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Passmore, Denise A.
A phenomenological study of nursing faculty's experiences in transitioning from a classroom to an online teaching role
h [electronic resource] /
by Denise A. Passmore.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 289 pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: As universities increasingly offer online nursing education, the transition that faculty members must make to their new instructional role is often overlooked. This phenomenological qualitative research involved the use of semi-structured interviews with 16 nursing faculty from four Florida public universities, who were asked to describe their experiences transitioning from classroom to online teaching. Interview questions focused on their prior assumptions about online education, their preparation for online teaching, their current teaching methods, and the identification of information they would recommend as vital for successful online teaching. Participants were voluntary and selected by both criterion and network sampling. Interviews were conducted in-person, audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed for recurring themes. Data were validated using member checks, peer reviews, and Atlas.TI software.Participants reported that teaching online was more difficult than expected. Most frequently mentioned issues were time and effort required to design and teach due to factors such as students' needs, class sizes, and designing learning activities. Faculty preparation varied among institutions, but regardless of training most reported the significance of mentors or colleagues as critical for success. While some faculty reported feeling disconnected from students, many reported having better relationships with online students than with their face-to-face counterparts. Over half the faculty discussed the importance of their role as becoming facilitators of learning. Results support the need for institutions to provide both an adequate technology infrastructure and sufficient faculty support. From this study faculty recommended that mentoring and collegiality are vital components of the faculty development process.Administrators need to address issues of time and effort, and faculty need to learn different ways to work that include team approaches and flexible scheduling. Suggestions for future research include identifying the degree to which these findings transfer to other disciplines. Identifying strategies for developing, sustaining, and implementing online mentoring programs for faculty, and information on sustaining better communication in the online environment. Finally, looking at cost-efficient models for delivering quality services is a factor often overlooked by administrators.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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Co-advisor: James Eison, Ph.D.
Co-advisor: William Young, Ed.D
x Higher Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
A Phenomenological Study of Nursing Faculty Â’s Experiences in Transitioning from a Classroom to an Online Teaching Role by Denise A. Passmore A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Adult, Career, and Higher Education College of Education University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: James Eison, Ph.D. Co-Major Professor: William Young, Ed.D Deoksoon Kim, Ph.D. Mary Webb, Ph.D. Date of Approval October 22, 2009 Keywords: transformative learning, facilitato r, mentoring, faculty development, nursing education Copyright 2009, Denise Passmore
DEDICATION To my parents, George and Betty Passmore for supporting me through all my travels, especially this one.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, my gratitude is to my co-chairs Dr. Jim Eison and Dr. Bill Young for listening to, commenting on, and throwi ng out lots of ideas before one finally stuck. Dr. Mary Webb, who is also a colleague has given me support and advice when I needed it most. A special thanks is due to Dr. Deoksoon Kim, whose encouragement and willingness to step in at the end was invalu able. I also want to thank Dr. Waynne James and Dr. Jeff Kromrey w ho got it all started. Beyond my committee, I want to especia lly thank Dean Patrica Burns and Anne Phillips for their support of me in this endeavor. All my friends and colleagues have shown understanding and concern, even when I abandoned them to finish this project specifically Rhonda Prince, Jeff Hall, and Glor ia Jasperse. Additionally, Dr. Pat Maher, who started this endeavor with me many y ears ago and has conti nued to provide me guidance and late night phone support has earned my deepest gratitude. I also want to thank my reviewers for taking time to assist. And of course I want to thank my parents who read my drafts, listened to my whining, and even picked up my dry cleaning so that I could pursue this dream. Finally, I want to thank the 16 men and women who volunteered to be a part of this study. Their time and dedication to their profession was an inspiration, and I am forever honored that they took time out of thei r schedules to help me and to further the knowledge of the field of online nursing education.
i TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. viABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... viiCHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 1Statement of the Problem .............................................................................................. 1Purpose ....................................................................................................................... ... 7Research Questions ....................................................................................................... 8Theoretical Framework ................................................................................................. 9Significance of the Study ............................................................................................ 10Delimitations ............................................................................................................... 1 0Limitations .................................................................................................................. 11About the Researcher ............................................................................................ 11Definitions................................................................................................................... 12Organization of Remaining Chapters .......................................................................... 13CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ..................................................................... 14Online Education ........................................................................................................ 14Online Nursing Education ........................................................................................... 23Traditional Role and Responsib ilities of FacultyMembers ........................................ 33Traditional Role and Responsibil ities of Nursing Educators ...................................... 37Role of Faculty in Online Education .......................................................................... 40Transformative Learning ............................................................................................ 49Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 5 4
ii CHAPTER 3 METHODS ................................................................................................. 56Research Questions ..................................................................................................... 56Research Design .......................................................................................................... 57Sample Selection ......................................................................................................... 58Data Collection ........................................................................................................... 60Pilot Study ............................................................................................................. 62Description of Data Collection ............................................................................. 63External Validity ......................................................................................................... 69Internal Validity .......................................................................................................... 69Dependability .............................................................................................................. 70CHAPTER 4 DESCRIPTION OF THEMES ................................................................... 72Research Questions ..................................................................................................... 72Participants .................................................................................................................. 73Description of Themes ................................................................................................ 79Major Theme One: Faculty Development and Support ........................................ 83Preparing Faculty to Teach Online ................................................................. 84Institutional Support and Resources ............................................................... 93Faculty Collaboration ...................................................................................... 99Summary of Faculty Development and Support ........................................... 102Major Theme Two: Faculty Issues and Concerns ............................................... 103Time and Effort to Teach Online .................................................................. 103Types of Content Taught Online ................................................................... 111Student Evaluation of Teaching .................................................................... 113Effectiveness of Online Education ................................................................ 116Summary of Faculty Issues and Concerns .................................................... 117Major Theme Three: Communication in the Online Environment ..................... 119Online Relationships ..................................................................................... 119Assessing Student Understanding ................................................................. 126Communicating Effectively in the Online Environment .............................. 129
iii Summary of Communicating in the Online Environment ............................ 132Major Theme Four: Teaching in the Online Environment ................................. 132Online Teaching Methods ............................................................................. 133Faculty as Facilitators of Learning ............................................................... 142Summary of Teaching in th e Online Environment ....................................... 145Major Theme 5: Advantages of Online Education ............................................. 149Increased Student Participation ..................................................................... 150Schedule Flexibility ...................................................................................... 154Other Miscellaneous Advantages ................................................................. 157Summary of Advantages to Online Education .............................................. 159Major Theme Six: Students in the Online Environment ..................................... 159Attributes of Online Students ........................................................................ 160Student Learning Styles ................................................................................ 165Student Cheating ........................................................................................... 166Summary of Students in th e Online Environment ........................................ 167Summary ................................................................................................................... 168Peer Review of Data ................................................................................................. 171CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION, CONC LUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................................................................ 174Research Questions ................................................................................................... 174Discussion ................................................................................................................. 17 6Major Theme One: Faculty Development and Support ...................................... 176Major Theme Two: Faculty Issues and Concerns ............................................... 180Major Theme Three: Communication in the Online Environment ..................... 185Major Theme Four: Teaching in the Online Environment ................................. 188Major Theme Five: Advantages of Online Education ........................................ 191Major Theme Six: Students in the Online Environment ..................................... 193Summary ............................................................................................................. 196Conclusions and Implications for Practice ............................................................... 203
iv Research Question 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty in transitioning from live face-to-face classroom to online teaching? .................... 203Lindsey .......................................................................................................... 204Shelby ........................................................................................................... 211Corey ............................................................................................................. 213Christian ........................................................................................................ 215Research Question 2. What assumpti ons did nursing faculty members hold about the role of faculty in online edu cation prior to their initial experience in online teaching? .............................................................................................. 217Research Question 3. What experien ces related to online teaching may have challenged nursing facultyÂ’s per ceptions of the role of faculty? ................ 222Research Question 4. To what degree did institutional support and infrastructure impact faculty experiences? ......................................................... 229Research Question 5. Based on the fram ework of transformative learning, what evidence of transformation can be identified through an analysis of the experiences describe d by nursing faculty? .................................................... 238Discussion of Research Questions ................................................................ 246Implications for Practice ..................................................................................... 251Faculty Development Recommendations ..................................................... 251Administrative Recommendations ................................................................ 256Faculty Recommendations ............................................................................ 258Discussion ............................................................................................... 261Recommendations for Further Research ................................................................... 262REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 265APPENDICES ................................................................................................................ 278Appendix A Interview Protocol ................................................................................ 279Appendix B Informed Consent ................................................................................. 281Appendix C Contact Summary Sheet ....................................................................... 287
v Appendix D Recruitment Email ................................................................................ 288 ABOUT THE AUTHOR End Page
vi LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Number of Participants from each Site ............................................................... 74Table 2: Participant Description ....................................................................................... 77Table 3: List of Themes and Frequencies ......................................................................... 81Table 4: Online Teaching Methods ................................................................................. 146Table 5: Peer Reviewer Confirmation of Themes .......................................................... 172Table 6: List of Themes and Citations ............................................................................ 197
vii A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF NURS ING FACULTYÂ’S EXPERIENCES IN TRANSITIONING FROM A CLASSROO M TO AN ONLINE TEACHING ROLE DENISE PASSMORE ABSTRACT As universities increasingly offer onlin e nursing education, the transition that faculty members must make to their new in structional role is often overlooked. This phenomenological qualitative research involved the use of semi-structured interviews with 16 nursing faculty from four Florida public universities, who were asked to describe their experiences transitioning from classr oom to online teaching. Interview questions focused on their prior assumptions about on line education, their pr eparation for online teaching, their current teaching methods, and th e identification of information they would recommend as vital for successful online teaching. Participants were voluntary and selected by both criterion and network samp ling. Interviews were conducted in-person, audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed for recurring themes. Data were validated using member checks, peer reviews, and Atlas.TI software. Participants reported that teaching online was more difficult than expected. Most frequently mentioned issues were time and effort required to design and teach due to factors such as studentsÂ’ needs, class si zes, and designing learning activities. Faculty preparation varied among inst itutions, but regardless of training most reported the significance of mentors or coll eagues as critical for success. While some faculty reported
viii feeling disconnected from stude nts, many reported having bette r relationships with online students than with their face-to-face counterpa rts. Over half the faculty discussed the importance of their role as b ecoming facilitators of learning. Results support the need fo r institutions to provide both an adequate technology infrastructure and sufficient faculty support. From this study faculty recommended that mentoring and collegiality are vital compone nts of the faculty development process. Administrators need to address issues of time and effort, and faculty need to learn different ways to work that include t eam approaches and flexible scheduling. Suggestions for future research includ e identifying the degree to which these findings transfer to other di sciplines. Identifying strategi es for developing, sustaining, and implementing online mentoring programs for faculty, and information on sustaining better communication in the onlin e environment. Finally, looki ng at cost-efficient models for delivering quality services is a fa ctor often overlooked by administrators.
1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Statement of the Problem The growth of online nursing educati on has provided a number of opportunities for students and faculty members alike. As demand for more online classes increase, the need to ensure that online education is at least as effective as education delivered by Â“liveÂ” classes also becomes an issue. Theref ore, it is imperative that faculty members who are moving to this teaching venue are aware of the inherent challenges and the needs that should be addressed to ensure quali ty of learning and a dherence to accreditation standards. Teaching online requires an inte grated knowledge of content, technology, and pedagogy beyond that expected of faculty memb ers who teach only live classes (Koehler & Mishra, 2005). Koehler and Mishra conte nd that withou t understanding how these factors can effectively integrate, online inst ruction is less effective than it might otherwise be if all factors are integrated. The literature has shown that most f aculty members do not receive significant preparation when transitioning to the online venue and, therefore, must rely instead on their education and experience as classroom teachers to develop and implement online learning experiences (Johnson, 2008). Facu lty members also reported feeling inadequately prepared for the transition from the role of experienced classroom teacher to novice online teacher (Johnson, 2005). In a study by Salinas (2008), faculty members were not able to relate modern pedagogical principles to instructional technology which
2 indicates that they were not familiar with all the options available through technology. Despite a lack of preparati on and support, online faculty members are responsible for teaching the same course content, including higher order thinking skills, expected in traditional classroom experiences. Faculty me mbers at Mississippi State University expressed reservations about pr esentation of online content, addressing not only their lack of preparation for this venue but also a fear that they would be required to teach online courses in areas that are not appropria te for online delivery (Gammill, 2004). According to the Sloan Consortium (Sloan -C), faculty membersÂ’ satisfaction is one of the key elements of an effective online program (Sloan-C, n.d.). Instructors are satisfied with the online teaching experience if they find it personally and professionally beneficial. Institutional supports such as in frastructure, training, technical support and recognition are important to their satisfac tion. Faculty members who teach primarily online want to ensure that they are incl uded in governance and other school-related issues. Satisfaction increases when admini stration acknowledges and places value on the extra effort required in teach ing online and, further, comm its to studying and enhancing the online faculty membersÂ’ experience. Sloan-CÂ’s research emphasizes the need for online faculty members, despite differences in roles, to experience the same opportunities for research, promotion, and reward as f aculty members who teach live classes. The introduction of online education is altering how faculty members perform their traditional roles, whic h are identified as Â“teachi ng,Â” Â“research,Â” and Â“serviceÂ” (Hartman, Dziuban, & Brophy-Ellison, 2007). Addr essing the instructional design issues inherent in online course development may decrease the amount of time faculty members
3 have to devote to research and publicati on and my put them at risk when seeking promotion and/or tenure (Crawford & Gannon-Cook, 2002; Hartman et al., 2007; Passmore, 2000). Hopewell (2007) reports th at, while academic expectations remain constant, faculty members who teach online must manage their professional and personal lives within a new context. According to Hopewell, faculty members not only expressed having less time for research but also belie ved that, because they taught online, their schedules were perceived as being more flex ible, and they were expected to volunteer more frequently for service activities than we re their colleagues who taught face-to-face. In one national survey of nursing faculty members who taught at American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) accredited sc hools, 80% of respondents reported that the time to develop the online course was significan tly more than that required to develop a comparable face-to-face class (Christianson, Tiene, & Luft, 2002). Though most of the faculty members (87%) reported being satisfied with the experience of teaching online, they still rated their lack of time to deve lop the course as one of the low points. Online faculty members are expected to te ach in ways that ar e different from how they were taught as students. In a study of faculty roles in online teaching, Conceicao (2006) identified faculty membersÂ’ genera l concern with distance education and the specific need to rethink their role by c onstructing a new instructional paradigm. For example, acquiring knowledge becomes more of a shared activity and information transmission is no longer one-way, as faculty members and students share the responsibility for teaching and learning in online communities. According to Salinas (2008), to utilize technology effectively in ed ucation there needs to be a shift from
4 lecture-based to learner-centered mastery in struction that gives more control to the student. In one study of nursing faculty members, 95% believed they needed to learn new pedagogies, 91% felt they had to learn a new role and 85% said that the instructorÂ’s role \changed from authority figure to facilita tor (Ryan, Hodson-Carlton, & Ali, 2005). In BiroÂ’s (2005) study of online facu lty, participants described th eir role as Â“facilitators,Â” rather than Â“lecturersÂ” and consequently st ruggled to interact with students in this medium. Faculty members who could not adap t to the facilitator role struggled to communicate with online students and were unabl e to plan teaching methods that created interaction with their students. With online teaching, the solitary act of t eaching is replaced with interdependency among other institutional agencies such as technical support, facu lty developers, and instructional designers. Diekelmann, Sc huster, and Nosek (1998) refer to decentralizing teacher control as new types of relationships with students are developed and as faculty members collaborate with other faculty memb ers, technical support, and instructional designers in the development and delivery of online courses. Johnson (2008) reports that, in addition to faculty partnerships and collabo ration, Â“three experts we re seen as essential to the [online course development] team: a content expert (the faculty member), a webbased pedagogy expert, and a technology expe rtÂ” (p. 21). The traditional model of faceto-face teaching is largely a so litary task (Twigg, 2003). Twigg reports that institutions continue this tradition when developing on line programs results in increased workloads for faculty members. For example, studies by Twigg revealed that the majority of communications from students were not about co urse content and that technical staff or
5 assistants could address most of the questions. Faculty members, according to Twigg, need to look at new models of educati ng students by building on the growing knowledge about best practices in on line course development. Faculty members at the University of Wi sconsin expressed the need to learn new communication methods and adjust to time fram es different from those with which they typically work. Physical presen ce Â– or lack of physical pr esence Â– concerns many faculty members, as they are no longer able to see signs of student confusion when presenting course material; consequentl y, the traditional student-teacher relationship is changed (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Courses, according to the surveyed faculty members, must be prepared early and updated regularly, reflect ing new information and new technologies (Ryan et al., 2005). Faculty members who are considered experts in their fields may discover that they are novices in technology compared to their students and that the traditional teacher-student relationship has ch anged (Diekelmann et al., 1998; Hartman et al., 2007). Students have expectations th at are different from thos e of previous generations. They expect to communicate continuously with faculty member s through electronic resources, and they expect faculty members to provide interactive learning experiences utilizing the latest technologi es, consequently, faculty member s are required to alter the ways these technologies are used for t eaching and communicating with students (Hartman et al., 2007). However, according to Salinas (2008), most faculty members are not being educated to meet these expectations and this requires a change in how future faculty members are prepared.
6 A study of nursing faculty members identifie d the challenge in adopting new roles in online education Â– particularly the change from authority figure to facilitator of learning (Ryan, Carlton, & Ali, 2004; Ry an et al., 2005). In JohnsonÂ’s 2008 study, graduate nursing faculty members reported need ing to rethink their teaching and learning philosophies in order to make the adju stment to online teaching. JohnsonÂ’s (2005) previous study of graduate nursing faculty w ho taught online revealed that online faculty members identified themselves primarily as facilitators and reported feeling less responsible for delivery of content than when teaching face-to-face. Frese (2006) stated that successful onlin e learning has less to do with the technology and more to do with faculty memb ersÂ’ utilization of technology to teach online; however, the transition to online instru ction is not intuitive, and it is important that faculty members learn from the experien ces of others who have made the transition. In a survey of nursing faculty members, Ch ristianson, et al. (2002) reported that 69% stated that their role was now more collaborati ve and that they referred to themselves as guides or coaches rather than teachers. Some faculty members have reported losing their identity as teachers as they struggle to cope with the demands, new pedagogies, and use of technology required in online education (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Passmore (2000) reports that faculty members may feel unc omfortable using technology to teach online and that they may be concerned that their sc holarly instructional work is on the web for public access. While the literature has s hown that faculty members are not always adequately prepared for the differences in online teachi ng, there is very little research identifying
7 how faculty members experience the change from their familiar role as classroom teacher to online facilitator of learning. Passmore (2000) states th at most of the literature about delivery of Web instruction is related to technology and inst ructional design; pedagogical concerns and important faculty issues are not as well researched. Most faculty members did not expect technology to be central to their teaching expe riences, when preparing for careers in higher education (Hartman et al., 2007; Passmore, 2000). Many university faculty members learned how to teach thr ough observation and imitation, perfecting their skills through feedback and trial-and-error (Passmore, 2000). In a study of nursing and other applied sciences, faculty members Ali, Hodson-Carlton et al. (2005) reported that redefining faculty roles in online teaching wa s rated as the highest priority. These new roles included learning about technology, online pedagogy, support systems, and creating new partnerships with colleagues, instructi onal designers, and support staff. Additionally, it is important that faculty members have opportunities to do research on their experiences with online edu cation (Ali, Hodson-Carlton et al., 2005). Crawford and Gannon-Cook (2002) recommend that more research is needed to id entify the specific types of motivation required to increase f aculty membersÂ’ willi ngness to teach online. Without an adequate understa nding of the role of the on line educator, nursing faculty members who transition to online teaching ar e too often ill-prepared for the experience. This insufficient preparation could ad versely impact student outcomes. Purpose The purpose of this study was to apply phenomenological research strategies in the examination of experiences of nursing faculty members who transitioned from face-
8 to-face classroom to online teaching and to analyze their reported experiences for evidence of transformative learning. The inten tion was to develop a rich, thick portrait of the participantsÂ’ experiences to gain greater insight into how faculty members perceive their role in the online environment and to determine whether there were significant differences from their role as classroom t eachers. For purposes of this study, Â“online nursing faculty membersÂ” refers to full or part-time faculty members in a universitybased nursing program who having begun their career in classroom teaching and have taught online for at least one year. Research Questions The following research questions provided the guiding framework for this study: 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty members in transitioning from live faceto-face classroom teaching to online teaching? 2. What assumptions did nursing faculty me mbers hold about the role of faculty members in online education prior to thei r initial experience in online teaching? 3. What experiences related to online teach ing may have challenged nursing faculty membersÂ’ perceptions of the role of faculty? 4. To what degree did instituti onal support and infrastructure impact faculty membersÂ’ experiences? 5. Based on the framework of transformative learning, what evidence of transformation can be identified through an analysis of the experiences described by nursing faculty members?
9 Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework for this study was transformative learning. The research will address faculty membersÂ’ assumptions regarding online teaching and whether their experiences led to the construction of new beliefs and understanding. This study, through the means of reflective di scourse, looked at th e experiences of transitioning to an online teaching venue to discover whether transformative learning occurred. Drawing from the work of Mezi row (1991), transformative learning occurs when adults experience a disorienting dilemm a, such as the move from live to online teaching. AdultsÂ’ frame of reference for interp retation of their experi ences is defined by Mezirow as Â“meaning perspectives.Â” All le arning is filtered through these meaning perspectives, which include our prejudices and misconceptions or lack of knowledge about a particular subject. The thr ee types of meaning perspectives are epistemic (our actual knowledge), s ociolinguistic (language and culture), and psychological (selfconcept) (Cranton, 1994). Most people, states Cranton, have not examined their belief systems and even fewer look at all the meani ng perspectives that form their beliefs. In this study, faculty members reflected on their ex periences in transitioni ng to the role of online instructor. Faculty membersÂ’ knowledge of teaching and their perceptions of their role as teachers from a traditional cultural perspective were examined to identify whether their self-concept has been altered in the tr ansition to online facilitator of learning. Mezirow states that only th rough critical reflec tion of previously held beliefs and assumptions will adults go through the proce ss of building new roles and acquiring new skills that integrate into the individualÂ’s life as it was prior to th e disorienting dilemma.
