Showing posts with label online professors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online professors. Show all posts

Thursday, March 19, 2015

8 Ways Online Education will Help Balance University Budgets

A sound college degree is expensive and the cost of managing universities is continuing to put pressure on stretched state budgets. Online education entered the market in the past few decades and is disrupting the traditional system. Despite this feather ruffling it also will bring a few new things that may help both universities and states become more cost effective.

The legal design of the institution (for or non-profit) is less important than the actual quality of education provided. To that end, traditional land based universities have come grudgingly to accept the merits of online education in both terms of cost and learning quality. Online education will change the cost structures of universities (Cowen & Tabarrok, 2014):

  1. Using the best professor and content creators to teach more students.
  2. Save time with less repetition and commuting costs.
  3. Flexibility in when and how lectures are viewed.
  4. Greater productivity improvements as software substitutes labor.
  5. Additional incentives to invest in quality as market increases.
  6. Stronger feedback through adaptive systems.
  7. Greater student measurements.
  8. Reduce cost and increase quality of higher education through enhancing productivity.

Online education is here to stay and will continue to grow and develop over the years. It will provide a number of benefits for universities whose administrative and cost burdens are high. By focusing on high quality online quality learning, universities will be able to find higher economies of scale and greater reach for their educational benefits.

Cowen, T. & Tabarrok, A. (2014). The industrial organization of online education. American Economic Review, 104 (5).

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Has the Internet Spawned a New Generation of Professors?

The Internet is rapidly changing the nature of professorship and offers a whole new academic lifestyle. With the growth in virtual education, and the slow but steady adoption of online coursework by "traditional" universities, the creation of a new type of professor becomes apparent. Virtual professors live in a world where multiple responsibilities are balanced by integrating technology into their lifestyles. The new age of technology has spawned a new type of professor.

To be a strong virtual professor requires high technology and high pedagogic knowledge of the subject matter (McAnally-Salas, Lavigne, & De Vega, 2010). Low technology skills and high pedagogic knowledge didn’t work well as professors couldn’t share or express their knowledge. Likewise, high technology and low pedagogic knowledge limited depth of explanation. Both technology and knowledge must blend together to create effectiveness. 

Online professors don’t have the same level of wiggle room than traditional professors and must navigate an environment that is more concise. As professor’s online knowledge increased it was found that they were more exact, shifted toward the Socratic Method, and created multilogues with students (Coppola, Hiltz, & Rotter, 2002). The very structure of online courses changed the core abilities and competencies of professors to be more finite.

Online professors are very good at task management as their work becomes integrated with their lifestyle. Some may be checking class postings on their cell phones while waiting at the grocery store and others could be sitting in a coffee shop spending an hour correcting papers. The life of an online professor affords more flexibility throughout the day but requires a higher level of self-motivation and commitment.

All of this integration between technology and life generally means a person could be working longer into the evening even though the intensity of that work may be less. With blurred home-work boundaries it may seem as though they are more likely to experience stress and burn out. According to a study of virtual academics online professors are less likely to get burned out than their traditional colleagues (McCann & Holt, 2009).

The nature of today's academic is changing with the times. Virtual professors will have more flexibility with their time as classes are 24/7 asynchronous but also must check into their classes on a regular basis. They will be conducting research at different times of the day and evening while still grading papers. The lifestyle of the new professor is one that requires a new way of looking at occupation and work. There is a blend of life and purpose other occupations may not offer and has spawned a whole new way of educating students. 

Coppola, N., Hiltz, S. & Rotter, N. (2002). Becoming a virtual professor: pedagogical roles and asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18 (4). 

McAnally-Salas, L., Lavigne, G. & De Vega, C. (2010). Online course instructional design from the professors’ pedagogic knowledge and technology skills. Problems of Education in the 21st Centure, 19.

McCann, J. & Holt, R. (2009). An exploration of burnout among online university professors. Journal of Distance Education, 23 (3).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

National Innovation Through Online Scholarship

Research is an important component of both online and ground based professorship. As matter of concern, trying to differentiate the two is dangerous as more universities move online and adjust the expectations of professors to fit online modalities. The institutions of higher learning have an important contribution to furthering knowledge through discovery and it makes no difference what modality they use. Removing this function can slow the pace of development for the nation by slowing new discoveries and innovation.

