler
Texas A & M University

Past OJDLA Editors
Dr. Stephen J. Anspacher
The New School

Dr. Michael Beaudoin
University of New England

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett
University of West Georgia

Janet Gubbins
University of West Georgia

Ms. Tammy Hamm-Ronsisvalle
Synergy Plus Inc.

Rayma Harchar, Ed. D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Nataliya V. Ivankova
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Kathleen A. Kraus
State University of New York at New Paltz

Dr. Dwight Laws
Brigham Young University

Dr. George E. Marsh II
The University of Alabama


Dr. Barbara K. McKenzie
University of West Georgia

Dr. Paul F. Merrill
Brigham Young University

Mr. Bob Reese
Reese Consulting Associates, Inc.

Dr. M. D. Roblyer
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Mr. Timothy W. Seid
Earlham School of Religion

Dr. Barbara L. Watkins
University of Kansas

Current Issue

Faculty Personality: A Factor of Student Retention

Cassandra S. Shaw
Xiaodong Wu
Kathleen C. Irwin
L.A. Chad Patrizi

by Cassandra S. Shaw
Xiaodong Wu
Kathleen C. Irwin
L.A. Chad Patrizi

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between student retention and faculty personality as it was hypothesized that faculty personality has an effect on student retention. The methodology adopted for this study was quantitative and in two parts 1) using linear regression models to examine the impact or causality of faculty personality types on student retention; and 2) using the 16PF® Questionnaire survey study of faculty personality. Further, this study identified non-personality related factors that had a significant impact on student retention; these factors acted as controlled factors in the regression study on faculty personality. Using the 16Pf® Questionnaire, 180 item responses were aggregated into 19 raw scores and 43 sten scores; each represented one of the personality factors described by the 16Pf® Questionnaire. In addition, linear regression models were used to examine the impact of faculty personality types on student retention data. The ultimate findings indicated that student retention largely depended on student GPA. Students who possessed a high GPA tended to be more successful at completing their courses in the short and long term. Students who possessed a high GPA was a dominate factor; however, faculty personality factors also had a significant contribution to students completing their degree program.

Help at 3:00 AM! Providing 24/7 Timely Support to Online Students via a Virtual Assistant

Phu Vu

Scott Fredrickson

Richard Meyer

by Phu Vu
Scott Fredrickson
Richard Meyer

With a dearth of research on human-robot interaction in education and relatively high non-completion rates of online students, this study was conducted to determine the feasibility of using a virtual assistant (VA) to respond to questions and concerns of students and provide 24/7 online course content support. During a 16 week-long academic semester, four hundred and seventy five interactions between the virtual assistant and learners in two online course sections were generated. On the average, the virtual assistant had 4.2 interactions with the students each day. Three hundred and twenty one interactions out of 475 (67.6%) were made during weekend hours, and 422 interactions (88.8%) were conducted between 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM - time the human instructor usually was unviable, thereby providing better and more efficient access for the students. The students were almost unanimous that they enjoyed/appreciated working with the virtual assistant, felt they had better and more immediate support from the VA than they had in previous online classes, and believed that the VA helped them understand the material better.

Faculty Technology Usage Resulting from Institutional Migration to a New Learning Management System

Ryan Rucker

Steve Downey

by Ryan Rucker
Steve Downey

Research literature is flush with articles discussing how teachers use individual learning management systems. However, very few studies examine how faculty are affected as they move from one platform to another. This study addresses that gap and examines how faculty adapt their online teaching practices as they migrate systems. In doing so, faculty usage levels were examined for 10 common teaching tools found in two prominent systems, Blackboard and Desire2Learn. Two broad conclusions emerged from the study. First, faculty usage is highly dependent upon system affordances; systems perceived as cumbersome will repress faculty's use of tools and subsequently will alter their teaching practices. Second, faculty adoption rates are not equal across disciplines. As a result, additional training and support may be required for certain units.