10 Memory is key to the reflective process. Remembering is impacted by how well the new experience fits into an indivi dualÂ’s meaning perspectives or whether the memory of the experience evokes anxiety. If the experience e vokes anxiety, memories may be distorted and more difficult to assimilate. Reflective di scourse can enable adul ts in the process of integrating new information and cr eating new meaning perspectives. Significance of the Study Despite the plethora of l iterature about teaching onlin e in nursing education, there is little research on the cha nging role of faculty, particul arly nursing faculty, and the transformation from the faceto-face classroom to online educators. This study provides rich qualitative data identifying the needs and challenges of transitioning nursing faculty. The findings, it is hoped, will prompt instituti ons to better prepare faculty members and to create a model for faculty member de velopment that can be implemented and researched. Better preparation and institutiona l support will result in improvements in the quality of online education and greater sati sfaction among faculty members and students. The degree to which institutional support a nd infrastructure impact faculty membersÂ’ experiences was studied by inclusion of partic ipants from nursing programs at four large public universities. Delimitations This study included faculty members who t each in baccalaureate or graduate level nursing programs. Although associate degree prog rams incorporate some online classes, most of these programs are not available entir ely online; therefore, these programs were not included in this study. This study included only nursing faculty members who
11 originally began their teaching careers in liv e classroom situations and who have taught online for at least one year. Since the data was collected in one-on-one live interviews, this study, as a matter of convenience, only looked at universities that offer online courses and/or programs and that are located within the limited and accessible geographic region of Florida (Creswell, 1998). Limitations Transcribed interviews were the primary s ource of data for this research. Recall of past events as well as re-inter pretation or distortion due to subsequent experiences can be a limitation to the accuracy of the interviews and the quality of the data. Because the process of one-on-one interviewing is tim e consuming, the number of participants included in this study, as well as the geographi c restrictions, narrowed the focus of this research. About the Researcher The researcher for this study has been an instructional designer and non-nursing faculty for the University South Florida Â– College of Nursing for over five years. Additionally, she has taught courses and conducted workshops online for both faculty members and students. The researcherÂ’s re sponsibilities have included not only instructional design of online classes, but also faculty training and preparation to teach online, support of faculty members and stude nts, and evaluation of online teaching. Prior to working at the college of nursing, the resear cher worked as an instructional designer in a corporate setting. Her experiences and backgr ound directly relate to the topic of this study, and this could create bias. Additionall y, some potential participants may know, or
12 know of, the researcher, since she is doing rese arch within the state university system in which she also is currently employed. Definitions To clarify how specific terms are used in this study, the following definitions are provided. Distance Learning: Any type of instruction deli vered from a distance and can include videos, teleconference courses, and on line instruction. For pur poses of this study, distance learning will refer to online and Web-based learning, which is identified as any course that is delivered at least 75% of the time via the Internet. The terms mentioned here are used interchangeab ly throughout this study. Hybrid or Blended Classes: Classes in which part of the content is presented online and part in a live f ace-to-face classroom setting. Live Classes: Traditional face-to-face classes in which all of the course content is presented in a classroom setting. Nursing Faculty: For purposes of this study, nursing faculty refers to faculty members who are registered nurses and teach ei ther fullor part-time in a baccalaureate or graduate nursing program. RN-to-Baccalaureate (RN-to-BS) Programs: Programs that enable registered nurses with associate (two-year) or diplom a (three-year) degree s to obtain their baccalaureate degree. These programs differ from traditional baccalaureate programs in that students already have an RN license and most have experience working in clinical situations.
13 Transformative Learning : An adult learning theor y, associated with Jack Mezirow, purporting that a dults learn new meanings th rough reflection and discourse after their basic assumptions are ch allenged by a disorienting dilemma. Web-enhanced Classes: Traditional face-to-face classe s in which the majority of content is presented in a live classroom se tting and is supplemented by online material. Organization of Remaining Chapters This chapter includes an overview of the research problem and a statement of the purpose of this study. Specific research questio ns were listed addressing the qualitative framework. Questions were followed by de limitations and limitations of the study. Definitions of some of the terminology used in this study were provided to readers. Chapter 2 provides a literature review be ginning with an overview of web-based education. This section is followed by a look at Web-based education as it relates to nursing. After reviewing online education, there is a review of the literature describing the role of faculty members, which includes traditional faculty, nursing faculty, and online faculty. Finally, a sect ion introducing transforma tive learning is provided. Chapter 3 provides a description of th e methods to be used in this study. A specific description of the populatio n of interest is identified, as is the anticipated sample size. A description of phenome nological research methods is included as well, along with a description of the da ta analysis procedures that were employed. Chapter 4 presents an analysis and description of the qualitative data. Chapter 5 features a discussion of the results, as well as recommendations for future research.
14 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE The purpose of this study was to apply phenomenological research strategies to examine the experiences of nursing faculty members who transitioned from a face-to-face classroom setting to online teaching and to analyze the reported experiences for evidence of transformative learning. The intention was to develop a rich, th ick portrait of the participantsÂ’ experiences in or der to gain insight into how faculty members perceive their role in the online environment and to de termine whether there were significant differences from their role as classroom t eachers. For purposes of this study, Â“online nursing faculty memberÂ” refers to a member of any level of faculty in a university-based nursing program who, having begun his or her career in classroom teaching, has taught online for at least one year. The review of literature will provide an overview of online education with a specific look at online nursing education. F aculty roles will be re viewed starting with those within the traditional higher educati on models, including nursing faculty, and the impact of online education on faculty roles is discussed. Th is section concludes with a review of the transformational learning model that informs th e analysis of the research questions. Online Education The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), a na tional consortium of organizations and institutions committed to online learning, defi nes online courses as Â“any course where at
15 least 80% of the content is delivered onlineÂ” (Allen & Seam an, 2006). Live courses have no more than 30% of their content online, and courses that fall in between those two percentages (30% -80% ) are referred to as hybrid or blended The Florida Board of Governors, that oversees the operations of the state university system, identifies asynchronous courses as Â“instruction that is time and space independent 75% or more of the time.Â” This definition encompasses We b-delivered content (Florida Board of Governors, 2007). Online education has broadened educatio nal opportunities for many students since its start, which is identified as being some time in the 1990Â’s (Chao, Saj, & Tessler, 2006). The United States Department of Education reported in 2003 that more than 56% of all post-secondary institutions, pub lic and private, offered onlin e courses (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2003). The greatest numbers of students were enrolled in two-year institutions, but 89% of all public universities and colleges had some online offerings. The Council for Higher Education Ac creditation (2002) states that of 5,655 accredited institutions, 1,979 offer distance education programs. In a 2006 study of 2,200 institutions Sloa n-C reported that 3.2 million students were enrolled in at least one online class (Allen & Seama n, 2006). As identified above, the majority of these were undergraduat e students attending community colleges; however, the proportion of online graduate students was greater than that of online undergraduates. Ninety-six perc ent of institutions with en rollments of mo re than 15,000 had some online course offerings. This was twice the number of smaller institutions.
16 To continue making inroads in online e ducation, academic administrators must believe that it is critical for the long-term success of the institu tion to do so (Allen & Seaman, 2006). When asked in 2006 to iden tify online educationÂ’s importance to their institutions, 58% of administrato rs agreed that it was very important. This represented an increase from 2003. Also reported, 72% believed that online educati on serves students who might otherwise not be served by traditional programs (Allen & Seaman). In Sloan-CÂ’s 2006 report on the state of online education, 62% of chief academic officers believed that online education wa s as good as, or better than, live offerings (Allen & Seaman, 2006). However, these same academic officers did believe that online classes require more student discipline and are more difficult and expensive to deliver than live courses. They belie ve that most faculty member s have not yet accepted the potential value of online education; however, only 13% believe that employers might be suspect of the quality of online programs a nd, therefore, might not be willing to hire individuals with online degr ees. Institutions not planni ng on offering online programs gave as the most frequent reason (44%) that distance education did not fit within the mission of the school, with startup cost follo wing as the second most frequently listed reason (33%) (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2003). The quality of online educa tion is often questioned, and th e ability to validate that outcomes are similar to those of live progr ams is paramount. Without adherence to quality, online education programs cannot succ essfully compete with traditional classes (Chao et al., 2006). In a survey of managers (n=101), only 41% reported that they would give equal consideration to students with on line degrees, and 58% st ated that while an
17 online degree was acceptable, it was not as credible as a degree obtained through traditional means. Passmore (2000) shares a common concern that many online courses are little more than Â“shovelware,Â” incorpora ting a syllabus, old notes from live classes, a few visuals, and some URLs. Learners n eed active learning with opportunities for feedback in order to increase their understa nding to ensure their online experience is equivalent to that obtained in face-to-face classes. According to Chao et al. (2006), a meta-a nalysis of the literature relating to online quality standards revealed the following criter ia as most important in evaluating online course quality: Â“Institutional support; Cour se development and instructional design; Teaching and learning; Course structure and resources; Student and faculty support; Evaluation and assessment; Use of technology; and e-learning products and servicesÂ” (p. 33). Regular and consistent review of course quality should be undertaken by an interdisciplinary team (instructors, web de signers, and instructional designers). The quality review is also an important part of the course development process, which may include providing faculty member s and course developers with a checklist of standards to be evaluated. Though many institutions and organizations develop their own standards based on the literature, there are several na tionally recognized rubrics that provide a framework for evaluation of individu al courses or entire programs. Sloan-C identifies Â“five pillarsÂ” that are necessary for a quality online program (Lorenzo & Moore, 2002). The fi rst pillar is learning effectiv eness. This includes factors such as active learning and higher order thinking. Without evidence of learning effectiveness, distance educa tion cannot be considered comp arable to live education.
18 Pillar two, student satisfaction, recommends that institutions investigate whether students feel their learning needs have been met by online courses and whether they would enroll in another such class. Support services and a high level of interacti on are usually factors that enhance student satisfaction. The third pillar addresses facu lty satisfaction. Though many faculty members report increased sati sfaction with flexib ility and student interactions, they often need recognition and assurance that their efforts are valued. The fourth pillar focuses on the need to ensure th at distance education is cost effective. The fifth pillar is access. Students need to be ab le to access the online programs regardless of location or variations in available technology. Access requires universities to ensure that their technical infrastructures are reliable and accessible by potential students. According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (2002) the nine national and eight regional acc rediting organizations use a platform of standards to review the quality of distance educat ion programs. Though the nine national organizations all utilize varying standards, there are seven key areas common to all: institutional mission; institutional organiza tional structure; institutional resources; curriculum and instruction; faculty support; student s upport; and student learning outcomes. Accreditors identify three ma jor challenges when evaluating distance education programs: alternative design of in struction, alternative providers of higher education, and expanded focus on training. Â“Alter native design of instructionÂ” relies on the institutionÂ’s ability to provide resources including instructi onal design specialists. Â“Alternative providers of higher educationÂ” refers to new ins titutions that may deliver all education online; accreditors compare these institutions to existing brick-and-mortar
19 institutions by scrutinizing their ability to provide comparable services. Finally, accreditors look at Â“expanded trainingÂ” which need s to be in place in order to prepare and support faculty members and students embarking on distance education. Battin-Little (2007) evaluated standards th at addressed individual courses rather than entire programs. These standards are im portant for program consistency and quality, as they ensure the effectiv eness of each course. Battin-LittleÂ’s study reviewed online nursing courses utilizing two sta ndards, or rubrics, for cour se evaluation based on current research. One set of standards was produced internally, and the other was a nationally recognized standard known as Quality Ma tters. Quality Matters was developed by Maryland Online, a consortium of universities and colleges in the st ate of Maryland, as a faculty peer-review rubric. Results of th e study showed that the Quality MattersÂ’ standards were easier to follow than the inte rnally-developed standards and results of the course review were more consistent between multiple reviewers. Battin-Little recommended utilizing the national standard s and training faculty members to do peer reviews, which, in turn, would aid faculty in the development of their own courses. Though there is general agreement that standards for courses and programs are important for ensuring quality, there has b een little actual research reporting on the effectiveness of utilizing standards. Diet z-Uhler, Fisher, and Han (2008) introduced online standards to improve the quality of th eir courses, and at the end of six months student retention rates imp roved by 11% in the classes where standards were incorporated. Success was attributed to the f act that standards ensu red that policies and
20 expectations were clearly stated and stude nts were provided with rich interactive experiences. Quality and cost effectiveness were addressed in a course redesign project initiated in 1999 and supported by the Pew Char itable Trust. In the project, 30 colleges and universities went through the process of redesigning and evaluating their online learning programs (Twigg, 2003). Based on ev aluation of student assessment and outcomes, results as of 2003 showed increases in student learning at 20 of the institutions that instituted the program; the remaining in stitutions showed no significant difference. Additionally, schools showed impr oved retention and student satisfaction, better student attitudes, and cost savings averaging 40%. Though the types of schools ranged from research universities to community colleges, and the projects encompassed entire programs as well as supplemental online offerings, Twigg reported six characteristics sh ared by each of the institutions. The first characteristic was whole course redesign Participants looked at redesigning the entire course rather than just a portion, even if the course was not online in its entirety. The redesign included an analysis of activities by each of the team members involved in the effort. This exercise enabled the schools to streamline work efforts and to avoid duplication. Active learning was the second characteristic identified. All courses worked to replace lectures with activities that engaged students in the coursework. Computerbased learning resources characteristic number three, enabled students to practice and receive immediate feedback for their efforts. The fourth characteristic, mastery learning allowed pacing for students based on masteri ng objectives in a progressive manner. On-
21 demand help provided support for, and increased a feeling of community among, students. Alternate staffing was the final characteristic id entified by Twigg. Analysis of student needs indicated that hi ghly trained professional staff, such as faculty members, are not necessary to meet many of the stude ntsÂ’ needs. The use of support staff and teaching assistants minimized the time f aculty members had to spend in answering questions. With the increasing population of colle ge-age students, plus the number of nontraditional-age students returning to school combined with declining tax revenues, Meyer (2008) predicts that universities will turn to the cost-efficiencies of online education. However, transforming the curri culum to be more cost-efficient while continuing to provide acceptable student outcome s can take time and resources as well as a willingness by institutions and faculty me mbers to embrace new methods and means of delivering education. According to Meyer, in vesting the time and resources could result in greater access to higher education as well as increased revenues for colleges and universities. To identify processes to ensure that on line programs are financially sustainable, Meyer, Bruwelheide, and Poulin (2007) i nvestigated the practic es of nine project directors who had received gran ts to create higher educati on online programs. Despite the diversity of the projects, ther e were several overarching princi ples that were utilized by each of the project directors. Knowing the market was identified as the most important principle by all the directors. Advisory boa rds with content expertise can assist in providing this information. The next step involves identifying the anticipated costs of the
22 online program before setting the price. The pr ogram needs a sound marketing plan, including a web identity, in order to recruit students. Hiring faculty members who have a genuine interest in online teaching is a crucial principal in program sustainability. Ongoing training in technol ogy as well as pedagogy needs to be in place, as well as mentoring and assessment, to improve student outcomes. Measures need to be enacted to enhance retention. These measures should include a good technological infrastructure that creates community among dist ance education students. Finally, ongoing program evaluation and improvements need to be a part of the process to ensure quality. Meyer, Bruwelheide, and Poulin caution that thes e principles are evolving as changes in technology, costs, and knowledge evolve. Despite predictions that online educati on might enable students to have better choices when identifying where to study, stude nts often choose online education because it is seen as a less expensive, easier op tion (Schwarzman, 2007). For example, many students who enrolled in an undergraduate oral communications class did so because they did not believe that there w ould be actual public speaking assignments associated with the experience. However, once enrolled, stude nts discovered that re quirements were the same as those for the live class; the only difference was that proj ects were presented online instead of live. In another example, though there is a pl ethora of quality information available through online databases such as EBSCO, students still frequently turn to Google or other popular search e ngines that do not provid e quality control of content. This indicates that as students become more experienced with technology, they are still unsophisticated users of that technology (Schwarzman).
23 Demand for online education is not likely to abate in the foreseeable future (Crawford & Gannon-Cook, 2002). The number of students and institutions who participate is growing yearly. As institutions develop online programs, it is important that they address issues of quality and cost effec tiveness. Quality standards such as Sloan-CÂ’s Five Pillars, or Maryland On lineÂ’s Quality Matters have the potential to ensure that programs are comparable to face-to-face programs, but more research is needed to verify the comparability of learning effectiveness. Controlling costs to ensu re that the program is sustainable is also an often overlooked component of the online course development process. Online programs have the potentia l to reach students for whom an education would otherwise not be possible, bu t institutions need to ensure that their costs, as well as studentsÂ’ costs, are managed and that standa rds are in place to assure employers that graduates from online programs are as educat ed as those from face-to-face programs. Online Nursing Education Healthcare experts warn of qualified professional nursi ng shortages in the United States (Stotts, Smith, Edwards-Schafer, Schmidt, & Smith, 2002). The American Association of Colleges of Nu rsing (AACN) predicts that these nursing shortages will intensify as the aging Â“baby boomerÂ” populat ion increases the need for health care (Health Resources and Services Administ ration (HRSA), 2003). A study conducted by the Health Resources and Service Administra tion, Bureau of Health Professions, National Center for Health Workforce Analysis found th at a shortage of re gistered nurses (RNs) projected for 2007 was already evident in th e year 2000. The shortage will be most
24 prevalent in 44 states, including Florida a nd the District of Columbia, by 2020 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2012 to meet growing demands and to replace retiri ng RNs (HRSA, 2003). However, the number of nursing school gra duates who sat for licensure examinations decreased 10% from 1995 to 2004. In order to meet the demands, schools will need to graduate 40% more nurses than are currently enrolled. This shortage of qualified nurses is pa rticularly critical because RNs are the primary source of care for patients at the mo st vulnerable points in their lives (HRSA, 2003). A study of hospitals by Aiken, Clarke Cheung, Sloane, and Silber (2003) showed that with each new patient added to an RNÂ’s workload, chances of patient death after surgery increased by 7%. Consequently, it is necessary to ensure a sufficient supply of nurses to provide quality health car e and reduce morbidity (HRSA, 2003). To alleviate these shortages, much funding and support has focused on graduating nurses more quickly through associate degree programs (Aiken et al., 2003). However, RNs with associate degrees are discovering th at opportunities for advancement are not as available as they are for nurses who hold baccalaureate degrees (M altby & Andrusyszyn, 1997). Even more significant, a study c onducted by Aiken et al. (2003) across 168 hospitals found that with every 10% increase of baccalaureate-prepared nurses, there was a 5% reduction in patient deaths. Maltby a nd Andrusyszyn also discovered that patient mortality was 19% lower in hospitals wher e 60% of nurses had baccalaureate or higher degrees than in hospitals wher e only 20% of nurses held bacc alaureate or higher degrees.
25 The study also revealed that years of nur sing experience had no significant impact on patient mortality. These results indicate the importance of increasing not only the number of RNs, but increasing, as well, the number of nurses who are baccalaureate-prepared (Aiken et al.). A similar study in Canada showed a reduction of 9 deaths per 1000 patients when the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses increased by 10% (Tourangeau et al., 2007). In 2008, a study of cancer patients facing surgery showed that outcomes were associated with nursing educational levels. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses were linked with lower mortality and less a dverse outcomes for patients (Friese, Lake, Aiken, Silber, & Sochalski, 2008). Additionally, nurses prepared at th e baccalaureate level have higher job satisfaction, which is important for retent ion (Rambur, Palumbo, McIntosh, & Mongeon, 2003). Nurses, according to AACN, are the indivi duals who are most directly responsible for patient care (American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2008). Nurses increasingly work as part of a team of co lleagues, all of whom are educated at the masterÂ’s or higher level; nurses should not be the least educ ated members of the health care team. AACN also reports that increased education provides nurses with more indepth science education and prepares nurses w ith a better understanding of all the issues that affect patients. In order to increase access to education, online registered nursing to bachelor or master of science (RN-to-BS/MS) programs have been instituted by many colleges and universities and have resulted in increased student enrollm ent (Kozlowski, 2004; Ostrow & DiMaria-Ghalili, 2005). Ali, Hodson-Ca rlton, and Ryan (2005) state that the
26 phenomenal growth of online education for nur ses may help meet the growing need for qualified professional RNs. Steiner (2001) re ports that in the fi ve years proceeding a 2001 study there was a 500% increase in distan ce education courses for nursing. Many courses are web-based. Others are delivered through vide o conferencing, television, audio/video methods, or by faculty members w ho travel to multiple locations (Steiner). Launching a distance education nursing program requires extensive planning and effective infrastructure, and this involves learning from the experiences of institutions that have initiated programs (Potempa et al., 2001). A 1998 survey of nursing schools was an initial attempt to collect and shar e information for AACN accredited schools and colleges (AACN, 1999). The survey indicate d that 74% of schools that responded had some type of distance education program. Of these, only 25% offered extra compensation to faculty for the develo pment of technology-mediated courses, and 46% had development and implementation of distance le arning courses as part of the promotion and tenure process. Faculty training and deve lopment was offered by 79% of the schools. Over half of the schools reported that c ourses were developed by faculty members in collaboration with outside resources. The most frequent reason given for not implementing technology-driven education was budget limitations (82%), followed by limited time for training (78%), and then lack of technical support (63%). The Alliance for Nursing Accreditation, an alliance of majo r accrediting nursing agencies, issued a statement in 2003 recogni zing the continued growth of distance education (AACN, 2003a). The organization stated that all distance education offerings had to provide the same quality and servic es as face-to-face programs. The statement
27 addresses consistency in student outc omes, including measuring and reporting professional role socialization and clinical competence. Finally, the statement also underscores the inclusion of faculty deve lopment and technical support for faculty members and students (AACN). As increasi ng demand for online education is being addressed by nursing schools and colleges, it is important to ensure that faculty members collaborate with others to develop effec tive online classes, provide ongoing technical support, and ensure that the technology itsel f does not become the focus of the class (Udod & Care, 2002). Online programs can provide a cost e ffective option for both institutions and students, enabling RNs who are working or do not have access to traditional academic settings to pursue their education (Bol an, 2003; McAlpine, Lockerbie, Ramsay, & Beaman, 2002; Stotts et al., 2002). Stotts et al. (2002) address the needs of nurses in remote rural areas unable to attend tradit ional classes. Online education increases educational opportunities for these students a nd has the added effect of increasing the probability that students will remain in thes e rural areas rather than pursue relocation, which is often a consequence of attending classe s away from their homes (Stotts). This is particularly important in gra duate nursing programs, as nur se practitioners may be the only professional health care providers in some rural areas (Udod & Care, 2002). A survey of AACN accredited colleges reveals that three of the priorities for schools that wanted to begin online programs were: to serve rural areas, to remain competitive, and to find the appropriate marketing niche (Steiner, 2001).
28 In an example of how one school addre ssed the attempt to provide education to rural areas, McAlpine et al (2002) described the Universi ty of New BrunswickÂ’s first Web-based course delivered to graduate nursing students in remote areas. Despite some initial technical challenges, most students indi cated in course evalua tions that they felt the online experience was posit ive. Faculty members were able to validate, through discussions and emails, that students in th e course achieved high levels of understanding and critical thinking. In fact, they believed th at online students were superior to students in a live setting when it came to reflective writing and depth of di scussion. The authors recommended adding photographs and a social chat site in order to create a more personal environment. Online nursing education is not without its challenges. Many nursing students are not necessarily proficient with computer technology and, in RN-to-BS as well as in graduate programs, most are returning to school for the first time after many years and are faced with the challenges of learning, as well as the challenge of adapting to the online environment (Jacobs, Rosenfeld, & Haber, 2003). Online courses can be particularly difficult for those in an RN-t o-BS program who come from a community college environment and may not be equipped fo r the challenges of either the technology or the curriculum (Chaffi n & Maddux, 2004). In a 2004 study Kozlowski reported that nursing students found online work to be more time-consuming than traditional classes and stress was increased by time constraints a nd technological ability. Students also had increased anxiety when their expectations on how online courses w ould be conducted did not correspond with reality. However, many online nursing students state that, despite
29 technological challenges of online classes, the flexibil ity and convenience outweighed any issues (McAlpine et al., 2002; Udod & Care, 2002). Wills and Stommel (2002) investigated st udents of two graduate nursing courses, (i.e., a) research and b) agi ng studies) regardi ng their perceptions and preferences in online learning. A pretest-posttest method was used in each of the courses. In the pretest, students were questioned about their learning preferences, th eir perceptions of student and faculty roles and responsibilities, and whet her they expected to learn as much in an online class as they would learn in a live setting. The posttest l ooked at the studentsÂ’ preferences after completing the class, either live or online, and whether they felt that they had learned. Student satisfaction was al so investigated. Anal ysis between the two classes was done as an independent sample t-te st and showed that students in the research course perceived that they were less involve d in their own learning process and were less tolerant of technical i ssues. Students in the aging studies courses indicated that the quality of instruction and learning was gr eater than expected. They also reported that interactions were better than anticipated and technical problems were not as difficult as had been expected. The aging studies students also perc eived that they had learned more than they originally believed they would. Both groups experienced fewer tec hnical difficulties than they had anticipated, though this did not cha nge their beliefs that technical difficulties were the norm. Survey results showed that more students were conve rted to preferring online courses (p < .056) than to not prefer ring them. Survey responses and anecdotal evidence in this study revealed that the research course st udents were more negative about online learning. The authors attributed this to the fact that not only was research
30 one of the first classes introduc ed in an online venue to stud ents, but that research was a required course, and it was imperative that students passed, while aging studies was an elective offered in the second year. This i ndicates, according to Wills and Stommel, a need to ensure that beginning students r eceive adequate training and support before starting their online programs. The research ers also recommend occasional classroom meetings for students who require the support. The University of Kansas provides inco ming graduate nursing students with an online orientation that includes meeti ng technical requirements and identifying computing resources to prepare them for l earning in the online environment (Boyle & Wambach, 2001). In order to ease student sÂ’ fears about online learning, Boyle and Wambach provide introductory activities that enable students to get familiar with the technology. Such activities include particip ating on an online discussion board, where they introduce themselves, and subsequent fo rums related to course content. Use of student facilitators encourages ongoing conversations that need not be led by instructors. As students become more comfortable and skilled with the technology, instructors can allocate to them more control over th e modes of communication and interactions, increasing the studentsÂ’ leve l of responsibility for le arning (Boyle & Wambach). Graduate nursing students return to sc hool because they want to advance their careers, and it is important that they feel the education they receive is applicable to real life situations (Boyle & Wambach, 2001). The in clusion of adult lear ning principles and constructivist theory in the development of online learning experiences provides a framework for ensuring that online courses m eet the needs of graduate nursing students.