The nature of that scholarship may be a little different than that which we find in the laboratories of hard sciences. The far majority of new ideas and scholarship activities don’t require a formal laboratory setting and often can be conducted in virtual format. Modern technology allows for data collection, research, and scholarly writing on a new level. 

It could be argued that online tools could allow scholarship to flourish by connecting people, institutions and ideas to expand the body of knowledge. As more research moves online, and virtual libraries expand, information will move from theoretical conception to the practical output as decision-makers become more aware of existing discoveries.  Awareness and implementation in the private sector helps grow the nation.

It wasn’t that long ago that only printed forms of research were available and unless a person paid for, was a student, or otherwise provided with a library card to some a large university they would not be able to engage fully in scholarship. Small schools and adjunct faculty simply were not much part of the process. This appears to be changing as information becomes more available and consolidated in online libraries. 

Online scholarship can be theoretical or applied; perhaps a bit of both. On the theoretical side a mix of practical experience and scholarly writing can lead to new and profound discoveries. On the applied side those theoretical discoveries are implemented to create practical examples of the theory at work. Practical academics, or pracedemics, can do both research and practical implementation.  

Online education doesn’t need to damage, destroy, or negate the function of research in a professor’s life. As a practical matter online education can encourage higher forms of scholarship and at a faster pace than what was seen in the dusty halls of manual libraries by exchanging ideas and information for greater public consumption. The very function of research in today’s society can be enhanced by online education.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Best Online Practices for Professors and Students

Online education is a growing trend and will continue to grow as financial pressures weigh on the higher educational system and newer technology becomes available. Dr. Barr and Dr. Miller (2013) discuss the nature of online education, what makes it work, and the responsibilities of students. The study provides a stronger understanding of the framework for online education and how student learning is fostered through best practices.  Online education will continually adjust through its development process to market needs.

It is first beneficial to describe what distance learning is. According to Kearsley and Moore (2012) distance learning entails both geographic differences and interactions between students and teachers. It follows the same Socratic methods as face-to-face learning but relies on technology and virtual communication methods. Technology enhances the reciprocal nature of communication.

Online students are a little different than traditional students and have some additional skills. They are seen as more independent and technological savvy. The online learning style complements students’ independence of thought while the utilization of technology is no barrier to them. Some students use laptops, tablets, cell phones, and a variety of applications to gain their education and communicate with their classmates. 

Online classrooms and colleges are social networks and organizations would be wise to understand this concept. The learning process is fostered and strengthened when institutions encourage students to feel committed and satisfied with their experiences as well as be part of a community (Tinto, 1993). Relaying information is not enough as fostering a sense of community comes from connectedness, interdependence, socialization, and common goals (Rovai, 2002). 

Best practices are a methodology whereby those activities which are most effective are incorporated into the online classroom.  Institutions that continually seek to integrate best practices will find their learning platforms, operations, quality and outcomes become higher. The study helps highlight a few best practices in the online world.

Professor Practices: 

1.  Establish a nurturing and supportive environment that encourages learning.
2.  Communication between faculty and student.
3.   Cooperative learning activities that foster critical thinking.
4.   Provide experiential learning activities that activate different sections of the brain.
5.   Punctual feedback.
6.   High expectations.
7.   Culturally diverse classrooms.
8.   Provide catered feedback.
9.   Ensure students understand course policies and professor expectations.
10. Help students that need assistance.

Student Practices:

1. Don’t procrastinate.
2. Plan and organize work.
3. Set goals and manage time.
4. Practice strong study habits.
5. Keep up with assignments and postings.
6. Balance your other needs for rest, fitness, nutrition, and social interaction.
7. Participate in online discussions.
8. Communicate with professors.
9. Learn to type and write well.
10. Learn to take notes.

Barr, B. & Miller, S. (2013). Higher education: the online teaching and learning experience. UoP Dissertation.  EbscoHost (ED543912). 

Kearsley, G. & Moore, M. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Wadsworth Publishing Co., Belmont, Ca.

Rovai, A. P. (2002). Building sense of community at a distance. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from