An Examination of Adjunct Faculty Characteristics: Comparison between Non-Profit and For-Profit Institutions
Keith Starcher
B. Jean Mandernach

by Keith Starcher
B. Jean Mandernach

Institutions must understand the unique characteristics and motivations of adjunct faculty teaching online to more effectively support a diverse faculty population. The current study examines faculty characteristics and motivations to explore differences in the types of adjunct faculty teaching at non-profit or for-profit institutions. A survey of 859 part-time, online instructors found no statistically significant differences for gender, level of education, faculty typology (e.g., hope to obtain full time in higher education), or satisfaction; small differences were found in relation to ethnicity, academic experience, level of instruction (undergraduate or graduate), class size, and willingness to recommend online adjunct teaching to others. The results suggest that online adjunct faculty at for-profit and non-profit institutions are remarkably similar with regards to personal and academic characterstics as well as their motivation for and satisfaction with teaching online in an adjunct capacity. Not only does this lend support for the assumption that the nature of instruction is likely similar across for-profit and non-profit institutions, but also that best practices in faculty training, support and mentoring can be shared across institutional types. Recognizing the similarity in academic experience and preparation of online adjuncts, it allows faculty development initiatives and research to be shared, adapted and generalized across a wide range of of institutional types.

How Faculty Learn To Teach Online: What Administrators Need to Know

Steven W. Schmidt

Christina M. Tschida

Elizabeth M. Hodge

by Steven W. Schmidt
Christina M. Tschida
Elizabeth M. Hodge

Research shows most teachers teach as they were taught.  However, distance educators lack a model or benchmark for online teaching because many of them have not taken online courses as students.  Indeed, many studies on teaching online point to the importance of training for online instructors.  Few studies go into specifics about exactly what that training should look like.  The purpose of this study is to examine best practices in professional development for instructors learning to teach online.

Exploring Faculty Preferences for Mode of Delivery for Professional Development Initiatives

Kenda S. Grover

Shelly Walters

Ronna C. Turner 

by Kenda S. Grover
Shelly Walters
Ronna C. Turner 

As online learning is becoming more deeply entrenched in higher education, many institutions are designing professional development activities aimed at helping faculty improve their online teaching. The focus of this descriptive study was on identifying the preferences faculty who teach online have regarding how they want to learn about new technology, how to complete tasks in the online environment, and strategies they can use to enhance instruction. Additionally, the study sought to gauge faculty members' interest in working with other faculty to investigate online teaching issues. Results from a survey instrument administered to faculty who teach online at an institution in the mid-south indicate that faculty members prefer one-on-one meetings with instructional design experts, online resources, and informal interaction with colleagues. The authors recommend including faculty members' input in the design of professional development initiatives.

From the Editor

Melanie ClayGreetings,

The blooming of cherry trees and near-perfect weather here in Georgia means we are busy getting ready for our summer conferences. Our newest conference, Meaningful Living in a Digital World, will be in fabulous Savannah, August 1-3. Though the call for proposals ends today, we can still accept a few more over the next week or so. I surely hope to see you in Savannah!

In this issue, there are at least two articles relevant to Meaningful Living in a Digital World. Vu, Friedrickson and Meyer detail a case study that provides enhanced student services through a virtual assistant. The comfort of students in communicating with the robot appears to be generally favorable, but perhaps worrisome is the finding that many students felt more comfortable with the virtual assistant than they did contacting the instructor. The authors contend that the virtual assistant "does not mean further isolating online learners," but this is clearly fodder for ongoing and fascinating discussions.

In contrast, two articles in this issue, confirm to various degrees, early research that shows faculty learn or prefer to learn about teaching online through informal, "hall-talk" conversations with colleagues, or one-on-one, personalized interaction. My own research 10 years ago led me to focus far less on group, classroom-based training in my own university, although this model still strongly survives in both face-to-face and online classrooms, as well at conferences and other training.

As administrators and faculty engaged in online learning, we can enjoy the success of dramatically increasing accessibility and affordability of education. But we must be ever mindful and open to dialogue about ways to maintain or increase both meaningful, personal interaction and a disconnect from technology in our age of round-the-clock connectivity.

Peace to All,

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.

To be notified of future publications contact the UWG Distance & Distributed Education Center

Last modified: March 15, 2016