31 Additionally, analysis and understanding of information presented online make up an important step in the development of gradua te studentsÂ’ knowledge of evidence-based practice, which is defined as Â“the ability to access and evaluate informationÂ” (Jacobs et al., 2003). Jacobs et al. also st ate that in order to succeed, practicing nurses must be able to navigate successfully in the technol ogical environment. Online classes provide opportunities for students to hone their computer skills. Though many schools have instituted onlin e nursing programs, evaluation of program effectiveness is onl y beginning to be addressed by schools and colleges of nursing (Billings, 2000). A framework for asse ssing the effectivene ss of online nursing program outcomes is recommended. Ali, Hods on-Carlton, and Ryan (2002) developed an evaluation tool based on benchmarks from the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The purpose of this research wa s to identify whether nur sing students valued these benchmarks and to provide an effective met hod for students to evalua te their satisfaction with different aspects of online programs. Re sults were gathered ove r a three-y ear period, and it was noted that satisfaction increased in all areas as the online program matured. The results were used by the authors to design a model for evaluation of nursing programs that could be used by schools fo r self-study or by students who want to evaluate online programs be fore selecting a school. Billings (2000) and Ali et al. (2005) identified similar online nursing program evaluation frameworks that address outco mes, support, education, faculty, and infrastructure. Outcomes refer to traditiona l as well as online learning and are made possible in the Web-based environment through means such as computer proficiency and
32 collaboration techniques that can be util ized in clinical practice. Evaluation and assessment outcomes need to address st udent satisfaction, em ployer satisfaction, retention, and pass rates. Edu cational practices recommende d by Billings are those such as active learning and promotion of student-tea cher interaction, which are most effective in an online environment. Clinical requireme nts for the online program also need to be addressed to meet the ne eds of distance students. Â“Faculty and student supportÂ” not only refers to tec hnical support and orientation, but also to role adjustment for both groups in the online environment. Student support specifically addresses technol ogy needs and provisions for online socializ ation, advising, and tutoring. Faculty suppor t includes recognition and rewa rd. Research shows that academic credentials of faculty members and the faculty membersÂ’ role in developing online courses were criteria deemed importa nt. Faculty members re quire assistance in developing and understanding in structional design and or ientation in the use of technology in order to prepare and plan fo r their new roles as online educators. Use of technology is vital to the succ ess of the online program. Institutional context, institutional commitment to th e nursing program, and technological infrastructure ensure that the courses run with minimal distracti ons and that faculty members utilize the technology a ppropriately so that student learning is efficient and outcomes are effective. Online programs are seen as an answer to the growing shortage of professional nurses as well as to the need for more nur se practitioners in rural and underserved communities. Programs reviewed in the literature have show n success, particularly if
33 students and faculty members are appropriate ly prepared and supported. A successful online program requires the collaboration of a cadre of professiona ls in addition to a commitment by the institution to ensure that an adequate infrastructure is in place. Traditional Role and Respons ibilities of FacultyMembers Before understanding the new faculty pa radigm created by online education, it is necessary to identify and define what it means to be a faculty member in an institution of higher learning. When identifying the traditiona l roles and responsibilities of faculty members in the university setting, the most widely recognized is teaching, followed by research. The American Associ ation of University Professo rs (AAUP) (n.d.) lists three areas of responsibility for faculty members: student-centered work disciplinary (professional) work and community-centered work Â“Student-centered workÂ” includes teaching, advising, course website development, and curriculum development. Faculty members must continually rese arch course content and make updates as needed to the curriculum, serve on master or doctoral st udent committees, and a ssist students and alumni with employment issues. Â“Disciplinar y, or professional, workÂ” involves research, publishing, committee work, and tenure review. Interviewing new faculty members, peer evaluation, grant-writing, and revi ew of library resources are al so considered part of the faculty professional role. Â“C ommunity-centered workÂ” fo cuses on contributions to individuals or inst itutions beyond the unive rsity and includes presentations and professional advising to government and community groups (AAUP). Integrating all three of these roles in an academic career is challenging (Colbeck, 2002). Faculty members report a variety of ways in which they manage their schedules to
34 accommodate these roles, often focusing on one role at a time or apportioning their weeks by allocating a specific day and time to each role. Some faculty members, however, admit reducing effort in one or mo re of these areas. Higher ranked faculty members, such as full professors, were less likely to worry about management of roles and were also likely to address the issue by integrating the roles. They might, for example, make class assignments related to research interests. Less senior faculty members reported working as many as 80 hour s per week in orde r to fulfill their obligations in all three roles (Colbeck). In addition to the traditional roles ascrib ed to them, faculty members also share in the responsibility for govern ance of higher education institu tions (American Association of University Professors (AAUP), n.d.). The rise of faculty governance occurred during the time following World War II, when academic disciplines within institutions of higher learning overtook vocationalism in importance (Lazerson, 1998). Responsibility for shaping the curriculum and developing curri culum within the disciplines were the responsibility of the faculty members. AAUP st ates that faculty members should have the Â“primary responsibilityÂ” for course curricu lum and faculty status, e.g., promotion and tenure. Areas of shared governance recommended by AAUP include selection of a president and other a cademic administrators. Faculty me mbers should have a significant voice in any other areas that have an impact on Â“the educational and scholarly enterpriseÂ” of the institution. Prior to the 1990Â’s, faculty members prim arily focused on delivery of curriculum and research in the discipline (Lazerson, 1998). However, in the 1990Â’s a new focus on
35 how students learn and interd isciplinary education broade ned the scope of faculty responsibilities. Trautmann (2008) writes that preparation for teaching in higher education usually consisted of acquiring subj ect matter expertise; heightened awareness of how students learn and the response to increased student diversity challenged this norm. Trautmann noted that preparation for faculty positions primarily consists of training assistanceships during wh ich students provide support but rarely gain the type of teaching experience that prepares them for th e faculty role. Tradi tional classrooms have prescribed social roles that incorporate t eacher-centered, lecture-based pedagogy (Jaffee, 2003). These traditional elements are reinfor ced by the physical configuration of most classrooms. For example, a one-to-many confi guration depicted by th e lecturer facing a group of students in rows reinforces the trad itional model of teacher as authority and inhibits efforts to provide more l earner-centered educational experiences. An additional obstacle faced by faculty me mbers at research universities is that teaching is often devalued and faculty memb ers are rewarded for their research output rather than for student outcomes. Faculty membersÂ’ attitudes toward teaching are influenced by what they believe is most va lued by their institu tions. Consequently, one survey of faculty members at a research university revealed that most perceived that publishing and getting grants provided them with more recognition and rewards than designing courses. In fact only faculty devel opment and clerical work were perceived as less important (Colbeck, Cabrera, & Marine 2002). Additionally, faculty members who are not white and male often face challenges to their authority and ability from students, and from their institution, as well (C hesler & Young, 2007). In a study of faculty
36 membersÂ’ satisfaction, females were somewhat less satisfied than their male colleagues with authority over their work (Seifert & Umbach, 2008). Faced with all these obst acles to teaching online and the competing demands of the traditional roles, some institutions have l ooked for different models in order to ensure faculty success. Link, Swann, and Bozeman (2008) recommended an allocation of faculty time based on a particular universityÂ’s speci fic institutional goals, e.g., research or teaching. Their study indicated that once facu lty members achieved success, measured by attaining tenure, they were able to devote more time to other areas not as critical to that success. Harvey, Sigerstad, Kuffel, Novicevic and Keaton (2006), proposed a method of rethinking faculty roles that could lead to increased productivity, moving toward outcome-based results. Their study looked at identifying faculty memb ers by roles, such as Â“newcomerÂ” or Â“senior,Â” that reflect their status within the college. This study recommends that administrators assess indi vidual faculty members based on their roles and allocate resources and work in order to meet the needs of individual faculty members as well as those of the institution. For example, newcomers who have been hired based on performance and skills may not have acquire d a terminal degree; therefore, they are encouraged and supported in this venture a nd protected from othe r institutional demands that may distract them from this goal. The researchers recommend further empirical research in order to determine whether this proposed model will restructure faculty management (Harvey et al.). Increased pressure by government and st udents to enhance sk ill-based education, along with faculty membersÂ’ interest in l earner-centered educati on and constructivist
37 pedagogy, may strengthen the call for changes in traditional faculty ro les (Goethals et al., 2004; Hughes, 2007). Hughes predicts that facu lty members will beco me more adept in working as part of a team in addition to becoming managers of change. It will be important for faculty members to become more knowledgeable about the design and evaluation of curriculum. Increasingly, faculty members who have these skill sets in addition to the ability to in troduce innovative educa tional models will be the preferred faculty applicants. Faculty members must al so become increasingly skilled at making decisions based on evidence. Hughes reports that, for various reasons, faculty members have neglected scholarly research and teachi ng methods. In order to accomplish all these goals, Hughes recommends that the inst itution offer faculty development, encouragement, and rewards in order for facu lty members to become successful in their new roles (Hughes). Faculty members are traditionally expected to provide service in multiple areas, specifically: research, educati on, and service. Pressure to achieve tenure often forces faculty members into focusing on only one of these areas at a time, depending on their institutionÂ’s focus. The demands of faculty members to secure promotion and tenure are compounded by the increasingly complex needs of students. New ways of prioritizing these responsibilities are being researched as administrators at institutions of higher learning seek to balance the needs of st udents with those of faculty members. Traditional Role and Responsib ilities of Nursing Educators The role of the nursing educator is sim ilar to that of other university faculty members and includes teaching, research, a nd community service. But in addition,
38 nursing educators are usually re quired to introduce methods to improve patient care while maintaining their own nursing skills (Gormley, 2003). Nursing educators must be skilled health care providers who maintain profe ssional nursing standards and have advanced degrees that qualify them as a nursing ge neralist or specialis t (Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), 2002). Nursing stude nts must be taught to reconcile their individual needs w ith the health care needs of society. SREB (2002) lists three nursing educator roles: teacher scholar and collaborator The teacher role requires faculty to be skilled in pedagogy. Additionally, nursing educators must teach students how to provide health care to a diverse population. In 2005, the National League of Nursing (NLN) identified eight core competencies of nursing educators. These competencies include facilitation of learning socialization use of assessment and acting as an agent of change which includes participation in curriculum development and program evalua tion. Commitment to quality improvement addresses the need for conti nuous learning along with the need to pursue scholarship. Finally, nurse educators need to function within the educational environment in which they are currently engaged. The scholar role requires nursing educators to participate in, design, and use research in curriculum and in practice (SREB, 2002). Competencies re late to the nursing educatorsÂ’ ability to conduct research as we ll as to engage students by participation and by helping them understand how to apply resear ch in clinical prac tice. Collaboration is vital for nursing educators in order to comm unicate policy and health care agenda with various constituencies.
39 The current nursing shortage has been im pacted by the concurrent shortage of nursing educators (American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2003b). The National League for Nursing (2005) estimat es that there are 16,440 full-time faculty members at baccalaureate and higher educationa l institutions in the United States There are 1,390 unfilled faculty positions for all types of institutions, with 411 unfilled positions within the Southern re gion, which includes Florida. Lack of faculty sharply reduces the number of students who can enroll in programs throughout the nation (Kovner, Fair child, & Jacobson, 2006). Reasons for the shortages include an aging workforce, en ticement of doctoral gr aduates into other employment venues, and salary differentials between educational and clinical positions. Nursing faculty members are often encouraged to have significant clin ical careers before committing to teaching, and this raises the age at which nursing educators may embark on an academic career (Yordy, 2006). Other factor s cited are the cost and length of time to obtain a doctoral education and the cha nging student population, which is challenging faculty members to learn new ways of teach ing a diverse group of individuals. Often, faculty members who supervise cl inical experiences are respons ible for very ill patients Â– a factor that adds to the complications. One method utilized by a majority of institu tions to address the faculty shortage is to hire part-time faculty members (Kovner et al., 2006). Other in stitutions reported increasing workloads of current faculty me mbers and limiting admission of new students, which could exacerbate the current situ ation. AACN (2003b) recommends including more strategic support for students pursuing advanced degrees and creating opportunities
40 for current faculty members to obtain doctora l degrees and to participate in education development programs. The Robert W ood Johnson Foundation suggests clinical internships that encourage students at a mast erÂ’s level to train as educators as they participate in clinical experiences (Yordy, 2006). Nursing faculty members must adhere to the same requirements as faculty members from other disciplines, but they must also maintain their own clinical skills and supervise their students while caring for pot entially seriously ill patients. The intense workload, lack of rewards, and the private s ector competition have seriously impacted the number of qualified nurs ing faculty throughout the na tion, compounding the already critical nursing shortage. Role of Faculty in Online Education The role of both nursing and non-nursing f aculty in an online environment differs from the traditional role in that the online instructor is expect ed to become a facilitator of online learning (Frese, 2006; Jaffee, 2003; St einer, 2001). Consequently, online faculty members must adapt to a new way of teaching a nd relate in different ways to their peers, students, and other professionals with wh om they previously had little contact. Frequently, all this must be done without significant preparat ion or training. The active learning strategies required in an online setting alter how teachers teach and how students learn (Jaffee, 2003). Th e role of online faculty members requires skillful manipulation of discussions and lear ning activities in order to engage online learners and ensure they ar e interacting sufficiently w ith the content (Frese, 2006). McCrory, Putnam, and Jason (2008) also conclu ded that students control the learning in
41 the online environment. Students have the abil ity to interact with the content and with their peers in their own ways without instru ctor intervention or control. Consequently, faculty members need instructional design competencies in converting face-to-face courses into an online venue so that student s will receive guidance in their interactions. Other instructional skills necessary for e ffectively teaching online include designing authentic assessments and dealing with plag iarism and cheating. Despite well-developed content, instructional design implementation, an d other factors, student interactions were the determining factor in how the class went. In live classes, faculty members can control the information flow of the course, but in online classes, students may not follow the direction identified for them. Not all traditional teaching methods are lost once faculty members move to online teaching. Johnson (2008) looked at nursing faculty members transitioning to online teaching. These faculty members were part of a consortium of eight universities receiving grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundati on to create online curriculum for nurse practitioner programs. Particip ants reported concerns that they would not be able to transfer any of their tradi tional teaching methods to the online venue and were more comfortable once they discovered they could ut ilize some of their previous methods such as testing and issuing writi ng assignments (Johnson, 2008). Nurs ing faculty at University of Wisconsin also reported that while some of their methods were transferable, they had to rethink other teaching methods, such as preparation of handout s and communicating at a distance. (Diekelmann et al., 1998).
42 Of major concern to all faculty members in several studies was the inability to read studentsÂ’ faces when covering course content; faculty members expressed concern over how they would be able to gaug e whether students understood the content (Diekelmann et al., 1998; Frese, 2006; Johnson, 2005; Ryan et al., 2004). New pedagogies, such as interactive multi-media and online synchronous classes, were instituted to compensate for this lack of face-to-face contact, but these took time and training, both of which were often reported as missing by online faculty members (Frese, 2006). One hundred percent of nursing faculty me mbers surveyed by Ryan et al. (2005) felt the need for development and mentori ng when embarking in online teaching. In a 2006 study by Frese, only 25% of faculty memb ers strongly agreed that they received adequate training from their institutions pr ior to beginning to teach online. Others reported that rarely did training includ e pedagogical methods for online teaching; although 74% stated that having a mentor was important, only 15% had one. The technical training most desired but lacking, according to faculty members, was content management system training, which addresse s subjects such as how to create online assignments and tests (Frese). Despite having had an orientation to technology prior to beginning teaching, nursing faculty members at the University of Wisconsin expressed concern about the lack of thorough technol ogy knowledge as well as an insufficient overall understanding of the process of teach ing in an online venue (Diekelmann et al., 1998).
43 Changes in familiar ways of working and scheduling their time was a concern faculty members reported in a number of st udies. In a study of nursing faculty at the University of Wisconsin, members reported th at as they began teaching online, they found the experience disrupted schedules that they had been used to for many years (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Primarily, faculty members perceived that there was an increase in the amount of time it takes to teach when instruction is online (Hopewell, 2007). Study participants stated that communication and the gr ading of assignments were more time-consuming than in face-to-face courses. Specifically, faculty members reported that answering questions via ema il is more time-consuming than verbally answering a question in the presence of other students who may request the same information. Faculty members in this study felt compelled to respond to emails as soon as they were received and, consequently, this was seen as an inte rruption that occurred throughout the day. Monitoring discussion board s to ensure students were interacting with the content, as well as providing additi onal assignments, factored into the increased time spent in teaching online, though this opinion was not universally held by all faculty members within the study. Several particip ants indicated that once faculty members became familiar with these new methods of grading and communicating, the activities would not be as time-consuming. Responding to studentsÂ’ emails and discussions once or twice a day provides consistency and reliability for the students and enables faculty members to be able to structure their time so they are not feeling the need to respond continuously to student emails (Boyle & Wambach, 2001).
44 JohnsonÂ’s (2008) study of graduate nursi ng faculty members also revealed that, while some indicated there was an increased time commitment, others identified a restructuring of time that was initially unfam iliar, and all agreed up-front time to develop an online class was extensive. Maintaining courses and designing multimedia components increases the time to develop onl ine courses. This factor is not often accounted for in faculty workload assignmen ts, as Schwarzman concludes (2007). Over 80% of nursing faculty members reported that teaching online was more time-consuming than teaching face-to-face, part ially because courses were frequently rotated; therefore, compensation, workload, and ownership of online content needed to be addressed prior to delivering online education (Ryan et al., 2005). The number one concern of faculty members at Mississippi State University was time for faculty course development and revision (Gammill, 2004). The need for administrative support was expressed by all faculty members interviewed in multiple studies (Gamm ill, 2004; Johnson, 2008; Ryan et al., 2004; Schwarzman, 2007). Administrators frequently believe that faculty members can manage larger numbers of students in online course s, not taking into account the additional number of assignments that will be submitte d for grading in performance-based courses (Schwarzman, 2007). In a study of Mississippi State University faculty members who taught online courses, admini strative support and faculty wo rkload were rated high as important elements when teaching online (Gammill, 2004). Though questions surrounding intellectual property ownership ma y create a reluctance for some faculty members to embark in online education (Passmore, 2000), faculty members at
45 Mississippi State University did not consider th is issue particularly significant. Online courses are often created by teams, as opposed to individual faculty members, and these courses designed for the web could be market ed, exposing instructor content to venues outside the classroom. Also of concern is th at universities will replace faculty members with less expensive course facilitators once the online content is developed. Frese (2006) learned that many faculty members felt there was a lack of incentives to teach online, as well as few lim its in the size of classes, and almost all lamented the lack of technical support. A lack of incentives was also reported by Gammill (2004) as a major barrier to faculty membersÂ’ willingness to teach online. In HopewellÂ’s study (2007), faculty members repor ted risks to the tr aditional role of educators. These risks included increased ti me commitment, low student evaluations due to technical issues, and lack of time to do research. Faculty members expressed concern about how this disruption impacted their non teaching activities, such as research and writing, and how it required them to adjust sc hedules, as new course development often required them to work over breaks between semesters. Student expectations are different in online courses. All nursing faculty members surveyed by Ryan et al. (2005) indicated that students expected communication within 48 hours of posting a question. These expectations reported faculty members, required them to make adjustments in the ways they work, and 65% of faculty members felt that their relationships with students had changed. Facu lty members also expressed concerns that students were not aware of their responsibil ities as online learners. The importance of students having a thorough understanding of th e technology before en rolling in online
46 courses was an important fact or identified by faculty memb ers (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Once students and faculty members feel comf ortable with the technology, classes move along at a more appropriate pace. Faculty members reported the need for new relationships with technical s upport professionals, as they have had to rely on expertise other than their own to deve lop and support th eir classes. Nursing faculty members at Univer sity of Wisconsin recommended that partnerships with media specia lists and technical training/su pport staff be in place and well established before undert aking the development and delivery of a distance education program (Diekelmann et al., 1998). They reporte d that it is important for faculty members to be involved in decisions made about th e technology used, but th at these individuals should not become too mired in learning all about how everything works; instead, faculty members should use their limited time to focus on distance education pedagogies. Sharing insight with other faculty member s was found to be an expedient way of educating themselves on the ever changing la ndscape of online edu cation (Diekelmann et al.). Faculty members at Mississippi State Un iversity also identified the importance of having a technical infrastructu re and support in place but found technical expertise to be of little significance (Gammill, 2004). Conceicao (2006) advise d the use of instructional designers to reduce the time of developm ent and maintenance of new courses. Concerns that online faculty members mi ght not receive evaluations comparable to those in face-to-face cla sses were explored by Kelly (2007). Kelly compared evaluations of 41 faculty members who each taught one online and one face-to-face class and identified 20 topical categ ories of responses including rapport attitude ability
47 workload and preparedness, and three appraisal categories identified as praise constructive criticism and negative criticism Results indicated that, while the percentage of responses that praised online courses wa s slightly higher ( 41.2% versus 36.3%), the percentage of responses from face-to-face c ourses praising faculty (14.9%) was slightly higher than the percentage praising of online faculty (9.3%). However, a MANOVA conducted on student perceptions of overall e ffectiveness of course and faculty showed no statistical difference between online and face-to-face courses and faculty (p = .321) (Kelly). HopewellÂ’s (2007) study, however, provi ded a less positive outlook of online evaluations. Response rates to on line evaluations were usually less than 20%. This raises concerns about the valid ity of the evaluations and how th ey would be used to determine promotion, tenure, and retention of faculty me mbers. In addition, faculty members in this study stated that online students were more vo cal in their complaints than students who did live evaluations, and some of the negative remarks were based on student frustration with technology rather than on faculty performance. Peer reviewers, though, were more likely to indicate a higher level of compet ence for those faculty members who taught online. Additionally, faculty members who teach online have the added benefit of being able to print the course content to provide evidence of activities and teaching innovations for performance reviews (Hopewell). Advantages of online teaching were e xpressed by 97% of faculty members who enjoyed the ability to schedule their time and work from varying locations (Ryan et al., 2005). Flexibility was seen as a significant advantage by all faculty members interviewed
48 by Hopewell (2007). Â“FlexibilityÂ” refers to scheduling and the freedom to work in nontraditional areas. Though many faculty member s have reported concern at the loss of physical presence, some have embraced new opportunities for inter acting with students not available in the traditi onal face-to-face classr oom (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Faculty and students reported feeling that distance educ ation allows them to be more open and to feel less stifled when expressing their view s and opinions. Some faculty members have even reported that they have revised their beliefs about their face -to-face classes based on their online teaching experiences; they no longe r believe that they always understand how students are reacting to classr oom experiences. Getting to kno w learners in this venue offered a new experience and challenge th at enabled them to increase their own knowledge. One faculty member reported that meeting more frequently in an online venue allowed for creating a greater impact on how student s learned and provided an increased personal connection wi th students (Hopewell, 2007). Faculty members have reported a high de gree of satisfaction with being involved in designing and delivering an online course as this has provided them with the opportunity to enhance their own skills in a new area of study (Conceicao, 2006). As a result of their personal analysis on teaching differences, some faculty members have even reported enhancement of reflective thinking (D iekelmann et al., 1998). The flexibility has also included having more time for research and writing and time away from campus that faculty members could use to collect data. On line tools, reported faculty members, were more efficient for gathering data, and teach ing online offered a wealth of opportunities for research. One instructor also stated that by offering online classe s, the institution is
49 furthering its outreach to stude nts who might not have previo usly had access to higher education. Faculty members who choose or are requi red to teach in online venues are faced with challenges to their trad itional methods of teaching. They must learn to collaborate with peers, students, and other professionals in ways that were previously not part of their roles. Often, they are expected to do all this wi th little training or support. They are expected to work in new ways but are not gi ven time to learn which pedagogical methods are most effective or applicable to their role s. However, there are perceived rewards, such as flexibility and acquisition of new skill sets. Transformative Learning Unlike other adult learning theories, transformative learning emphasizes the cognitive processes of learning rather than the learnerÂ’s characteristics. This theory attempts to define the process for assessi ng meaning in a relevant and rational manner and for subsequently developing a plan of action (Mezirow, 2000). Transformative learning can be an intensely emotional experien ce as learners examine their core beliefs and assumptions. The process of transf ormative learning can support and guide individuals through the emotiona l responses that may occur. Adults must continually negotiate an environment defined by new and changing information (King, 2005; Mezirow, 2000). That is why all learni ng must emphasize the skill of critical reflection and the means of validating information present in the transformative learning process. Suppositions formed uncritically can distort the accuracy of perceptions about our beliefs, knowledge and even social norms (Mezirow, 1991).
50 Our beliefs and knowledge should be tested using the process of reflection, discourse, and then action, which are the overarching areas of the transformative learning process. Ultimately, we must make meaning out of our knowledge and beliefs, as this is the core of the learning process. Through transformative learning, our frames of references become more inclusive and discriminating (Mezirow, 2000). A Â“frame of referenceÂ” refers to the assumptions that we hold about ourselves, our culture, our beliefs, and the resu lting point of view. According to Mezirow (1991), transformative learning occurs when adults experience a disorienting dilemma that challenges one of th eir assumptions. This is followed by self examination and critical assessment of existing beliefs and assumptions. After this reflection, the learner recognizes through discourse that othe rs have shared a similar experience and negotiated a ch ange. Once the individual reje cts the existing assumption, there is a period of exploring and researching options, then developing a plan to acquire new skills or knowledge and adjusting to new ro les or beliefs. Finally, after the learner becomes confident with the new role or belief, that role or belief is integrated into the individualÂ’s life (Mezirow). An example of a disorienting event th at could prompt transformative learning, according to Williams (2002), was the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The event was momentous enough to precipitate a di sorienting dilemma to many individuals, causing them to reassess their current sy stem of beliefs and knowledge. Persons who believed that our country was impenetrable or that our world position kept us safe from these sorts of attacks were faced with a d ilemma. Transformative learning, says Williams,
51 is not comfortable and requires us to read just our meanings, which determine how we interpret what we think. Mezirow (2000) states that transformati onal learning requires emotional maturity. Merriam (2004) carries this further by stating that in order for transformative learning to take place, the individual must have the abilit y to engage in higher levels of thinking. A potential for transformative learning requires pr econditions such as setting aside bias and engaging in rational discussions of oneÂ’s beliefs and theori es. Without mature cognitive development, according to Merriam, transfor mative learning cannot take place. Merriam expresses the need for more qua litative research on the topi c in order to validate this belief. King (2005) cautions that, as adult edu cators, we must not re quire that learners engage in transformative learning. Because of the intensity and emotional component of the experience, we cannot decide whether stude nts are at a place in their lives where they can cope with the experience or whether they have the cognitive abilities described by Merriam. Cranton (1994) states that at the heart of transformation is the ability to identify and describe oneÂ’s assumptions. Then the lear ner must decide whether the assumption is valid, and if not, decide to reject it. Contex t is also a factor that affects the learning process. Beliefs and values often vary base d on the context of culture, gender, and socioeconomic levels, and it is important not to ascr ibe a specific set of beliefs and values to transformational learning. According to Cranton (2006), in order to foster authentic learning, educatorsÂ’ relationships with students is central to the pr ocess. To begin this process, the educator
52 needs a degree of self-awareness. Self-awa reness was revealed in CuddapahÂ’s (2005) investigation of the transformative experiences of fi rst year teachers. Of the ten participants in the qualitative study, eight illu strated transformational experiences based on MezirowÂ’s theory. The first step in the re search process was to determine whether the teachers had discourse about the experience, possibly indicating a disorienting dilemma. Second, the teachers reported on their critical reflection regarding the experience. This process, which revealed their level of self -awareness, was done eith er through journaling or through questioning of colleagues. The third phase was to plan action. Cuddapah stated that, while the teachers had identified plan s of action, the resulting implementation was less evident. KreberÂ’s (2005) survey of science te achers found that while many claimed to engage in the processes of transformative learning, they had trouble showing how they were actually performing critical reflect ion, and similar to CuddapahÂ’s study, were unable to show how they were integrating transformative learning into their teaching careers. KreberÂ’s study also showed that more experienced teachers and teachers who were more focused on learner-centered learni ng practices were more likely to indicate that they reflected on their practices. In order to develop a sense of themselves and become genuine educators, teachers must examine their assumptions about the role of traditional faculty members (Cranton, 2006). King (2005) states that teaching starts wi th critical reflection that addresses Â“why we engage in teaching and learning day afte r day, what our assumptions might beÂ” (p. 89). Sockman and Sharma (2008) describe in their experience as instructors moving
53 toward developing a transformational model of teaching that it was necessary to examine beliefs about education, ensuring that inst ruction was based on actual needs and not unexamined assumptions. The researchers report that the journey involved concerns that often caused reactions needing to be addre ssed in emotional terms, not in academic language. Specifically, the instructors disc overed that rigid as sessments inhibited studentsÂ’ ability to take risks, and the instructor began to incorporate meaningful questioning, rather than lecturing, in order to foster transformative learning (Sockman & Sharma). StudentsÂ’ objectives often reach be yond what is taught and measured in the classroom (King, 2005). After self awareness, being aware of i ndividual studentsÂ’ learning is necessary (Cranton, 2006). This could be accomplished by the use of learning contracts in which students identify their own learning needs and goals (King, 2005). Students should have the opportunity to explore different frames of reference and new roles within a safe environment, utilizing the educator as a re source. Developing activ e learning experiences that involve learners and addr esses their needs and goals fu rther the process by allowing learners to explore ne w perspectives (King). Since, as indicated, it is important to t each students the skills of transformational learning, it is also important to know whether online students are acquiring these skills that presumably are taught in live classes. A study at University of Oklahoma indicated that 38.5% of the online adult students showed evidence of transformative learning based on their responses to the Learning Activity Survey (Wansick, 2007). The survey questioned whether students had changed per ceptions and ways of thinking since entering
54 the online program. Results also indicated that the longer students had been in the online program, the more likely it was that they ha d experienced transformative learning. This study, according to Wansick, affirms that onlin e education can provide deeper learning experiences as well as live courses can; however, the case could be strengthened by comparisons to live programs and by info rmation regarding how online students are supported in their efforts to acquire and util ize the skills of tr ansformative learning. The literature reviewed for this study s hows how much work has been done in the research of online education. Online teaching methods, course design, and communicating with students are all topics frequently addressed in the literature. However, only a small amount of research was di rected at the role of the online educator. Studies that did look at the change in ro les included Johnson (2008) and Ryan, et al. (2004; 2005) who both studied graduate nursi ng faculty members to identify specific concerns and issues relating to the onlin e teaching role. Other studies (Crawford & Gannon-Cook, 2002; Hartman et al., 2007; Pass more, 2000) looked at faculty membersÂ’ concerns regarding promotion and tenure a nd how teaching online might affect their traditional faculty role. However, none of th ese studies looked at the transformative process that faculty members experience wh en transitioning from live to online teaching. Conclusion The literature indicates that online le arning is a growing concern in nursing education and in other fields of study, though it is s till in its infancy. At this time, most public and many private universitie s and colleges offer at least some of their course work online. The need for online education, pa rticularly in nursing, is evidenced by the
55 growing nontraditional populations who are una ble to attend traditional college classes but who have an individual need, as well as a community need, to obtain an advanced degree. As administrations in institutions of higher learning decide whether to implement or support existing online programs, the need for standards and quality programs should be addressed at the onset of an online program. Financial and marketing assessments are also an important component that enable an administration to effec tively and judiciously plan, identify the needs of the community, and ensure that the infrastructure to support this endeavor is in place. The needs of faculty members are also an important piece that is often overlooked in the rush to implement online education. No t only must traditional faculty members still fully participate in the mission of the universitie s at which they serve, but they must also teach in ways that are new to them Â–ways for which they have never been prepared pedagogically or t echnologically. As addressed in the literature, nursin g faculty members face the same challenges as traditional faculty, but they must also maintain their nursing practices, make clinical visits, and provide service to the comm unity. Online nursing programs are becoming increasingly popular in order to address the growing shorta ge of qualified nurses and to provide trained practitioners to serve in rural and other unde rserved communities. Preparing nursing faculty members for teachi ng online is vital to the success of these programs. This study addresses the needs of nursing faculty members who are faced with transitioning from traditional faculty to on line facilitators and is examined through the framework of transformational learning.
56 CHAPTER 3 METHODS The purpose of this study was 1) to appl y phenomenological research strategies in the examination of experiences of nursing faculty members who transitioned from faceto-face classroom to online teaching, and 2) to analyze the reported experiences for evidence of transformative learning. The inten tion was to develop a rich, thick portrait of the participantsÂ’ experiences in order to gain insight into how faculty members perceive their role in the online environment and to determine whether there were significant differences from their role as classroom teacher. For purposes of this study, Â“online nursing faculty membersÂ” refers to fulla nd part-time faculty members in a universitybased nursing program who, having begun their career in classroom teaching, have taught online for at least one year. Research Questions The following research questions provi ded the framework for this study: 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty members in transitioning from live faceto-face classroom to online teaching? 2. What assumptions did nursing faculty memb ers hold about the role of faculty in online education prior to their experience in online teaching? 3. What experiences related to online teach ing may have challenged nursing faculty membersÂ’ perceptions?
57 4. To what degree did instituti onal support and infrastructure impact faculty membersÂ’ experiences? 5. Based on the framework of transfor mational learning, what evidence of transformation can be identif ied through an analysis of the experiences described by nursing faculty members? Research Design A phenomenological method was used to explore the meaning of nursing faculty membersÂ’ experiences around a specific phenomenon, online teaching. Phenomenology is a method of philosophical inquiry that en ables researchers to examine the underlying beliefs and values of individuals within a field of practice (M erriam & Simpson, 2000). Moustakas (1994) states that Â“Phenomena ar e the building blocks of human science and the basis of all knowledge. Any phenomenon re presents a suitable starting point for investigationÂ” (p. 26). According to Creswell (1998), when doing phenomenological research there should be one overarching central question that speaks to the issue being studied, followed by topical questions that anticipate the information needed. The central question should focus on a greater understanding of the hum an experience and is qualitative, rather than quantitative (Moustakas, 1994). In this study, question 1 was the central question and questions 2 through 4 were the topical questions, anticipating the data analysis process. Interviews were analyzed using the transformative learning model to address research question 5.
58 Through one-on-one interviews, faculty me mbers were asked to describe their experiences, lessons they learne d, and their feelings about the role of the online educator. Mezirow (1991) states that research in tran sformative learning is difficult because the investigator does not have access to the meaning schemes or perspective of the participants. One of the methods recomme nded is the open-ended interview, which enables participants to convey additional info rmation that may help the researcher when attempting to understand the participantÂ’s perspective. Sample Selection A purposeful criterion-based sample of individuals was included in this study. Moustakas (1994) advises that qua lifications for inclusion are th e participantÂ’s interest in understanding the phenomenon, willingness to pa rticipate in the interview session, and agreement to have the interview taped and in cluded in the dissertation. Creswell (1998) recommends no more than 10 participants fo r a phenomenological study. In the case of this study, the 16 selected participants teach in an online nursing pr ogram and began their teaching career in a live venue. Adjunct faculty were not addressed in this study, since often they do not receive the same type of institutional support and development as fulltime faculty (Biro, 2005) and, therefore, may not have similar experiences. From three to five participants were r ecruited from each of four public university colleges of nursing in Florida: Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, and University of Florida. The University of South Florida was not included because I am an employee and student at this university. Two other public universities were not in cluded due to a lack of online nursing programs at these
59 institutions and because the geographical di stance was prohibitive. In phenomenological research, all participants do not need to be at a single loca tion but all must have similar experience and must be able to articulate that experience. The sampling strategies used to identify participants were criterion-based; all participants must meet similar criterion and may be selected by snowball sampling, in wh ich individuals were identified by peers familiar with the criteria. In this study, as a starting point, each of the college deans was contacted to request a list of faculty members who met the criterion. Additionally, colleagues and other particip ants contacted through prof essional organizations and special interest listservs we re utilized. Sampling in qua litative inquiry is based on gathering the most information possible, not on statistical inferences or generalizations (Lincoln & Guba, 1985); therefore, the intent here was to find individuals who met the criteria and were able to de scribe their experiences. In each situation, the deans of the select ed universities were emailed, and these deans forwarded my request to the faculty me mbers. In several cases, faculty members contacted me and recommended other potential participants. Colleagues also gave me names of faculty members and, through them, I was able to identify other participants. A few participants were iden tified by searching websites a nd determining who taught in online programs and contacting these individual s directly. In one case, a faculty member from one of the universities attended a conference that I also attended and provided me with a list of faculty members who taught onl ine. I was also able to identify some participants from the university website. Al l contacted faculty members were able to
60 participate, with the exception of two memb ers who were out of town during the data collection phase. Data Collection Interviews are the primary source of data for phenomenological studies; secondary are artifacts that ar e related to the context of th e phenomenon (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). Data for this study was collected through semi-structured conversational interviews and a review of related materials, such as syllabi and topical outlines of courses, which further describe the experience of teaching online. Syllabi and topical outlines provided information about how courses are taught by faculty members and revealed other information about support and services available to online students. Curriculum vitae were collected in order to assimilate demographic information and to maximize interview time. The interview offered a forum to interact with each individual and to discuss the phenomenon of interest, which was transitioni ng from teaching face-to -face to online. It is the responsibility of the researcher to make the interview ee feel comfortable. Moustakas recommends doing this by beginni ng with a brief social conversation. This was accomplished for this study by asking each of the participants how they came to be a nurse educator, since education is rarely an initial goal of most individuals attending nursing school. This gave individuals an opportu nity to describe their early experiences and their perspectives on e ducation. Interview questions we re open-ended and left room for flexibility of responses. This provided opportunities for new or unexpected information to emerge. The questions needed to provide an opportunity for participants to
61 explore the meaning of the online teaching experience and to describe their lived experiences (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). The intervie w guide that was used in these interviews is included in Appendix A. The interview focused on the phenomenon, though the open-ended nature of the session enab led the participants to discuss related areas not specifically addr essed by the researcher. Though an interview guide is important to the process, part icipants who share their full story may not need interview questions (Moustakas, 1994). Interv iew questions were as follows: 1. Tell me how you came to be a nurse educat or and about your cu rrent teaching role. 2. What prompted you to begin teaching online? 3. Think back to when you got your first onl ine teaching assignment. What were your assumptions and expectations about teaching online? 4. Please describe how you went about developing your first online class. 5. What role did your institution play in preparing you to teach online? 6. How do your initial assumptions compare to the actual experience of teaching online? 7. How do your methods for teaching online differ from those in your face-to-face courses? 8. What are the biggest differences you have found between teaching face-to-face classes and teaching online classes? 9. The traditional role of a faculty member is defined as Â“participation in teaching, research, and service.Â” How has teaching online impacted that role? 10. Is there anything you would like to a dd that might help in understanding your experience in transitioning to online teaching?
62 Potential participants identified thro ugh peer nominations were contacted by email first and informed of the study, then were approached by telephone if needed. Faculty members who met the criteria were co ntacted and invited to participate in the study. Upon their acceptance, an appointment was scheduled for a face-to-face interview at the participantÂ’s location. Pa rticipants were provided with a written description of the study and an interview guide prior to the appointment. They received a request for syllabi, topical outlines, and a curriculum v ita. Each individual was asked to sign a statement of informed consent in the form of a University of South Florida Institutional Review Board approved consent form (see c opy in Appendix B). Institutional review boards at each of the partic ipating universities were c ontacted in order to ensure compliance. Interviews took approximately one to two hours, and, on a few occasions, additional follow-up questions were asked at the time of the in terview or later, by email. All participants were emailed a transcripti on of the interview and were given the option of removing or clarifying information. No f aculty members requested that any changes be made. Additional information was gathered by a search of each institutionÂ’s website. This information was used to identify what support and training servi ces are available to faculty members and students who are participating in th e online program. Pilot Study In order to ensure that the interview prot ocol is appropriate for gathering data that will answer the research questions, a p ilot study was implemented. This pilot was undertaken at the University of South Florida Â– College of Nursing, which is not included
63 in this study. Two faculty members who met the criteria for inclusion were identified. The interviews followed the guidelines for da ta collection previously described, however, faculty members were also asked to provide input on the feasibility of the interview guide. The initial interview guide was revise d and faculty members at another college within the university were recruited to pa rticipate. Finally, a colleague at another university was interviewed at her location in order to practice and refine the entire process. Data collected for the pilot was not used in the data analysis for this study. Description of Data Collection Once I was able to schedule at least one faculty interview from each of the institutions, I contacted othe r faculty members, informed them of my time on campus, and scheduled additional interviews. A few faculty members offered to recruit and schedule their colleagues for me. Locations for the interviews were identified by the participants, and, prior to beginning, I ma pped out all the places where I would be meeting faculty so I could be on time for each interview. Interviews at SU1 were accomplished in two separate trips. The rema ining interviews were scheduled during a single week during which I travel ed to each of the locations. Mo st of the interviews were conducted in faculty offices or conference r ooms. One interview took place at a coffee shop, and one was over lunch at a restaura nt. The major disadvantage of these two locations was background noise that was picked up on the dig ital recorder; however, this was not excessive, due to the placemen t and the quality of the recorder. Upon arriving at the interview locati on and introducing myself, I asked the participant to sign the informed consent form. I offered to send each one a copy, but all
64 participants declined. Each participant was then informed that the interview would be recorded. Several participants expressed c oncern about confidentia lity. This was of particular concern to one part icipant, who due to the fact that he was male would be a minority among the participants and therefor e more identifiable. Participants were assured that they would not be identified in the final analysis, nor would they be associated with their universities. Because nursing faculty members are fairly well known to one another throughout the state, descrip tions of participants in this study were minimized in order to ensure anonymity. Two di gital recorders were used to ensure that the interviews were captured successfully. I de cided not to take notes in order to focus my attention on the participant. After each session, however, I wrote about my experience in conducting the interview. I included my im pressions and feelings about the individual interviewed. Many of the participants indica ted they were very busy, and my presence seemed almost like an intrusion. Some seemed uncomfortable in being interviewed. With three of the participants ther e was an immediate rapport, but in the remaining interviews the conversations were somewh at stilted at the beginning. Once the interviews began, however, the participants became very eager to speak and often went beyond the allotted time. There were only two participants who did not seem to rela x during the interview and seemed eager for the session to end. Each interview began with a question not related to the pheno menon. In the initial question, the participants were asked to descri be how they became nurse educators. This question led them to provide me with a br ief autobiography and seemed to relax those who seemed uncomfortable or impatient w ith the process. Additionally, if faculty
65 members indicated some other par ticular interest, such as research or service, they were given the opportunity to discu ss these interests before the official interview began. The remaining interview questions were all relate d to their online teaching experiences. When responding to the questions, faculty members of ten veered into othe r topics directly related to their experiences, and this fr equently provided me with unanticipated information about the phenomenon. When po ssible, faculty members were asked to actually show me their online classes, and this gave them a chance to illustrate some of the concepts they had addressed. At the end of each interview, a question was provided for participants to enable them to add anything they thought was impor tant that had not been covered by the interview protocol. This approach did not re veal much new information so the question was amended, and participants were subse quently asked for their advice to faculty members who were just beginning to teach on line. Specifically, what they wished they had known before they began to teach online? Participants were very eager to provide advice and to describe what had been missing from their own prepara tions to teach online or what had been particularly useful. By th e end of the interviews, most participants appeared very relaxed and went on to provi de details concerning their personal lives. Though participants were not promised any comp ensation for participation, at the end of each interview a thank you note and gift certif icate to a restaurant were presented. Data Analysis In phenomenological research, data an alysis involves determining complex meaning from direct experiences (Merriam & Simpson, 2000). Looking for the essence of
66 the experiences, common themes from multiple experiences across cases was the aim of this research. Each interview was transcribed and examined for potential themes pertinent to the research focus. Steps for analysis as identified by Moustakas are as follows and include descriptions of my experience in analyzing the data: Describe the researcherÂ’s experience with the phenomenon Because it is important for the phenomenological research er to be as free as possible from preconceptions, the researcher should desc ribe previous experiences with the phenomenon. I have been an instructional design er for over nine years, with six of those years in nursing education. Additionally, I have taught on line nursing courses as an adjunct instructor for three years. A journal of my inte rview experiences was kept regarding each of the interviews. A descrip tion of my experience with the phenomenon is included in Chapter 1 of this document. Search for statements in the intervie ws identifying how the participants are experiencing the phenomenon The process is called horizo nalization of the data. It ensures that each of the statements related to the phenomenon is initially given equal value. I made the decision, after investigation of the options, to transcribe the interviews myself. Using software that could be downl oaded free of charge, I found I could listen closely to each of the discussions and then eliminate some parts of the conversation that were not related to the interviews. Transcri bed interviews were then uploaded into the Atlas.ti software system, and statements re lated to the phenomenon from each interview were highlighted and labeled w ith initial descriptors. After completing this process once,
67 I was able to look at each of the statements that were gr ouped by the descriptors. Only statements that were directly rela ted to the phenomenon were included. Group statements by meaning and provid e a textural description of the experience In this step the researcher created themes under which to group statements from the interviews that were relevant to the research questi on. After examining the statements horizontally, it was easier to id entify how statements should be grouped, and the initial work was modified to better al ign statements. The statements that were identified were labeled by themes that em erged as the transcriptions were reviewed. Upon completion of this step, themes were reviewed to determine which ones were duplications that could be combined into other themes. Eventually 17 sub-themes were identified that were subsumed into 6 major themes. The statements were then re-coded by the major themes and sub-themes within the Atlas.ti program. A short definition of each theme was created to help focus the assignment of statements. Construct a description of how the phenomenon was experienced These descriptions should provide a clear account of each participantÂ’s experience with the phenomenon as well as the underlying structure that motivates the accounts. A detailed description of each of the themes was construc ted and is presented in chapter 4. Using the statements identified for each of the themes, I described how the participants experienced the phenomenon based on each of the themes. As much as possible, direct quotes from the participants were used so that the desc ription would be in th eir own words and more precisely capture their experiences. Due to context, however, some narration was needed to explain why certain statements were relate d to the theme that was being described. Not
68 all statements were used, since many were sim ilar, so only statements that best described the phenomenon were included in the descri ption. A table identifying how many times a specific theme was mentioned by the participan ts and how many indivi dual participants mentioned each theme was included so that th e reader could gain a perspective of the importance of a particular theme among the participants. Construct an overall description of the meaning The themes identified for each participant were analyzed to depict a composite textural description of the group. From these textural descriptions followed a compos ite structural descri ption. These textural descriptions of the meaning are identified in chapter 5 through discussion of each of the themes. These descriptions include my analysis of the meaning of the experience as well as interpretations and significance to the field. At this point, though direct quotations were still being utilized to illustrate the an alysis, my interpretation of the meaning was included. After performing these steps for each of the participants, construct an overall composite of the data This step identifies a way of understanding how th e participants experienced the phenomenon as a group. The text ural and structural descriptions are synthesized to identify the mean ing and essence of the experien ces of all the participants. In this step, an overall su mmary of the phenomenon was pr ovided in the analysis of research question 1, and was based on the descri ptions of each of the themes addressed in the previous steps. Research questions 2 through 5 provided a more detailed description and analysis of specific concep ts of the phenomenon that were addressed as part of the overall experience.
69 External Validity In quantitative research, ex ternal validity relates to the ability to generalize findings beyond the sample to the larger population Â– a process supported by the results of random sampling. Merriam (1998) states that qualitative researchers are not attempting to generalize but to understand specific cases. Generalizability, however, can be improved by selecting multiple cases from multiple sites as described above. Lincoln and Guba (1985) describe transferability, which includes rich, thick descriptions of the phenomenon that enable readers to evalua te the information and reach their own conclusions. Other methods include the use of predetermined ques tions and a specific procedure for analysis of data plus rich, thic k descriptions of participants within their context and the selection of cases that clos ely represent the phenomenon of interest. All of these strategies were applied to this st udy. In the reporting of da ta, specific quotes and descriptions were used to s upport the identification of themes and patterns. A specific set of criteria was applied in c hoosing each participant. Internal Validity Techniques to improve credibility in quali tative research were utilized. The data was analyzed not only the by me, but by the Atla s.ti qualitative data analysis software as well. Using thick, rich descriptions can he lp to accurately convey the findings and provide readers with a sense of sharing the analytical e xperience (Creswell, 2003). An audit trail has been maintained, linking themes to corroborating eviden ce, that is, actual quotations that validate the themes. Another technique applied here is peer examination of findings to further strengthen internal valid ity. Peer review consisted of the researcher
70 disseminating interpretations and conclusi ons to six peers, including nursing and education faculty members not directly related to the research but familiar with the phenomenon being investigated (Johnson & Ch ristensen, 2004). Peers were expected to challenge the researcherÂ’s findings, require evidence for interpretations or conclusions, and identify whether the researcherÂ’s re flections impacted the data analysis. For this study, four nursing faculty memb ers were each given an interview from one of the participating univers ities. They were then provi ded with a list of themes developed by me and asked to check off all th emes addressed in the interviews. Three of the peer reviewers responded and indicated that they had found more than 50% of the themes listed in their indi vidual transcriptions. One re viewer did not respond. One reviewer recommended rena ming one of the themes. Two other individuals, one with a doctor al degree in education and one a doctoral candidate in education, were each given two tr anscripts from two universities, so that one transcript from all four univers ities was reviewed. The peers we re asked to generate a list of themes from the two transcripts. A co mparison showed that no new themes were identified. Dependability Qualitative research is not an attempt to isolate human behavior; instead, it seeks to describe and explain the wo rld as experienced by those indi viduals of interest. Rather than using reliability as a measure, Linc oln and Guba (1985) suggest evaluating the findings in terms of dependability and consis tency in reference to the data collected.
71 Techniques such as qualitative software, peer re views, and an audit trail were utilized to strengthen the research design. In this study, the use of qualitative soft ware, peer review, and an audit trail were already mentioned. As the study progressed, ea ch participant was thoroughly described from the standpoint of both responses and the related background information collected. This information was included in the rich, th ick description in th e reporting of data. Prior to the collection of data, applica tion was made to the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB). Upon approval, the IRB at each of the participating universities was contacted to en sure compliance within those institutions. All data collected by the researcher is stored at the researcherÂ’s home office.
72 CHAPTER 4 DESCRIPTION OF THEMES The purpose of this study was to apply phenomenological research strategies to examine the experiences of nursing faculty members who transitioned from face-to-face classroom to online teaching and to analyze their reported experiences for evidence of transformative learning. The intention was to develop a rich, thick portrait of the participantsÂ’ experiences to gain greater insi ght into how faculty me mbers perceive their role in the online environment and to de termine whether there were significant differences from their role as classroom teachers. For purposes of this study, online nursing faculty refers to full or part-time faculty in a university-based nursing program who having begun their career in classroom t eaching and have taught online for at least one year. Research Questions The following research questions provided the guiding framework for this study: 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty in transitioning from live face-to-face classroom to online teaching? 2. What assumptions did nursing faculty hol d about the role of faculty in online education prior to their e xperience in online teaching? 3. What experiences related to online teachi ng may have challenged nursing facultyÂ’s perceptions
73 4. To what degree did instit utional support and infras tructure impact faculty experiences? 5. Based on the framework of transfor mational learning, what evidence of transformation can be identif ied through an analysis of the experiences described by nursing faculty? A set of interview questions based on these research questions was developed to guide discussions with particip ants. The interview protocol is available in appendix A. Though an interview protocol was used, many of the comments utilized for this study were the result of discussions initiated by the participants. Additionally, other questions were used or refined in subsequent interv iews based on initial interviews. While the questions were used to initiate discussion, part icipants frequently deviated from the topic to describe experiences related to th e phenomenon. These conversations provided additional data beyond what was addressed in the interview and contributed to the identification and analysis of the themes. Participants For this study, 16 nursing faculty memb ers from four majo r state universities were interviewed. Interviews were conducted at the participantÂ’s lo cation, typically in their offices or nearby conference rooms. In tw o cases, the participants met the researcher at public locations. Eight of the faculty members interviewe d were located at satellite campuses. It is important to note that on the evening before two of these faculty members were to be interviewed, the provost announced tentative plans to close the campus as a cost-saving measure. The interviews lasted from 28 minutes to 1.5 hours, though most of
74 them were between 45 minutes and one hour. Table 1 shows the number of faculty members from each university. All state univers ities with an online nursing program were included in this study, with the exception of University of South Florida and one other state university that was eliminated because of distance. Data comprising a description of each of the colleges, the type of support pr ovided, the number of faculty members, and the types of online programs, are presented in chapter 5 under the discussion of research question 4. The collegeÂ’s expectations for thos e teaching online were identical to faculty teaching face-to-face courses. They were all subject to th e same evaluations, workload, and class sizes as in face-to-face courses. Table 1 Number of Participants from each Site University Number of Participants State University 1 (SU1) 5 State University 2 (SU2) 3 State University 3 (SU3) 4 State University 4 (SU4) 4 All faculty interviewed were register ed nurses (RNs) and had experience in patient care prior to beginni ng their teaching careers. Most of the participants had a doctorate degree but all had at least a masterÂ’s degree in nursi ng. Three of the participants were male and only one participant was part-time, though one participant was on a visiting line. To allow them time to talk a bout themselves and to feel more comfortable with the research, all participants were aske d at the beginning of th e interview how they
75 came to be nurse educators. In response, only one of the participants indicated that the career path was planned. All taught online in either an RN-to-BS or graduate program. Some also taught traditiona l face-to-face undergraduate or Ph.D. courses and clinical courses. Two of the participants had received degrees that we re online or partially online, and three others had taken classes or had be gun online degrees. Two of the participants had online teaching certificates obtaine d through other institutions. Though many participants volunteered personal information su ch as age, marital status, and number of children, this information was not included in this study. All participants were asked for a curricul um vita and at least one course syllabus. The curriculum vitae of most faculty members were available on the universityÂ’s website, and these were used in a few cases in which the researcher was unabl e to get one by other means. In order to preserve anonymity, each of the participants has been given a pseudonym. In order to provide some background information about the participants, the pseudonym of each one is presented in Tabl e 2, along with the type of degree received, location, and the year each participant graduated from nursing school. The number of years of online teaching by each participan t is also included. The final piece of information describes how each of the participants reported being prepared to teach online. All SU1 faculty members are required to attend to attend formal classes that prepare faculty members to teach online. Pat and Gerry both came from schools that provided mentoring as they be gan teaching online, and both participated in research
76 projects related to online e ducation. Ronnie was one of the first faculty members at SU2 to teach online and was sent by administrators to various workshops and seminars. Faye, however, has had no training and began teachin g by adapting existing courses and relying on peers for support. Casey and Joey both re ported that they were self-taught, though both attended workshops presented by the uni versity to enhance th eir current skills. Morgan reported beginning to teach by adap ting existing courses but stated that the university provided one-on-one training with the technical support st aff. Morgan also utilizes the university works hops. Stacey and Chris work together at a satellite campus and began teaching hybrid classes prior to t eaching entirely online classes. They work very closely together and attend occa sional workshops on the main campus. All SU4 faculty members receive tec hnical training provided by the learning management system vendor. This was not th e case, however, when Tony began teaching online at SU4. At that time, the only training or support available we re colleagues at the main campus. Both Ray and Dale earned certificates in online teaching from other colleges. All faculty members who teach at satellite campuses report that they occasionally travel to the main campus for training, but in all cases this was almost a twohour drive so the faculty memb ers are limited in how often th ey can attend these sessions. Additional measures to preserve anonymity will preclude inclusion of gender and fulltime/part-time status.
77 Table 2 Participant Description University Pseudonym Year Graduated from Nursing School/ Degrees # Years Taught Online Type of Preparation to Teach Online SU1Â† Terry 1974 / BSN, MSN, MEd 11 Mandatory formal training SU1 Leslie 1970 / BS, MA, PhD 5 Mandatory formal training SU1 Pat 1972 / BSN, MEd, MSN, PhD 7 Mentored*, research project*, mandatory formal training SU1 Gerry 1988 / BSN, MSN, PhD 5 Mentored*, research project*, mandatory formal training SU1 Jesse 1970 / BS, MA, MSN, EdD 2 Mandatory formal training SU2Â† Ronnie 1967 / Diploma, BSN, MSN, DSN 5 Sent to workshops by administration SU2Â† Faye 1973 / BSN, MSN, DSN 1 Existing courses, peers SU2Â† Joey N/A / BSN, MSN, DSN 8 Self-taught, workshops
78 Table 2 (Continued) University Pseudonym Year Graduated from Nursing School/ Degrees # Years Taught Online Type of Preparation to Teach Online SU3 Casey N/A / AS, BS, DN 5 Self-taught, workshops SU3 Morgan 1970 / BSN, MS, PhD 3 Existing course, 1-on-1 training, workshops SU3Â† Stacey 1977 / ASN, BSN, MSN 1 Existing course, peers, hybrid classes, workshops SU3Â† Chris 1970 / ASN, BSN, MSN 3 Existing course, peers, hybrid classes, workshops SU4 Ray 1978 / BSN, MSN, PhD 6 Certificate in Online Teaching, vendor technical training SU4Â† Tony 1976 / AA, BSN, MSN, PhD 5 Peers SU4Â† Tyler 1964 / AAS, BHS, MSN, PhD 4 Existing course, vendor technical training SU4 Dale 1976 / BSN, MSN, PhD 3 Post-graduate certificate in distance teaching, vendor technical training Training received at a previous university Â† Located at a satellite campus
79 Description of Themes To organize the information in a meaningful manner, each interview was transcribed and the steps described in ch apter 3, based on Mous takas (1994), were utilized to provide horizontiliz ation of the data in order to identify themes. Transcripts were uploaded into the Atlas.ti software progr am and the researcher coded all statements related to the phenomenon. A ta ble of all the statements, grouped by themes, was created and re-examined to determine if the initial th emes were valid and if the statements were categorized appropriately. This step also provided me w ith the opportunity to examine each statement equally. Upon anal ysis, the themes were refined and the statements were re-coded based on the revised schema. Ultimately, 17 themes were identified and these were subsumable under six major themes. The six major themes identified from this study are: Faculty Development and Support Faculty Issues and Concerns Communication in the Online Environment Teaching in the Online Environment Advantages of Online Education Students in the Online Environment The Faculty Development and Support theme refers to the types of training and eductation faculty received pr ior to teaching online and how they are currently supported in the online environment. Sub-themes incl ude: Preparing Faculty to Teach Online, Institutional Support and Resour ces, and Faculty Collaboration.
80 Faculty Issues and Concerns was identified as a theme in which participants described the difficulties and challenges th ey faced as online educators. Sub-themes include: Time and Effort to Teach Online, Types of Content Taught Online, Student Evaluation of Learning, and Eff ectiveness of Online Education. The Communication in the Online Environment theme describes how faculty members relate to their students and c onvey content asynchronously. Sub-themes include: online relationships, assessing st udent understanding, and communicating effectively in the online environment. Teaching in the Online Environment provides actual methods that faculty members use in their online classrooms a nd addresses how teaching online has changed or re-inforced the role as educator. Sub themes include: online teaching methods and faculty as facilita tors of learning. The Advantages of Online Education theme presents participantsÂ’ views on how online education can provide benefits to bot h students and faculty. Sub-themes include: increased student participation, schedule flex ibility, and other miscellaneous advantages. Participants found that students in the online environment sometimes react differently from students in the face-to-face classes. This theme describes some of the differences attributed to onlin e learners. Sub-themes include: attributes of online students, student learning styles, and student cheating. The six major themes and 17 sub-themes are listed in Table 3, which indicates how frequently each theme was mentioned throughout all the tr anscriptions, Also included is information showing frequency by participant, whic h indicates how many
81 participants out of th e 16 actually mentioned a particular theme. Following the table is a composite textural description of each theme. A discussion and analysis of each of the themes is presented in Chapter 5. Quotations from the transcripts that address each theme are utilized in these descript ions. Many of the quotations were similar to one another in context and meaning, so those utilized in thes e descriptions are repr esentative of all the participants who co mmented on a theme. Table 3 List of Themes and Frequencies Major Theme/Sub-Theme Frequency Frequency by Participant (n-16) Major Theme One: Faculty Development and Support Preparing Faculty to Teach Online 52 12 Institutional Support and Resources 30 11 Faculty Collaboration 26 16 Total 108 Major Theme Two: Faculty Issues and Concerns Time and Effort to Teach Online 70 16 Types of Content Taught Online 13 12 Student Evaluation of Learning 10 6 Effectiveness of Online Education 3 3
82 Table 3 (Continued) Major Theme/Sub-Theme Frequency Frequency by Participant (n-16) Total 96 Major Theme Three: Communication in the Online Environment Online Relationships 51 15 Assessing Student Understanding 12 6 Communicating Effectively in the Online Environment 12 7 Total 75 Major Theme Four: Teaching in the Online Environment Online Teaching Methods 37 14 Faculty as Facilitators of Learning 19 8 Total 56 Major Theme Five: Advantages of Online Education Increased Student Participation 21 9 Schedule Flexibility 13 9 Other Miscellaneous Advantages 8 8 Total 42
83 Table 3 (Continued) Major Theme/Sub-Theme Frequency Frequency by Participant (n-16) Major Theme Six: Students in the Online Environment Attributes of Online Students 25 11 Student Learning Styles 6 4 Student Cheating 5 4 Total 36 Major Theme One: Faculty Development and Support Several questions in the in terview protocol were about the type of preparation faculty members received when beginning to te ach online and what t ype of support these individuals currently receive. Preparing Faculty to Teach Online looks at what types of training (formal provided by the instituti on, or informal, provided by mentors or colleagues) that faculty members received wh en starting to teach online. Institutional Support and Resources describes what types of ongoing technical suppor t and training are provided by the participantsÂ’ colleges and universities. Finally, Faculty Collaboration emphasizes the significance of having the daily and ongoing support of peers in addition to, or in place of, formal institutional resources.
84 Preparing Faculty to Teach Online Several faculty members admitted to not having had any idea of how to get started teaching online and just more or less gue ssing at what they believed would work. RonnieÂ’s first impression of online courses at SU2 was that the medium seemed flat and uninviting when she wanted it to be, instead, Â“interesting to me,Â” assuming it would then be engaging to students, encour aging them to interact and learn the content. Her solution was to learn Â“how to do PowerPoint pr esentations and voice over Â… it was a onedimensional media so I had to do so mething with my assignments.Â” Jesse describes having Â“no idea how to teach online. I didn't know how to put together a module. I just di d what I thought Â…it would be a good idea. And I learned along the way.Â” Ray thought that Â“when I actually got to teach my first course, and it was actually this nursing research course, and I kind of thought IÂ’v e taught this course for a couple of semesters, IÂ’ve got al l the PowerPoints, the quizzes IÂ’ll just load it all on the night before the class.Â” However, the transiti on from live to online was not as simple as Ray thought it would be. So I was sitting there loading it all on the night before the class and realized this PowerPoint makes absolutely no sense, unl ess IÂ’m standing next to them talking about them. Because you have a slide that says what is a hypothesis. Well in a classroom I put that slide up and I sa y ok what did you read about a hypothesis and we talk about that and the slide makes lots of sense. But if all youÂ’re doing is sitting there with your com puter screen and you see a slide that says what is a hypothesis ... this is not going to work. So it was a real quick how do you get that
85 piece of the information that you sort of give to students in a classroom, that whole discussion interaction into this screen thatÂ’s staring at them. Terry assumed that teaching online woul d just involve Â“dumping my PowerPoint in the online class and that w ould be it that I didn't really need to make any changes. I already really had the course developed so this shouldnÂ’t be too much of a problem.Â” However, after meeting with an instructi onal designer, Terry rethought the whole online class design. I can remember the instructional designe r met with me, and he let me go on and on and on for about 15 minutes about how I got the PowerPoints down, and I already got the exams down so this shoul d not be too much of a problem. He was very patient with me for about 15 minutes, then all of a sudden he went Â‘no thatÂ’s not how web education is. Forget what you did in the live face-to-face classroom. This is a whole different ball-game.Â’ It wa s like a wake-up call and I said what are you saying? Well I look back nowÂ… thank god for him to finally get me to think straight. Ray was a relatively new faculty member at SU4 when the dean announced that the college would be adding online educati on. Having no experience in that environment and feeling concerned about the fact that she had just gotten a mortgage, Â“panic set in. I quickly got on the computer and found the onlin e teaching course at an extension school. I need to take this fast. Because obviously all these people know how to teach online.Â” Ray soon discovered that none of the faculty at SU4 were prepared for this transition, and her extension school education made her the mo st qualified online educator. At that time,
86 there was nothing offered at SU4 to prepare faculty to teach online. Now, according to Ray, workshops for teaching online are schedul ed regularly for all faculty members. Additionally, technical training on the lear ning management system utilized by the college is provided at least once per semester Tony, who works at one of SU4Â’s satellite campuses, also describes the lack of training av ailable when the college originally started offering online classes. The only option was to drive two hours to main campus and meet with Ray and a few others for advice. That situation has changed. T ony reports that Â“now you can't offer an online course unless you've had training.Â” At SU2 Ronnie was one of the first faculty members to teach online. At that time, she reported, Â“they sent me to different web technology courses in the beginning.Â” Now, Ronnie and other faculty at SU2 talk more a bout helping each other than utilization of faculty development courses. Faye, who wa s the least experienced of the faculty interviewed at SU2, says she uses models creat ed by other faculty to get started. Prior to coming to SU2, Joey received extensive trai ning from her previous employer and having gotten her doctorate online, utilizes he r experiences as an online student. At SU3, Casey states that, Â“they offer a va riety of classes that are free, obviously, and where they will teach you anything from all of the technical aspects of the platform, the BlackBoard platform, to actual teaching stuff. They teach lots of classes that feed into the online format.Â” However, the availability of the classes is not widely known among faculty members at SU3. I was here for a little while before I real ized they were available and I started to use them. And SU3, and probably not now with our new budget, but with our old
87 budget theyÂ’d even pay you to take th ese classes during the summer to get additional training and to ma ke you better at doing it. SU1 had the most extensive, formal trai ning program of all th e state universities visited for this study. The program, described by Terry, is a requireme nt for all faculty teaching online courses. It lasts an entire semester and you go for 6 hours every Friday the whole semester Â… You develop a minimum of one, and many times two, modules because at the end of the semester you do a presentation. They invite deans and muckety-muck from SU1 to watch your presentation so you have to produce a product by the end of the semesterÂ… Every week you have an assignment, you have postings to do; you have quizzes to take. ItÂ’s just like a regular class so youÂ’re essentially enrolled in a web course the whole time. Students at the Fine Arts College are also i nvolved in the faculty development program at SU1 and work with individual faculty me mbers developing online courses to design graphics that correspond to the subject matter. Video streaming and a recording studio are also provided, reports Terry. Â“They have a ve ry structured way that you can put together a class so the finished produc ts is something you and the university can be proud of.Â” Pat also attended SU1Â’s online developmen t course. Â“And to be honest, it offers a lot about group work and those kinds of things, but the frustrating part is that it really doesn't offer a lot about the hands-on kinds of things.Â” Pat, however, utilizes an online support group at SU1 that provides answers to some very basic questions that Pat and other faculty members have when setting up courses. Jesse, who has a doctorate in
88 education, found the SU1 training to be not ve ry helpful. Â“They taught me nothing about how to effectively engage students in disc ussion and even how to mechanically set up experiences to maximize student learning.Â” Each of the participants at the satellite locations menti oned that they had difficulty in accessing the training. At SU2, faculty memb ers mentioned having to travel to the main campus for additional training; instead, they freque ntly utilize one another for support and guidance. Tony reports that SU4 does Â“have workshops that are available now on the main campus and they do bring th em to the distance campus when there is a large enough group.Â” Stacey had a similar experience at SU3. So if she and I [reference to colleague at satellite campus] wa nt to travel over there and go to classes then thatÂ’s great. However, now and then they'll come over here. But when they do itÂ’s just to teach how to use PowerPoint or something you know. WeÂ’re way beyond that now. Utilizing a mentor when beginning to teach online was one method of learning mentioned by many of the faculty. Tony believes that Â“people need a mentor. They need someone that has taught online before. I th ink itÂ’s a good idea to co-teach an online course with someone so you get a sense of how itÂ’s done.Â” When Leslie went through the faculty development program at SU1, Â“the y had some experienced people and you could ask what did and didn't work.Â” Now that Le slie and others have taught for some time online Â“we actually are mentors to everyone else coming in. So I always have a couple coming in talking about howÂ’d you set yours up, why did you do it that way.Â”
89 Dale, also an advocate of mentoring, a dvises approaching the transition to an online teaching role by seeking out Â“someone or several people that I could perhaps go to. A go-to person to help me so that IÂ’m not alone trying to make that transition from classroom to online.Â” Dale began teaching onl ine with a mentor and now provides that kind of support at SU4 for other faculty member s who are just beginning to teach online. I do it in various ways. Face-to-face and so metimes IÂ’m in another state actually on their classes looking at th ings, at the issue. Iis it the electronics, or is it something to do with the teaching learni ng strategy? So IÂ’ve actually mentored about 6 or 7 folks since IÂ’ve been here. ItÂ’s growing into my regular assignmentÂ… You are starting to see some workshops on online education but thereÂ’s no substitute for having someone there right wi th you or available right in real time to help you. Gerry, who received training to teach onlin e at another university prior to coming to SU1, also reports having had a mentor. Â“You never taught your first class by yourself. You were always co-teaching with someone who had done it before.Â” The mentor provided feedback as needed. Gerry describes how the experience worked: Having the co-teacher mirror me in the class so they could jump in when they needed to. They could also give me feedback along the way, you know, Â‘Give more feedback here, youÂ’re giving too mu ch feedback here, you could go shorter and get away with it, Â’ that kind of thing. Upon being assigned to teach online, R onnie Â“approached it from almost the same manner that I did when I converted to sync hronous delivery. I looked for role models.Â”
90 Now, finding a mentor is the number one pie ce of advice Ronnie provides to new faculty members starting to teach online. Casey reco mmends that faculty members just starting to teach online find the most highly skilled online teachers from any discipline to use as role models. Take a look at what's going on in your school or your department for online teaching. And after you've done that, imme diately go to the other colleges on campus that have online programs and ask to sit with faculty members who are Â– whose programs recommend as a highly sk illed online teacher Â– and have them actually go through their web pages with you to show them the kind of features that they integrated with their courses. Rubrics, standards, templates, and other guidelines were utilized by some colleges for the development of their online courses. Jesse advises faculty to Â“look at samples, look at what a lot of other people do, do a temp late, work off a template and that'll make it easier for students to figure stuff out.Â” Us ing templates enabled Pat to create Â“a fully online course myself and did it in a week a nd it really wasn't hard with the use of templates.Â” Gerry had been very involved at a previous university in developing a rubric that identified quality in online courses. We were concerned about the rigor more than anything. Because at my previous university, rigor is important, and we were concerned about it. So I spent a full year developing this rubric with the group so the end result of that rubric was a really nice set of questions and thought s, and questions that you could not only look at an existing course, but as you were developing a new course you could
91 say, OK, am I including these really impor tant pieces in it. And those are the things that made the development of that first cl ass much better. At some institutions, the standards, or templates, are mandatory when developing online courses. According to Terry, when di scussing online developm ent courses at SU1, Â“they do not want a maverick class. In othe r words they want a standard.Â” Pat further describes the experience at setting up course s at SU1. Â“ThereÂ’s a ce rtain way they want us to do our syllabus. We pick out the skins, the color combination, and then they design the templates.Â” Despite some of the advantages to the standards described by faculty members, Joey felt restricted by what can be done at SU2 when she began developing her online courses. There were stricter guidelines on what could be put up, what couldnÂ’t, you know. How you could use stuff, that kind of thi ng. There were tools that the university provided, but you couldnÂ’t necessarily put something new up there and then require the students to do things on their end unless it was sanctioned by the college kind of thing. So there have b een some limitations. And what I have found typically here Â– whatÂ’s done is you put up a PowerPoint and reading assignments and itÂ’s very droll and dr y and not very productive. So I've become somewhat disillusioned with it over the years. StaceyÂ’s first online class was tightly rest ricted in what could and could not be changed. Â“I do get it. In terms, we got to la y this class out and ma ke sure it accomplishes
92 what we want, but ... we're all different a nd I think I want to deliver some of it differently.Â” Despite the opportunities to learn how to teach online offered at the various universities, some faculty members refused to avail themselves of these opportunities because, with the exception of SU1, the c ourses and workshops were not required. Consequently, the courses created by the faculty who did not participate in the opportunities to learn how to teach online caus ed some frustration in faculty members like Casey, who inherited some existing course s at SU3. Â“When I was first asked to, and then looked over, the courses, a lot of the courses were re ally correspondence courses.Â” Casey was faced with dissatisfied students w ho were concerned about the content and the support they were not receiving. The students were really not getting what they needed out of the whole thing and a lot of them were not really satisfied. I actually talked to some of them about various courses. Not to get dirt on my colleagues, I wanted to see what they thought they were getting. Because my per ception was they werenÂ’t getting what I got, where I had access to faculty members and things like that. I amÂ…I was kind of pulled into it because the leadership he re made a decision that we needed to do that. Casey believes that if faculty members were required to participate in online course development workshops and courses, they w ould improve the quality of the courses and enhance student learning.
93 Dale is likewise alarmed by Â“experienced classroom facultyÂ” who claim they Â“can teach online, but who then do not utilize resour ces available to help them improve. And I have found that [ability to teach online] not to be the case.Â” Dale reports having some issues when trying to prepar e them for online teaching. Â“But hey, IÂ’m here to be a mentor. IÂ’m here to facilitate your learning. What you do with that learning is what you do with it.Â” Casey feels that lacking background in e ducational principles is part of the problem with nurse educators whether their teaching is live or online. Most nurses donÂ’t have a ve ry big background in educational systems, so they donÂ’t set up very good learning opportunities fo r people online. Because Â– and itÂ’s not because theyÂ’re lazy or anything like th at Â– itÂ’s just they donÂ’t know what they looked like and they donÂ’t know much about the ways that people actually learn. Because we nurses donÂ’t generally get traine d in that sort of thing. And because we donÂ’t even have a very good theoretical background in that area, we stumble around like idiots for a few y ears until we figure it out. Institutional Support and Resources Though all participants reported having in stitutional support fo r online education, the most extensive support was at SU4. Th e college of nursing, along with one other college on the campus, chose to go with an outsi de vendor to deliver online classes. Since the vendor is a for-profit company, faculty memb ers believe that support is better than it would otherwise have been. Ray reports that Â“we have 24/7. They respond within 4 hours usually.Â” The company provides technical s upport for both faculty and students and is
94 paid for through a student assessment fee. Ra y says that the first semester, Â“a couple of people complained about it. ItÂ’s become a co mplete non-issue. It just shows up on their bill. They pay it. Some people say, I spend more than 100 dollars driving to campus.Â” Faculty members like Tony appreciate ha ving someone available Â“at 2:30 a.m. When IÂ’m actually getting around to working on my course, I can call and get a live person if IÂ’m having a problem with the grad e book.Â” The format of the learning platform is particularly welcome to those like Tyler, who claims that Â“my computer skills are not my forte at allÂ” but finds the system to be a Â“really very user-friendly format.Â” Dale is migrating a class to the new platform and has had Â“some issues in the migration. But theyÂ’re just a phone call aw ay. boom boom boom. They kne w what I wanted. TheyÂ’re responding to me as a consumer.Â” Terry reports that SU1 has a Â“help desk that is open 24/7 that is manned by computer science students.Â” There is also Â“f aculty support on weekends I can call; I have a number I can call, on the weekends.Â” Leslie re ports that in addition to technical support, SU1 assigns faculty members an instructional designer. I mean theyÂ’re always there. Anyway, if you have a question you have someone who is your designer who is pretty much in charge of your courses. Â… They do have classes all the time; itÂ’s just findi ng the time to go do it. They have live and online classes. I do better live because I don't know what theyÂ’re talking about. Sometimes itÂ’s easier for them to just show me. IÂ’m more visual than some of the younger ones; theyÂ’re so good at just kind of going like this and theyÂ’ll pull it up and theyÂ’ll do it better IÂ’m still kind of old. IÂ’m more visual. Show me what
95 button you're hitting. They give you pretty good support as long as you ask. TheyÂ’re more than happy to help you out or make things easy for you or to show different ways if you have a problem how to do it. Pat advises everyone to Â“take advant age of resources on your campus.Â” In addition to the assigned instruct ional design consultant though, sh e also refers to Â“certain people here, whether theyÂ’ve taught the same le ngth of time online or longer or shorter, I know the key people that have mastered ce rtain aspects.Â” Jesse finds the assigned designer to be an asset in supporting development of the online courses. We all have a designer and IÂ’m not sure who they have now next to my name, but the person who is my original designer is still here and is god's gift to anybody teaching on the web. SheÂ’s quite wonderful so when I run into nitty-gritty problems and I've done some other things and I haven't gotten them fixed I can drop her a note. She usually responds around the time I hit send ItÂ’s that kind of response, so I get really good stuff. A nd the faculty support for web courses has improved astronomically, but it depends a litt le bit on what you expect. I write my own modules. I upload all my own modules. I upload all my own exams, so IÂ’m not asking a lot of web services. Which is a little different fr om someone who has never uploaded their modules, and their modul es really haven't changed in the last three years. At SU2 Joey reports that Â“over the past couple of years there have been more and more resources available. So now there are c ourses that faculty can take.Â” The College of Nursing at SU2 has their own webmaster, re ports Ronnie. Â“One of our faculty members
96 was really a techie and he switched over to being the webmaster and helped us.Â” In addition to the webmaster, Â“we also have a nother technical person w ithin the college of nursing.Â” The online development department at SU3, according to Casey, are Â“the people who run our BlackBoard system. TheyÂ’re availa ble all the times day or night. And they have specialists on hand and who can go into your courses and help you. So we have a lot of technical support.Â” Casey sa ys the college Â“hired a coupl e of people internally, but they were sort of part-time educational, Ph D students and stuff. They were never here long enough to really help. A nd a lot of the faculty had al ready previously developed their courses and didnÂ’t want to change them at all.Â” Morgan also concurs that as far as technical support goes Â“we here at SU3 are ab solutely blessed with one of the best application groups. We have our own distan ce learning technology people here and SU3 is known as one of the most wired universities in the entire countr y, if not the world.Â” Specific individuals are assigned to help nur sing with instructiona l design and technical support. We have our very own person whoÂ’s earma rked for nursing who works with all of us. SheÂ’s a PhD in information technology. She works with us. We have continuous seminars where you can go and s it down at the com puter and learn the newest updates, newest things like that. Th ey would come to my office, would sit down with me and say, Â“What do you want to do?Â” I would say, Â“I think I would like to do this,Â” and he would sit down and show me how best to do it. It was
97 really easy in terms of making that tr ansition because I had such tremendous technical support. Support and resources at satellite campus es can be not as successful or more difficult to acquire. When referring to the faculty development classes offered on the campus, Joey explains that Â“we don't necessarily have access to them unless we travel to main campus.Â” Ronnie admits that Â“those of us on this campus tend to be fairly independent when it comes to the technology and we help each other. If colleagues cannot help, then we get on the phone and try to ask the [college] web master. And then we can go up to the university level.Â” At SU3 Stacey indicates that, Â“all sup port is on main campusÂ” but has found the support lines to be especially helpful. You use the help line and you can type in or call and IÂ’ve done both. TheyÂ’re really good. I was trying to Â– the biggest th ing Â– I had to set up the grade book the first timeÂ… So I called and the man said I have an online workshop about that and I found out thereÂ’s all kinds of little workshops online. So I opened that and IÂ’m frantically taking litt le notes; first you do this, and then you do that. And then he said, Â“No, you watch that and then call me and IÂ’ll walk you through it.Â” Did it on the phone. So thatÂ’s great. They are great. But over here on this campus, thereÂ’s a librarian and sheÂ’ll help you somewhat, but sheÂ’s very busy. SheÂ’s got all these disciplines and we get most of our support from over there. Occasionally, faculty members need to provide support to their students. Ray describes how normally she pops in out of th e online class two or three times a day. Â“All
98 my big assignments are due on Wednesday. So on Tuesday IÂ’ll frequently keep my online course open so that, you know, every two or three hours I can go in and look.Â” Leslie says, Â“I am on a lot during their first test and I give them my phone number because I don't want them to think they are going to fail. I do think nursing prepares you to anticipate something going wrong at any time.Â” Morgan recommends that all online programs provide good technical support before anything else. If IÂ’d started trying to so some of thes e things someplace else that I didn't have that support, I think it could have been fr ustrating, because a lot of people come into distance learning and they know how to use a computer. But thereÂ’s a whole differentÂ…thereÂ’s so many di fferent ways to approach things. Things you can do in a distance learning that you have to l earn those skills and if you don't have that kind of support it can be frus trating, or it could also us e up a lot of your time in that learning curve. When you have the kind of technical supp ort that we have here it shortens your learning curve tr emendously. Because you could pop right up, pop up to the surface very quickly. But if you didn't have that kind of support, you'd spend a lot of time through trial and error and reading an d doing those kinds of things and getting frustrated and frus trating students. And thatÂ’s one of the things that I think is a real important issue. And thatÂ’s another thing is that our students who are dist ance learners get tremendous support too. They get immediat e help and assistance and they can correct their problems without any trouble. And then because it makes that whole
99 process very user friendly and thatÂ’s very important. And if students get frustrated with things itÂ’s going to be a very ne gative experience for them and then it influences your motivation. Well, they don't ha ve to deal with that. If they have a problem they get immediate response. And it really does make a difference. Making sure you have good techni cal support is a biggie. Faculty Collaboration Faculty collaboration an d assistance ensured ongoing support and were keys to success for a number of participants when star ting to teach online. Tyler reports that one of the more technologically savvy colleagues Â“started to do some, to hold some sessions for us, like an education session for us. So that was a way to learn.Â” Ronnie has participated in panels and shared advice at faculty council meetings. Additionally, Ronnie has done Â“consults on other people's websites and web courses and made suggestions and people arrange theirs differently.Â” Joey was id entified by other particip ants at SU2 as the person they go to for assistance. I'm called on to help some of the ot her faculty, which is fine. But it does sometimes get to the point where I got a ton of work and ... and I feel bad for them because itÂ’s an easy thing. But it ta kes me a minute to sit in front of their computer and figure it out. If they would ju st give me access to the course I could do it from my own desk and have it done in a minute. But I want to teach them to do it so they donÂ’t have to keep comi ng asking me. And thatÂ’s the nice thing. They donÂ’t use me like that once theyÂ’ve learned it Â– once they Â’ve seen me do it.
100 TheyÂ’re very good about usually taking it on and doing for themselves and theyÂ’ve actually taught me some things. Though Ronnie has given lots of assistan ce, including sharing existing courses, with new faculty members who are just gett ing started, an experienced colleague will now be taking over one of her classes and pr oviding some evaluation. Â“IÂ’m really looking forward to her input in what she would change Â– what she thinks best. IÂ’ve begun to feel like I sort of teach in a vacuum, so IÂ’m r eally excited about having some meaningful input.Â” Faye is very dependent on her collea gues. Â“I would say that all of the faculty members that know more about the web than I do or more about online teaching than I do are always supportive, you know.Â” Faye, who is relatively new to online teaching, has one particular colleague who provides her with extensive support. Â“I have a colleague here who really should be Webmaster. SheÂ’s really good an d sheÂ’s really patient with those of us who aren't as good as she is.Â” Casey regularly seeks out more experi enced online teachers for guidance and to learn new and innovative methods. Â“Everythi ng IÂ’ve learned was from people that are already doing the stuff that I do. I might integr ate them all in a different way, but thereÂ’s nothing really unique about anyt hing that IÂ’ve done.Â” Casey believes that Â“at any major university like this one, there are people on campus doing some really neat things and youÂ’re only limited by your willingness to contribute time to your courses.Â” Working as a team to develop online courses was discussed by three faculty members. Stacey and Chris work together on mo st assigned tasks. Stacy values the team approach on working out issues together. Â“It n eeds to be a team. It needs to be, if youÂ’re
101 concerned letÂ’s take it back to the group and see what we can do to fix it.Â” Faye describes the time several faculty members collaborate d when teaching different sections of the same class. I have two comrades that teach the same online course and weÂ’ve partnered together to make sure that we were usi ng very similar applications, very similar tools. We all use the same text. So far we have used the same quiz and the same practice calculations for the st udents. So we felt like the three of us together was a stronger group than singly. Most faculty members interviewed reporte d that, when beginning to teach online, they were given an existing course, or, if th ey were early adopters reported giving their courses to those who followed. PatÂ’s first c ourse Â“was a cloned course. And I added my two cents worth.Â” Ronnie states that Â“I kept giving it [the online course] to other section instructors and finally they eliminated me from teaching it. So I don't know where my web course is, all of my lectures and assignm ents and stuff is out there somewhere. Just passed it on.Â” Chris Â“was allowed to look into a class that had been offered the semester before and from that I was able to look and see things that I seemed to like and things that seem to not have worked as well.Â” Ronnie states that Â“there has not been issues with sh aring web content. Being an early producer of it, I give [my classes] awa y. I figure itÂ’s SU2 mate rial basically, they paid me, I give it away.Â” Tony thinks some c onsiderations should be given to the faculty member who created the content.
102 I think there are issues related to ow nership that should be considered. Â“Who develops whatÂ” should be honored in terms of recognizing that it has been developed. What we try and do, or at least what I try and do in my courses, if someone has done a PowerPoint presentation on something and IÂ’m using it or they've done it at a conference and IÂ’ve aske d them to share that with my students. So the course is built over time. So wh ile they may have one faculty member assigned to the course, theyÂ’re getting the benefit of the expert ise of many of our faculty, particularly in the ar eas of research and theory. Summary of Faculty Development and Support The experiences of faculty members pr eparation to teach online and receive ongoing support varied by institution. SU1 wa s the only institution to provide mandatory formal training, though all other universitie s did provide some type of faculty development. Standards, templates, and r ubrics were found to be useful, though a few faculty members resented the lack of free dom the imposition of these guidelines created for their course development. Most faculty members reported being satisfied with the support they received, however, those at SU 4, who chose to use an outside vendor for support, reported having the highest level of technical support among all the participants. All faculty members emphasized the importance of utilizing their peers in helping them to get started or to continue teaching online. Though format training was considered helpful, the informal ongoing guidance of th eir peers or mentors was also seen as necessary. Though this was usually an informal process, one faculty members at SU4 was
103 beginning to fill the role as mentor in a mo re formalized way, and faculty members at SU2 reported that one had been appointed to assist with technical initiatives. Major Theme Two: Faculty Issues and Concerns Many faculty members expressed concern about the efficacy of online education or its implementation and management. The issues discussed here include student evaluations, the effectivene ss of online education, and c oncern over types of content taught online. However, the most frequently mentioned issue, which was mentioned by all faculty members, was the amount of tim e and effort required to teach online. Time and Effort to Teach Online Time and effort to teach online were me ntioned by every single participant, often repeatedly. Time was related to the amount of time it takes to put up an online class as well as the amount of time it took to actually teach the class. The amount of effort required was exacerbated by the class size and demands of students who frequently expected immediate responses at all times. Ray described what teaching face-to -face was like for most nursing faculty members. Â“We, here and most other places IÂ’ve taught in nursing, tend to teach classes three hours once a week so you come in to teach your class and itÂ’s Monday morning from 9 to 12. You get here, you teach, youÂ’re done. You really don't see those people again until next Monday.Â” Tyler po ints out that Â“Going into a classroom is a pain in the neck too, but youÂ’re there and youÂ’re out.Â” Pat thinks that Â“ItÂ’s eas ier for me to teach face-to-face because I have to just talk to them so many hours a week and thatÂ’s it.Â”
104 However, faculty members found that te achng online was considerably more timeconsuming. Before starting to teach online, Gerry ha d been warned by a mentor that it would take three times as long to teach onlin e as it would to teach face-to-face. On campus you can walk in with knowle dge in your head and pull it out when you need it and everybody will learn from that in one move. Everybody hears it, sees it; the whole class benefits at that moment in time. Doing that online is totally different. Three times Â– that is a reasonably accurate assessment, that it takes three times as long to do online as it does to do on-campus. But I get no more credit towards my effort, but it take s me three times as long easily, at least three times. One time-consuming component compri ses designing and building the online course. Even learning how to develop or e nhance your course takes time, explains Tony. Â“The university provides training and workshops Â… but itÂ’s always an issue; itÂ’s a time issue for faculty in terms of learning how to use the tools in the modalities that are available and incorporating that into your cour se on top of all of your other assignments.Â” Taking time to develop the course up front was described by several faculty members like Leslie, as an important factor in successful online teaching. Â“So I think it was really that whole thought process and time content that ha d to be done before the class even began. That was a lot of time.Â” One of the reasons for this, states Terry, is that once the course starts, your time will be spent Â“managing th e class and keeping up the day-to-day and
105 grading papers and such Â… you canÂ’t be deve loping and doing all of that because it will get back to bite you.Â” Tony also voices concern about the time it takes to develop an online course. Â“Developing a course, that should be part of your course assignment because developing the shell is time consuming. To do a good job at it is time consuming.Â” Terry describes the experience and how it impacts her current semester teaching load. There is no built-in time to develop the c ourse. There is no extra time; I have my shells made up for the summer because IÂ’ ll be teaching three web classes in the summer. So therefore, IÂ’m already deve loping them and IÂ’m still teaching this semester and managing a program with 160 students in it. So no, there isn't any release time to develop a course. Leslie, however, believes that, as diffi cult as it is, getting the course done up front, it can save you a lot of time in the futu re. Â“Once you tend to get it going a couple of times, like any other course you do, really, on ce you get it set, you can keep on changing it if you want. But that part is done.Â” Demands of online students can become an issue for many faculty members, according to Leslie. Â“You could be attached to this thing 24/7. Students get very demanding of your time. They just think, well, youÂ’re there at their beck and call, and when you have a large class itÂ’s not fair Â… they think IÂ’m wired in like a Borg to the computer.Â” Students are onlin e, Ray reports, Â“all times of the day and night, every day of the week. Especially with our RN-to-BS population, who are
106 working nurses,Â” and they assume that Â“if they write to you at 9:02 think you should be there to respond at 9:03.Â” Tony also acknowledges that it is Â“a lot mo re time intensiveÂ” to keep up with the demands of students. Â“I email them. I have th readed discussions. I have an icon for each unit of the course for questions, which is ve ry interactive. I have virtual office space where they can go into a live chat with me.Â” Tony tries Â“to set boundaries with students. I try and protect my weekends and so I tell them that I usually post in my courses that IÂ’m not available during the weekends but usuall y thatÂ’s when I have the most time.Â” Students, says Terry, Â“expect continual feedback and expect you to post even on weekends.Â” Even Dale, who is an enthusiast ic proponent of online learning, feels some frustration with meeti ng the student needs. ItÂ’s a lot of work though, because IÂ’m on line twice a day, sometimes three times a day, seven days a week. Sometimes I don't feel like I get much peace from it, rest from it. Even though I say you can reach me normal business hours ... well sometimes people don't know what that is and my cell does go off. Gerry describes studentsÂ’ reactions when responses to their emails are not received as soon as they would like. Â“St udents are angry if th ey donÂ’t get an email response almost like itÂ’s an in stant messenger, certainly within 24 hours. If it goes more than 24 hours, theyÂ’re pretty miffed about it.Â” This is reflected, explains Gerry, in the evaluations that pressure faculty members to feel as if they must respond continuously rather than face bad evaluations. Additional assignments that are necessary to ensure that
107 online students are understanding and particip ating require faculty members to spend more time grading papers, reports Gerry. One of the major reasons for the additional time and effort was related to the size of the classes in the online environment. Pa t tries to teach the live classes the same way as those online; however, class sizes make this more difficult. Â“The biggest thing, because I do try to follow the seven principles is the size classes we have.Â” Terry reports that she has Â“214 students enrolled in my web classes and itÂ’s 1,000/hours a week.Â” Ray teaches a writing-intensive course and reports th at it is Â“capped at, it was 24. ItÂ’s going up to 27, I think, with the budget issues. Something like the pa thophysiology course that IÂ’m teaching in the fall could have probably 50 people in it.Â” Tyler redid the types of assignments given. Â“I don't usually give test s in the graduate courses.Â” However, she made the decision not to assign papers wh en introducing a new course. Â“One million students and it was the first time I was teaching the course and I really didn't want to spend my time with papers.Â” Despite the extr a effort, Ronnie continues to assign papers in her courses. IÂ’ll tell you one thing. They know how to write a paper Â– a scholarly paper Â– by the time they get out of the course. Because faculty members complain about this, and yeah when youÂ’re faced with a class, minimally 30 students, people don't want to assign papers. If they do, they'll assign one paper. Well I assign papers. Tyler is concerned that administration Â“ don't realize its 24/7. So there is kind of a lack of acknowledgement of how time-cons uming it is.Â” This makes it more difficult when students want to get into one of TylerÂ’s classes this is already full. Â“Â… TheyÂ’ve
108 upped our enrollment this semester, so IÂ’m relu ctant to take these new students. So weÂ’re all in a financial crisis so we have to consider it.Â” Admini strationÂ’s tendency to put more students in web classes was an issue also e xpressed by Terry. Â“There is a mentality there that, well, if itÂ’s not a live class then we can put more students in the web classes.Â” Terry further elaborates on her feeling of the disc onnect between administ ration and the reality of the situation. Â“I don't think the mentality in the muckety-muck up there understand. They think, well, you don't have to stand in front of a group and therefore we can dump 50 students in your class, whereas th at same live class would be 30.Â” Ray believes that faculty members cannot just ignore the fact that students, especially nursing students, are working on a different time frame. Â“You can't only check your course on Mondays. Because if the students are there all week you have to be there at a different time too.Â” So to compensate, some faculty members have found solutions, or at least developed philo sophies that help them d eal with the situation. Pat found a more manageable way of dea ling with discussion boards with 50 to 70 students. Â“I put them in groups so itÂ’s easier for them, but itÂ’s also easier for me to grade because it doesn't seem so daunting to go in and read like a 100.Â” Tony and Gerry set boundaries with students by giving them a se t period of time during which they can expect feedback. Leslie also provides strict parameters as to when and how often she will respond. Â“This is when IÂ’m available, this is when IÂ’m going to answer you, this is the appropriate way to do things, and that has made it a lot easier .Â” Joey retrained herself not to provide immediate responses. Â“I have to ad mit when I first started doing this I felt the
109 need to do that. I was compelled to do that. And now when they come in, IÂ’m always fighting it.Â” Joey also discovered that once the class was built it was easier to maintain. Â“I have to admit my health assessment course, wh ile it was a huge course to build, once itÂ’s up thereÂ’s not a whole lot I need to do to it every year.Â” Casey agrees that having the course built, despite the effort, saves time later on. Â“If you do that up front you tend to develop a really good course up front and then you just have to keep it up.Â” Leslie recommends managing your time and the studentsÂ’ time by examining what kind of and how many assignments you give. Â“As much as I want to put online it is there so you have to be aware of how muc h, what is your assignments, how much you can do if youÂ’re going to give them outside th ings to do and sometimes that takes time.Â” Jesse encourages faculty to Â“be assertive a nd attempt not to have huge classes, because when you have huge classes you have to to tally automate it to keep sane.Â” The consequence is that you Â“lose all the benefits of online teaching, which are the interactivity and all those things, really being able to help individual students.Â” Several faculty members seemed to feel that the additional work was just Â“part of the territoryÂ” and were not particularly concer ned about the time and effort it required. Morgan, in fact, doesnÂ’t Â“see teaching at a di stance that much different from face-to-face classroom instruction in terms of the time a nd the work that I put into my teaching.Â” Chris thinks that faculty members need to be open and flexible in this environment because Â“we're not closed because itÂ’s Saturday night at 9 o clock.Â” Stacey wanted to just be there for students whenever they needed something.
110 You got to be a lot more flexible, go into your computer multiple times a day. ThatÂ’s what works for me because sometimes people, they need to know what to know, when they need to know it. So when they need to know it, so when they need to know maybe they need to call me on Saturday night at 9 o clock. And I say, IÂ’m not closed, itÂ’s OK. Because they need to know right now. Because they work crazy shifts and all that. So listen to what theyÂ’re re ally asking you. And be open to be flexible. I think thatÂ’s what you need to do online, more than anything else. Finally, Casey offers this advice and warn ing to potential online faculty members about not expecting it to be easy. Online teaching is a heck of a lot more work than teaching face-to-face. And if you want to teach online because you thi nk itÂ’s easier, and if you do it and it is easier for you, then you probably shoul dnÂ’t be doing it because youÂ’re not developing the kinds of materials that stud ents need to actually learn online. If you have this Â“walk in the parkÂ” idea, I canÂ’t believe their paying me to do it. Online teaching should hurt. It should be painful. Now I donÂ’t mean painful in a bad way, but its a lot of work developing all these materials and developing stuff interactive enough that students are forced to dig into it without knowing theyÂ’re digging into it. Not just trying to me morize things, but using knowledge and applying it and inter acting with their classmates. If youÂ’re not doing that, youÂ’re just not doing the right thing. ThatÂ’s my other big realization was I always thought it would be easier, but itÂ’s a lot more work than I thought it would be.
111 Types of Content Taught Online Several faculty members expressed doubt th at all types of content could be taught equally well online. Gerry stated Â“that there are courses that lend themselves more easily to an online environment than others.Â” Je sse, who is a proponent of hybrid courses, advises looking at educational objectives and determining Â“tha t there are some things that are best taught using an online modality and some things that are best taught live.Â” Ronnie encourages administration Â“to pick the subjects, not just convenience, but pick the subjects youÂ’re going to deliver via the web becau se not everythingÂ’s a fit.Â” However, Ronnie admits that what is not appropriate for online can change based on location. Â“Unless youÂ’re in the middle of M ontana, and you can't get to school in under six hours and all of a sudden we b becomes an OK thing.Â” Whether the course is as good as live, according to Ronnie, depends on the content. Â“You can't deliver clinical via the web.Â” However, there was no agreement between faculty members regarding what type s of content could be taught effectively on the web. Ronnie believes that statistics is one of those courses that does not do well on the web because nurses Â“don't have a co mmon solid foundationÂ”; however, Gerry, who teaches statistics, believes it is one of the few courses that does work well on the web. I think that there are courses that lend themselves more easily to an online environment than others. And I think stat istics is one of those that has the potential to be a much more amenable c ourse to an online environment. Because you can have some of the give and take with the small group discussion boards and still have the learning occur and st atistics can have a yes/no right wrong
112 answer. Then it makes the grading sometimes easier because youÂ’re either right or youÂ’re wrong, and I think it lends it self a little bit more to that. Faye belives that Â“you just canÂ’t re place that live interchange between the students when weÂ’re trying to talk about developing your research question.Â” On the other hand, Pat discovered that her online resear ch students Â“got more out of it because of they had to interact.Â” StudentsÂ’ likes and dislikes come into play, as well as what is successful on the web. According to Ronnie Â“subject matters beca use if itÂ’s a subject that catches the interest of the student, like et hics Â… they like it.Â” However, Ronnie continues with Â“if itÂ’s a subject that theyÂ’re not particularly enthra lled with Â…they, students say, at least several students a semester, IÂ’d much rather have this material in person.Â” Casey, who teaches in the nurse practitioner program, expresses concerns regarding the efficacy of an all-online curriculum for that program. Â“ItÂ’s taken me a while to develop the way I teach online to the point where I think itÂ’s actually somewhat viable. I think itÂ’s a tough proposition to train nurse pr actitioners online, particularly exclusively online.Â” Morgan doubted that some courses could be taught online but had an experience that made her reconsider wh ether her beliefs were valid. I had some notion that there were certai n types of courses, certain types of knowledge that lent itself much more read ily to distance learning than other types. For instance I couldn't imagine and IÂ’m s till not convinced that health assessment can be taught on distance learning, through distance learning. I think that. And yet
113 we have students. In fact I just finished going out to evaluate some of the students whoÂ’ve been taking our advanced health assessment online this semester and was very impressed with their skills. Student Evaluation of Teaching Low student evaluations of online cour ses and faculty were mentioned by six participants. Tony stated that Â“the spots or student perception of teaching evaluations, are lower for the distant moda lities.Â” The belief expressed by Tony and other faculty was that the evaluations are lower Â“because th ey donÂ’t know you as well as they do live.Â” Ronnie describes the phenomenon as Â“that charisma or whatev er of the seasoned teacher that engages the student to come into their world of content and so on and so forth is lost.Â” Response rate was another issue with on line education evalua tions. Tyler stated that they Â“may get three res ponses out of 30 and you get the ones who really love it and someone who really hates it and really kind of skews your results.Â” To try and circumvent this issue, Ronnie gives Â“them this little spiel about, when I know the things coming, this is part of their professional role, professi onal responsibility.Â” She has even Â“tried doing competitiveness with the other sectionsÂ” but has discovered that Â“nothing really works consistently. Sometimes you know when IÂ’ve pu t forth a lot of effort they just don't respond.Â” According to Morgan, at SU3 evaluations are taken very se riously by the provost and this creates concern, particularly for online faculty members who generally have lower evaluations than the tr aditional faculty members. Â“He keeps track of everybody's
114 evaluations and if you fall below a certain poi nt, you're called in for remediation about your instruction. And thatÂ’s face-to-face or distance or anything. The provost is very serious here about your teaching abilities. So he's very serious and we know he's very serious about it.Â” Ronnie reports that if faculty are Â“going up for promotion and tenure, the department chairs I believe are very care ful in terms of whether or not they assign you a distance course because student evaluations generally are lower.Â” To account for the variation, Ronnie has Â“asked for a number of years Â… to take distance courses, web courses, not just the distance, but take the web courses and construct a college mean for the web courses, because it makes a point.Â” Ronnie also describes how one faculty member overcame the issue. We had one faculty member that was going up for tenure and promotion and she taught, actually she taught community nursing at the undergraduate level and those scores, because the same thing [as online classes] students donÂ’t like community they want to poke a tube in somewhere you know, see some results, you know at that level of learning. And so she actually did a little survey of notable community programs and so on a nd so forth and found that yes indeed this was traditional and she got an article out of it plus she put it in her tenure packet and so that just ju stified. You just have to be creative and you know I don't see, IÂ’ve heard some colleagues that grad e easier and they th ink thatÂ’s going to give them ... Well that can backfire on you too because then the students will say to you this is a waste of my time. I worked hard on this. I quit working you know because it didn't matter
115 At GerryÂ’s previous university, an eval uation tool was created that not only gave students more objective criteria but also laid out what was required of online faculty. Students then evaluated faculty on actual perf ormance objectives rather than subjective opinions regarding their teaching ability. The following is GerryÂ’s description of how the committee selected the criteria for one specifi c item that addressed challenges faced by online faculty. What we ended up doing at my previous university was we sort of set up college wide, school wide, expectations not only of the student but also of the faculty. HereÂ’s what faculty as a whole, we expect from students in an online environment. HereÂ’s what students can e xpect from faculty as a whole in an online environment and we were pretty r eally realistic I t hought. With that you can expect to get a response to an em ail or posting within 48 hours during normal school. We didn't say anything about the w eekend. It was the facultyÂ’s time to do what they chose, but we did not put that burden on them. So we ended up doing it that way, so even though they might have gotten someone who is hyper responsive, shall we say, for one semester someone who was a little bit slower to respond the next one. You could structure the evaluati on of every course based on the expectations that you had for the school Did the instructor, how often did the instructor respond within 48 hours of the email, and that sets up the realistic expectation that you communicated to the students. We communicated that expectation to the students so by doi ng that, we also communicated the
116 expectations to the faculty. Just beca use you teach online doesn't mean you donÂ’t have to check it but once a week. It m eans you need to be on it on a regular basis and you need to respond in a timely manner to your students. And you know itÂ’s not like we pulled this number out of the air and we talked to people and we said, is this realistic? And we pretty much got the thumbs up: 24 hours, no way; 72 hours, too long; 2 days? OK we can do that; 48 hours, and weÂ’re pretty cool with that. The students expected that and the f aculty were expected to do that and then there was no problem. Then the evaluations, in that way fa culty could evaluate themselves. So a peer could evaluate a course was very clear; everything was time/date stamped. You could randomly pull 10. Did they respond within a reasonable time frame? And the answers were Â“yesÂ” or Â“no.Â” A nd it was pretty easy to do and you could also see if there was a patte rn of slow response. So a quick response wasn't bad because there was a built-in expectati on for a timeline for responding for both faculty and students and that made it a little bit better. Effectiveness of Online Education Though Tony is a proponent of online edu cation and was key to introducing it to the college, she feels that the lack of Â“data to support that Â… is something I bring up on a regular basis.Â” Tony questions, Â“How are we dete rmining if the quality of education is the same across modalities or at least as high qua lity across modalities?Â” Tony feels that this is something that should be pursued mo re rigorously among nurse educators. Gerry thinks in regard to face-toface education that Â“students enjoy it more than they do online
117 and generally speaking, my face-to -face students get it better.Â” The content and activities, explains Gerry, are the same; however, Â“folks th at are face-to-face get it better. They just get it better. So I have to thi nk that the ability to do that is different and whether thatÂ’s a function of the type of student, that we meet their teaching/learning mode better, or what, I think itÂ’s better.Â” At a previous university, Pat received a grant to study onl ine learning and, though it was a limited study, found that online students were less satisfied but performed higher than students in hybrid classes. The ones that have the hybrid teaching style or format were more satisfied but their performance was lower and my be lief was because everything was caught online. Its not like Â“he said, she saidÂ” ki nd of thing; everything was there. They had discussion postings. Their quizzes were online so there wasnÂ’t anything very subjective; it was much more objective. Emails could be tracked, so that was really interesting. Summary of Faculty Issues and Concerns The single topic most frequently menti oned by all faculty members was related to the time and effort to teach online. Several factors contributed to the increased amount of time to teach online, the amount of time to build the course the demands of students seeking feedback and answers to questions, additional assignments necessary for online students to ensure comprehension, and, finally, cl ass sizes, which tended to be larger than face-to-face classes. Some facu lty members attempted to set boundaries, but others found
118 this difficult to do, acknowledging that nursing students worked different schedules than other types of adult students. Another area of concern to faculty me mbers was the types of content taught online. Some faculty had opposing ideas about what was appropriate for the web. Others felt that there was some content that was actually better on the we b and proposed hybrid models. There was no consensus about types of content that were successful or not on the web, though most agreed that clin ical content should be taugh t in live situations. This concern led to another issue voiced by faculty members over the effectiveness of online education. While some faculty members were adamant about the ineffectiveness, others were not certain and felt th at the research does not suffi ciently show whether online learning is comparable to face-to-face. Student evaluations of le arning were also considered by faculty members. They all addressed the tendency for students to ra te online courses and faculty members lower than students in similar live situations. Seve ral possible reasons for this were given; one was that students felt emboldened by the anon ymity of the web; second, students were not able to know faculty as well and were not influenced by personalities. Several options were offered to remedy the situation. One involved actually having a different mean for distance education courses as opposed to live courses. The other remedy involved creating evaluations that were more objectiv e about the online classes so that faculty were rated on actual performance rather than on subjective opinions.
119 Major Theme Three: Communication in the Online Environment How faculty members communicated with students in the online environment was another theme identified by all participants. Cr eating relationships in online environments was mentioned frequently, and several facu lty members described methods they have implemented that result in better relations hips. Faculty members also expressed concern regarding whether students understood the c oncepts being taught online and how to effectively communicate content in a medium where students and instructors are not faceto-face. Online Relationships Â“How do you get to know your students wh en you canÂ’t see them?Â” is a concern expressed by Ray. It is more difficult, Ray believes, for nurses Â“because we come from a background of working with patients and you wa lk in and real quick make a connection. You can't do that same thing over a co mputer screen. So how do you make that connection?Â” Terry feels, Â“the downfall of having a Web class with a lot of students in it because youÂ’ve never met them face to face.Â” Wi thout a face to put to a name, Terry felt, there was no connection Â“unl ess they email you every day, and we do have some of those.Â” Terry does admit that Â“many of them are very revealing in their postings and you do get to know them somewhat well. But ther e are still what I call the outliers that you don't know; you don't hear from.Â” Ronnie worries about presence in the on line classroom and how Â“Â…I give myself to the students, engage with my teaching personality to engage them in a relationship, learning relationship.Â” Gerry is bothered that someone graduates Â“with essentially my
120 name on their transcript, because they took my classÂ” even though they were never seen by the faculty member. Despite the difficulties and seemingly im possible task of connecting with online students, many faculty members make the effo rt through various means. Tony states that, Â“there is a lot more time-intensive work to stay connected to students in an online format.Â” To make better connections with students, Tony added a virtual office online using Skype. Though Tony reported that, no one has utilized it as yet, Â“there's a lot of discussion about it in the cour se.Â” Mostly, students use the Â“questions area; some people call it a nursing lounge or a cybe r cafe, but essentially itÂ’s a threaded discussion for just an open discussion, as opposed to cont ent-specific threaded discussion.Â” In some cases, faculty members encour age students who ne ed it to drop by the office for face-to-face contact. Jane states that Â“I don't need the face-to-face personally. I understand the studentsÂ’ need for it. Because of that I have fairly liberal drop-in hours. That students can just drop by my office to meet and talk with me if theyÂ’re having issues.Â” A number of faculty members use introduc tions about themselves so that students will know who they are. They require st udents to do likewise. Tyler uses an Â“announcements page where you could welcome st udents, this is who I am, and you put up a whole little biography a bout yourself.Â” Since many of TylerÂ’s students were new to online learning, and Tyler admitted discomfort wi th the environment as well. Â“It created a sense of comfort for them, too. And we cr eated this community of unknowing, I think.Â”
121 Ray tends Â“to know more about some of my online students then I do about my in-class students. Obviously I don't know their face, and they could walk by this door and I wouldnÂ’t know them.Â” Use of an icebreaker that goes beyond a typical introduction seems to help at least reveal studentsÂ’ pers onalities, which helps build relationships. The icebreaker that Ray uses is described below: IÂ’ve got different things: What color are you? What season are you? Where you go? And you take a little five or ten-question quiz, and then it says IÂ’m blue, and blue people are easy-going and mellow and blah, blah, blah. And IÂ’ll say in your introduction, instead of just saying, Â‘Hi IÂ’m Debbie and IÂ’m a nurse who works at XYZ hospital. I practice in this areaÂ’, say Â‘IÂ’m blue. It says I do these things and thatÂ’s really a pretty good mix as to what I do at wor k.Â’ So we sort of mesh that. A number of faculty members report that they come to know their online students as well if not better than th eir face-to-face students. Tony th inks that, Â“you can get to know students very well. ThatÂ’s important from our philosoph ical perspective, coming to know students. And how can I be helpful to you as a faculty member?Â” Tyler states that it is much easier to get to know students in an onl ine class of 40 than in a live class of 60 to 90 students. Â“I get to know them by what theyÂ’ve said about themselves. And you can kind of follow Â… their threads [in online disc ussion boards] are a reflection of who they are, so you can kind of see whoÂ’s saying what. So I feel like I get to know themÂ” even though, Tyler reports, often, Â“graduation is when I meet them face-to-face.Â” Dale also thinks Â“itÂ’s more effective. IÂ’ve had more people reach out to me as an online educator to talk about career issues, career trajectories. IÂ’m saddened to say IÂ’ve
122 even had people divulge some very serious pe rsonal problems.Â” Dale provides an email address, a cell phone number, a nd instant messaging options for students and if Â“theyÂ’re local (because some of my students are not loca l), they can come in and be here to meet Â… I know more about them than when I was in the classroom.Â” Dale has also Â“counseled people making that decision to dr op out or not. More than I ever have in the classroom. I don't think people really ever utilized me that way. They do now.Â” Dale is the only participant who reported havi ng better evaluations online than in the classroom. She attributes this to creating a Â“p resence in the online environment.Â” Morgan says that, Â“what I really love a bout distance learning is I really feel like I get to spend more one-on-one time with each student.Â” Compared to teaching a face-toface class of 104 students, Morgan asks, Â“How I can get that kind of one-to-one opportunity to ask the questions, to do thos e kinds of things with each one of those students that I get to do wh en IÂ’m working distance?Â” Stacey, who admits to liking to talk and being in front of people, was dreading not having that connection with students. Â“However itÂ’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Because theyÂ’re nurses, maybe. They email me. They call me. We have a lot more interaction than I expected.Â” Stacey has di scovered that students Â“are not as cautious about what they say. In a way I kind of lik e that.Â” Students are much more revealing about their personal lives as well. Â“Like when somebodyÂ’s in trouble, theyÂ’ll just be frank with you. TheyÂ’re very candid. My lifeÂ’s falling apart, theyÂ’ll simply tell you.Â”
123 Several faculty members described rec ognizing or being recognized by students they had never met face-to-face. Morgan tells about making clinical visits to students who had been in her classes but whom she had never seen. It was like we had known each other al l along. It was really funny, because in every situation each one of them knew w ho I was. You know, IÂ’d walk into the hospital or the clinic and theyÂ’d say, Â‘Y ouÂ’re Dr. Morgan,Â’ an d it was really fun. We had a real great, I feel like I had a really good, rapport with these students. And, some of them, I hadnÂ’t even seen their pictures, which was a very nice, very comfortable feeling. Chris, who was taking online classes as well as teaching them, had a similar incident recognizing a faculty member with whom sh e had spoken to on the phone and emailed but had never seen. One of my professors in graduate school, I actually had her for a course, and then she was on my thesis committee, so I spent a lot of time back a nd forth with her, emailing and telephoning her, and I never met her. And then what happened, at sigma theta tau was meeting over in New Orleans, but I knew she was going to be there, and I really wanted to meet her. So I drove over to New Orleans for this event and there must have been 150 people in the room, and I could pick her out. I always wanted to test that theory on my other online st udents to see if you put us in a room, could I maybe pick you out, because you do get to know people on a deep and emotional level I think. Particul arly because (your younger students, this is) theyÂ’re emotional ... they'll share thi ngs that you and I were taught not to.
124 Know what IÂ’m saying? So I often wonde r if IÂ’d recognize th ese students; if you were to put them in a room and let me pi ck them out if I c ould do that, because I could find my teacher. Several faculty members stressed the importance of online students developing relationships among themselves as well. Ray calls it Â“hall talk that happens when you give them a break in their three-hour class and they go out there and they all gossip and youÂ’re standing in the classroom and you can sort of hear it.Â” To create this opportunity in the online environment, Ray uses a gene ral discussion board where students can ask questions about assignments or discuss thei r dogs being on insulin. Â“ThereÂ’s a discussion going on right now about registration for the summer and who's taki ng which course and Â‘oh come on do this with us.Â’ ItÂ’s fine.Â” Ray does not get involved. Â“ItÂ’s what they would be doing if they were seeing each other face to face. So let them do it online.Â” Additionally, Ray has students post their assignments to a discussion board so other students may provide feedback. Other students read it and gi ve you feedback as well as IÂ’m reading it and giving you feedback. Now thereÂ’s different kind of feedback in that IÂ’m actually evaluating and putting the gr ade on it. But the other st udents are reading it and saying, Â‘I don't understand what youÂ’re tryi ng to say here, or what about this or what about thatÂ’ or, where I work, becau se lots of our students are practicing nurses in our online courses. We do such and such. But itÂ’s much more of that kind of peer collegiality sort of intera ction that I do in my online courses.
125 Tyler divides students into groups. Â“I kind of have resisted grouping students online, especially in threaded discussi ons. I wanted the whole participation in community, but IÂ’ve decided itÂ’s better to do gr oups. They get to know each other better.Â” Each of the groups would select a movie to view related to the course content, and all the students in the group would then rent and view it individually and then discuss it in their groups. Â“So they have the fun of an experi ence.Â” Stacey also puts students in groups. Â“I put people from all over in one group Â– people who arenÂ’t in the area Â– and theyÂ’ve become the closest group because theyÂ’ve ha d to overcome the geographical challenges.Â” Leslie notes that Â“they are of ten talking with one another at odd hours. TheyÂ’ll go on at 1 a.m. and usually there are other students on at the same time so they connect.Â” Tyler describes how a television special pr ompted her to add an interactive unit to enable students to introduce themselves. I watched this crazy show on TV that was starring John Cleese, I don't know if you know him; he's this crazy guy from Fawlty Towers. And itÂ’s about seeing people face-to-face and how im portant that is. And he was doing like an informal stuff on road rage and that driving al ong in your car with tinted windows and the car in front of you cuts you off, and you really donÂ’t know w ho it is and youÂ’re banging on the horn and screaming out th e window and stuff. As opposed to walking down the street and someone bumps into you but you see them face to face. Iinvariably people say, Â‘oh sorry, pardon me, excuse me,Â’ and move aside. And the whole thing was the importance of our face and who we are and how we're known by our face.
126 So I decided that I wanted my stude nts and myself to put up a picture of who we are. So in the first unit students put up a picture of themselves as well. That way at least we see who it is we'r e talking to. And maybe thereÂ’s technology available but I don't know that it is, but to have a face to come up each time a student responds in a threaded discussion because I see them in the first unit and then I kind of lose sight of who they are. Sometimes I go back to just see who is this person Â… because if I feel I know th em more by face. I think if every time you respond to them their face would come up. Assessing Student Understanding How to ensure that students understand th e content was a concern for participants. Gerry believes that there is just Â“somethi ng about looking a faculty member in the face and either agreeing with what theyÂ’ve said or recognizing that youÂ’re not doing something that they think is importantÂ” that is missing in the online environment. Emails can be deleted or misunderstood and the gestur es and tone in an in structorÂ’s voice cannot be effectively conveyed. Ronnie feels that some of the enj oyment and personal sa tisfaction of the spontaneous dialog is missing in the online environment, and this impacts how well students understand what is being taught. You refine how you deliver material [in f ace-to-face classes] and actually students are amazing. They will come up with examples, you know, that you may never see in a flat medium [online classes] So you do lose something. Do you lose a lot? Probably not. What you lose, I think you lose something faculty members get
127 out of teaching, some personal satisfac tion. You lose some of the studentsÂ’ enjoyment, that dialogue, that exchange, so I think itÂ’s mostly satisfaction thatÂ’s lost. Leslie is concerned that faculty me mbers cannot pick up on body language when answering questions Â– an important element of teaching. Â“Am I getting the answer right or not when IÂ’m talking to someone, that th ey don't understand you, or they need more information, but you don't know unless they tell y ou.Â” Gerry refers to it as Â“the deer in the headlights look in the classroom.Â” Wonderi ng whether students Â“got itÂ” causes Gerry a great deal of frustration. A week would pass, a module would pass; I would see things that would look good. But in the back of my mind was al ways, Â‘but did this person really understand this? Are they really getti ng the material? Because itÂ’s really important that they learn it and because I just couldnÂ’t feel comfortable with that for whatever reason. Whether it was I coul dnÂ’t see their faces or I couldnÂ’t see them doing the work or whatever, my frus tration with that feeling was significant and tense. It stillÂ…I still get frustrated because every now and then you see one or two who crop up where they just really blew it and youÂ’re going like, Â‘I know theyÂ’re not the only ones. ThereÂ’s not ju st two out of 58 that didnÂ’t get this. ThereÂ’s more and I just havenÂ’t found it yet. Who are they and why cant I find them?Â’
128 To address the issue and ensure that stude nts understand the signi ficance of getting the material, Gerry provides something called a frustration policy that students are expected to adhere to prior to assignment due dates. YouÂ’ll see in my syllabus I have a frustrat ion policy built in. This is actually my frustration policy, that I exp ect you to be frustrated with my work. If youÂ’re not, then IÂ’m not doing a good job as your teac her. But my expectation is youÂ’ll be frustrated with graduate work. I never took a graduate class that was just a sleeper for me. They all had areas where they we re frustrating. So I told them, Â‘For 24 hours you have to wrestle with it alone, and at the end of 24 hours you have to ask for help if you haven't resolved it on your own. But you need to develop the skills of solving problems on your own. Reread the material. Look for three online resources, skim Â– whatever you have to. Do that and go from there.Â’ So we build in some of those expectations. So when a student doesn't email me in time, well IÂ’ve been frustrated for three weeks. W hy? I remind them thereÂ’s a frustration policy on my syllabus, it says 24 hours. Why have you been frustrated for three weeks? ... You said everything was cool in February and here we are ready to turn in your final assignment.Â’ Stacey was concerned with students w ho Â“knew the systemÂ” and did not really grasp the information but just used models to make it Â“gorgeous.Â” The system according to Stacey, refers to students who donÂ’t actually read or understand the content but know how to submit assignments that look good in a timely manner. However, Stacey did
129 believe that faculty members can recognize whether students Â“get itÂ” or not without having them in a face-to-face situation. I don't care about gorgeous. I want qualit y. Let me see the Â‘ahaÂ’ come on for you. And you could see that online. IÂ’m amazed. ThatÂ’s something that exceeded my expectations, because I could see it in your face, but I canÂ’t see it in their face. But you can read it When the big Â‘ahaÂ’ comes on. Stacey attributes this ability to Â“having a constant dialog on line.Â” Morgan also feels that students are really challenged by having to provide evidence for statements they make on the discussion boards, but ultimately Â“you see those light bulbs go on. ThatÂ’s what teachingÂ’s all about.Â” Communicating Effectively in the Online Environment Communicating with students online is a concern for many faculty members because, as Gerry says, Â“You can type an ema il and send it to everybody in the class, but itÂ’s never that easy beca use itÂ’s crystal clear when you write it, but evidently it has nine different interpretations when it gets sent in an email.Â” To facilitate understanding, Gerry provides examples of the assignments that st udents are expected to complete. Â“And to see people turn in a draft and it be nothing cl ose to what you were looking for and when you ask them what was going on they tell you that they didn't look at it.Â” Gerry believes this would not happen in a face-to-face class wher e Â“I look people in the eye and say has everyone looked at this and if you havenÂ’t you need to.Â” The lack of group interaction, according to Faye, affects the class dynamics that affect student understanding of the content. Fa ye states that she Â“can think all day longÂ”
130 on an issue that may come up in class, Â“but when youÂ’ve got 30 in a room, there are 30 more ideas than I can think of and 30 more variables and 30 more weaknesses and those types of things so I miss that part.Â” Ronnie tries to communicate regularly with students so that they will be mindful of the content. Â“If I don't hear from them in between assignments, I send them information that would be something from one of my distribution lists or whatever, so I tried to continuously engage them in whatÂ’s going on.Â” Tyler struggles with clarification of content. Â“They kind of struggle with quest ions about whatÂ’s real ly required and how much do I need to do and whatÂ’s this paper r eally like.Â” To address this, Tyler, like most of her colleagues at SU4, sets up an informal discussion board. Â“Stude nts can get in there and ask questions of just anyone and the stude nts can answer Â… So thatÂ’s helped clarify with the syllabus questions and the assignment questions.Â” Despite a belief that there is no subs titute for face-to-face communication, Dale has created a variety of ways to circumve nt the problem. Creating redundancy is one method, providing Â“opportunities for students to be able to ask questions every which way.Â” Dale provides a virtual method for students to Â“come up to your desk, meet you at in the hallway, on the online platform Â… you create a class lounge. Up north we called them cyber space cafes.Â” Dale also creat es a discussion thread for every major assignment. Additionally, Dale posts Â“a document that will help them be successful in the online environment. It really pulls together what we're talking about.Â” It is a timeconsuming process and is customized Â“to each c ourse so they always have that document to refer to what would be success.Â” Dale states that students Â“need to know that thatÂ’s the
131 rules of engagement. So we have to be more careful to articulate the rules of educational engagement in our classroom.Â” Multiple questio ns about an assignment also indicate to Dale that instructions werenÂ’t clear and n eed to be revised in subsequent classes. Chris thinks feedback Â“is even more critic al in an online class than it is in a faceto-face class because they know theyÂ’re going to see you in a face-to-face class. Chris tries to give lots of feedback. Â“Probably more to my online students than I actually do to my traditional students. Formal feedback I should say.Â” Ronnie uses the technology to ensure accurate and timely feedback though it did require some time and effort to learn how to use the tools. Well, you have to because of the softwa re platform. You download it to your computer in order to track changes. I used to download them, hand grade them, and then Xerox them, so I kept a copy and then IÂ’d mail them to the students who weren't on campus. What a time consuming th ing. But it was a real skill that I had to develop in order to do track changes and actually my service work where IÂ’m looking at bylaws, IÂ’m looking at policie s for different organizations, I began using the track changes for that purpose a nd then thought, Â’This is silly. This is a waste of trees, you know. IÂ’ll do the track changes with th e students.Â’ And thatÂ’s turned out well. They get their papers in a timely manner. I know theyÂ’re delivered and IÂ’ve got a copy on file. I th row them away the next year, but IÂ’ve got a copy. If the student calls me, then IÂ’ve got the paper right in front of me. ItÂ’s a real evolution, the technology.
132 Summary of Communicating in the Online Environment Creating relationships with students in the online environment was deemed as impossible by some, while others reported crea ting even closer relationships and getting to know students even better th an in face-to-face situations. Th is was partially because of the numbers of students but was also attri buted to the fact th at students are more forthcoming about their lives and faculty members see more responses from online students than they do in their face-to-face classes. Faculty members did also worry about whether students actually understood the content and assignments that were online. Reading body language was listed as an important factor that was missing when teach ing online. However, some faculty members felt that they were able to see whet her students got the content online by ongoing dialogue that connected them to the studentsÂ’ thoughts. To ensure that students are getting all th eir questions answered and that they have an understanding of the content, faculty have initiated a system in which a variety of students communicate with one another. Faculty members re port utilizing the technology to provide multiple methods of communication for students and to provide feedback on assignments in a timely, efficient manner. Faculty members also emphasize the importance of ensuring that instructions and assignments are written in precise language that does not require interpretation for students to understand what is expected. Major Theme Four: Teaching in the Online Environment Teaching in the online environment presen ted challenges to most faculty members as they had to find new ways to present mate rial they had been teaching for years. Many
133 identified themselves as facilitators of learning and discussed how this impacted their online teaching methods. They also described innovative methods they used to teach online. Results for the sub-theme Online Teaching Methods came primarily from the interview question that asked part icipants how they taught online. Faculty as Facilitators of Learning emerged from faculty descriptions of their online teaching experience. Online Teaching Methods PowerPoint is a tool used by many of the faculty members in creating online lessons. Leslie explained that Â“we do PowerP oints with voice over, which are the Â‘quoteÂ’ lecture content, but the majority of the work is really within the assignment and reading material as well as completing a project or an assignment.Â” Tony presents content using PowerPoint slides but changes them for onlin e presentation. Â“So in my PowerPoints, for example, I will include video links and audio links and web links that they can use to support some of the content that IÂ’m trying to get across to them.Â” Tony was planning on using authoring software to enhance the Po werPoint slides, Â“where you add narration for the PowerPoint, you record your lecture with the PowerPoint. What it does is shrink it so it can open more quickly online.Â” Gerry does not use PowerPoint or any other multi-media presentation tool; instead, she presents all content on PDFs becau se, Â“I have zero technology issues with PDFs. Everybody can open them; they can make them as big as they want to, they can print or save them. They can do whatever they want to with them.Â” Gerry utilizes this method rather than any others since particip ating in a one-year fellowship that studied online education.
134 We looked at multi-mode teaching, differe nt teaching learning styles. How do you accommodate with different teaching, lear ning styles in an online environment? One of the interesting pieces that came out that we saw was that, more often than not, when students were given the option fo r having a script for the content, they wanted to be able to download the script read it at their convenience, print it up, and take it with them and read it where th ey wanted to. They didn't want to be tied to the computer to watch something for tw o hours. They wanted a script and they could go and they could do it. I tend to Â– most of my online teaching is based on that philosophy. Not all faculty members agree with GerryÂ’s philosophy. Jesse advises online faculty to Â“look for ways to optimize the e xperience Â… it shouldnÂ’t be an old fashioned correspondence course.Â” Assigning readings a nd tests to students does not provide a sufficient, satisfactory learning experience. Â“You couldÂ’ve mailed it to them except youÂ’re giving it to them electronically. So it n eeds to be interactive. So you want to go out and start using some of that stuff th atÂ’s out there.Â” The importance of including interactivity in online courses became evident to Ray after teaching he r first online class. Â“After I did it that first time, itÂ’s like this is not the right way to do this. Lets go back and start over and develop content thatÂ’s more interactive that keeps the students more engaged.Â” Since that first time, Ray has inco rporated activities that require students to Â“look for information in areas that theyÂ’re inte rested in that might not necessarily be my topical area, but itÂ’s theirs. And therefore it becomes more productive to the end user in terms of what they can do with it afterwards.Â”
135 Other faculty members found creative methods that were not Â“high-techÂ” but that they felt kept students engaged in the onlin e class. Terry posts controversial current events. Â“I put that on the discussion board. And I pose some very probing questions about that.Â” Terry reports that stude nts log on frequently just to see where the controversy is heading. Tyler likes the idea of giving student s some visuals that de pict what they are reading about. Tyler has students read a book for a multicultural class and then includes discussions of the readings as well as pictures Â“so they coul d just get a vision of who are these people of the book that we're talking about.Â” Some faculty members repor t that they had already be gun using methods in their face-to-face classes that translated easily into the online environment. Casey states that Â“very early on I started to sort of modulari ze my teaching.Â” To complement the modules, Casey started Â“taping every word that I say and posting it onlineÂ” in order to Â“preserve classroom time for things like test reviews. Additionally, Casey creates folders with lecture notes and audiovisuals of topics, emphasizing those that students traditionally stru ggle with. Â“IÂ’ll have actual tapes of the different murmurs, of the di fferent murmurs that IÂ’ve r ecorded with an electronic stethoscope in clinic over the years.Â” Casey also carries Â“a di gital camera to clinical with me. I still practice. And over the years IÂ’ve taken many hundreds of patients not identifying kinds of pictures, and I like to use those in class and kind of work through cases.Â” One issue that some faculty members di scussed is the tend ency to assign too much material to online students. Leslie reports that as a re sult of her own experience as
136 an online student, as well as being a parent of online students, Â“I got really protective about how much homework I gave or how much assignments.Â” It is easy to Â“send them to different web pages and go here jog there, and it becomes extremely time consuming for the students.Â” So Leslie encourages faculty to be protective of studentsÂ’ time because Â“it could be really easy to overload them w ith assignments and quizzes and Â‘read web pages and do all these other th ings and come back and read your bookÂ’.Â” Instead, Leslie tries to make the assignments manageable by focusi ng on fewer, more meaningful assignments. Â“Just more or less applying what they studied so I knew they were getting the general terms.Â” There are also quizzes that call for s hort answers that are relevant and not what Leslie calls Â“jerk work,Â” which entails Â“just quoting from the bookÂ”. StaceyÂ’s biggest objection when starting to teach online was the rigidity of the discussion boards in some of the existing co urses. Faculty members required students to write in the discussion boards as if they were turning in an APA formatted document. In an online clinical course de signed and taught by Stacy, the di scussions boards were used for students to describe their home visits. Â“So itÂ’s not all this brai niac work, and itÂ’s not graded on spelling, and it doesn't have to be re ferenced and all this kind of ric rac. But they do have to do a group project. ItÂ’s a big major paper, so itÂ’s st ill quite a lot of work, but they enjoyed it.Â” Dale does Â“case studies online, especia lly if I want the st udents to apply the knowledge.Â” Dale assigns a group project to online students. We do some fairly sophisticated case studies. I can easily do group projects. Usually my community health course is a four credit course and they do a very
137 complicated community cultural population assessment in groups because thereÂ’s a lot of writing in the course. I have them do it via PowerPoint with very specific instructions what they need to demo nstrate. So I could do it through document sharing. But I always have a discussion th read. The students need to go back and look at x amount of them and not only do they have to talk about what they've learned, they need to have active discu ssions with someone else and ask some poignant questions about the other culture or whatever it was. So I always, I usually with a major project I usually have some way in the online environment to have discussion. In the classroom how many times have you done group presentations, and we don't even encourage discussion of them. The other thing that I do too, and I had just started to do this at my previous university, was th ere should be a peer eval uation with group discussions. And I make sure that I have peer evaluati ons in the online environment, especially within the group and equate that as a small percen tage of the group project because I really like to know what pe ople thought about other people's roles. Several faculty members created assign ments that got students out into the community. Terry sends community and womenÂ’ s health online students on Â“field trips.Â” For example, in womenÂ’s health Â“they all have to go to a local drug store and they have to bring back information on three different contraceptions sold over the counter.Â” Then students are required to discuss their experien ces and new information they gained from the trip. Additionally, they must visit an agen cy that provides womenÂ’s services. Â“It can be an abortion clinic, a fertili ty clinic, an ob/gyn, a health department. They have to go
138 physically face-to-face, have an interview, and they have to have it dripping with adjectives.Â” In another cour se, students have to Â“inter view someone with a chronic disease, whether it be arthritis, lupus, or diabetes. And they have to include that interview on the discussion board and people comment on it. So everyone learns about everyone elseÂ’s disease.Â” Sometimes the person interviewed is the student themselves and they report on how the disease impacts Â“their emotio nal life, their spiritua l life, their physical life. How much do they spend on medications?Â” Ronnie, who teaches nursing management courses, also had an assignment that encouraged students to go on Â“field tr ipsÂ” and interact with the community. My assignments for web I tried to think of projects that they had to go out and interview somebody. They had to go out a nd do something. They could not just be attached to a computer and meet the co mputer. I made them, by virtue of their assignment, go out and interview nurses, interview nurse managers. One of the assignments is to do a comparison of the medical staff organi zation chart to the nursing staff organization ch art and draw some conclu sions about that. That forced them to go talk to other disciplines, other than nursing. Some activities donÂ’t always work as we ll in practice as they do in theory, as reported by Leslie whose first online c ourse included both pathophysiology and pharmacology. What I would do is set up the disease pr ocess, so I would set up a case study so they had different types of drugs and then a case study that they would have to work up about the drugs and the mechanis m and action. It was really good but it
139 didn't work as well as I wanted it to ma inly because what I did. We have big classes so I figured I had groups, and IÂ’d give a case to each group and each group would post the answers back and then everybody would read everybody elseÂ’s so you would get five times the amount of information. And I was really good about different scenarios and how to apply it until I realized nobody was reading it except me. So Â… group a b c d would post but nobody from f would go back and see what group a was doing, so it became a learning curve for them that you need to go back and look at someone elseÂ’s postings. Sometimes they go too long. So actually it became like a management; How do you get them to answer questions? Some groups would put too much in it a nd nobody would want to read that much; some would put too little and it wasn't re ally a good learning, so it became a lot of work and not a lot of positive feedback. It worked in theory really well. I think the student management of it, and this was their first online course and we hadn't worked out the kinks. To deal with skills that cannot be tau ght online, Casey does a blended course to teach clinical procedures. Â“They have a numbe r of modules that they have to complete. Then they take a test and, assuming they pass everything, they come up here, we put them up in a hotel at our expense using thei r online fee that they pay.Â” On campus they learn to do Â“suture and splint and do biopsies and things.Â” It gives faculty an opportunity to Â“make sure theyÂ’re actually real people th at theyÂ’re somewhat competent.Â” During this time, faculty also tries to Â“have them do th eir check offs for their advanced health
140 assessment course too. Then after that they go into a clinical rotation and then from then on out each semester we visit them wherever they are in their clinical rotations.Â” Faculty members have various opinions about whether teaching online was different or the same as teaching face-to-f ace, and, though most thought there were some differences, the degree of those differences varied by individual faculty member. Ray finds teaching online to be very different. Â“Somebody asked me Â… could I teach research in the classroom. And I said no because IÂ’d ha ve to prep a whole new class. I can't just take my online stuff and walk into the classr oom for three hours a week.Â” Ray admits to using lecture as her primary method of teach ing in live classes, while her online classes utilize discussion boards. Gerry also says that the Â“teaching methods are dramatically different from live.Â” The ability to change methods at a momentÂ’s notice to address student needs is missing, according to Gerry. Â“I n the live class I ha ve the ability to change the teaching method on the fly. I can go from a PowerPoint to pulling up the screen and drawing on the board because I can see the PowerPoints are not cutting it with the students, so I can dramatically change it.Â” Gerry describes how the spontaneity is missing from the online courses and the ability to use some of the techniques, such as collaboration, that are successful in live classes. Ronnie also believes that the methods ar e different and describes what she would do in a classroom if she needed to change methods at a momentÂ’s notice. Â“I could put them in a group, I could observe behaviors, we did gamesÂ….Â” However, unlike Gerry, she found alternatives. Â“Â… and I couldnÂ’t do that on the web so it forced me to be
141 innovative. I think it was just a different way, not better or worse, it made the web threedimensional.Â” A very few faculty members disagree that teaching methods are distinctly different on the web. Leslie co ntends that the teaching Â“m ethod tends to be similar, whether live or online.Â” As an example, Leslie talks about the importance of the discussion questions, which were used in th e live class to keep students engaged during three-hour lectures. The same discussion que stions are used in online classes to supplement the lecture notes and the readi ngs. Â“Where online I like putting out the questions that they have to answer. So it is kind of bringing them into, engaging them into, the class.Â” Pat also uses Â“some of th e same teaching methods online that I do with live, with having the most up-to-date info rmation, providing the resources, making sure everything is pleasing whether it is slides or your pages here online.Â” A few faculty members found teaching on line to be different; however, after developing the skills to teach online, they now believe that those methods should be used in face-to-face classes. After teaching online, Morgan finds that it has altered the way that she teaches face-to-face and her earlier opini on, that they were different, has been changed as she has begun to use online teaching methods for teaching live classes. When I first came here, I thought they would be different. I found now, after doing the distance courses and IÂ’ve had the opportunity to teach, for instance, I taught undergraduate health assessment last spring, that the thi ngs I have learned from distance learning affect the way I te ach face-to-face. ItÂ’s changed my whole way that I think and approach students in the classroom. Completely changed.
142 Because I virtually forced myself, at firs t. Say you're going to design this face-toface course and youÂ’re not going to lecture. YouÂ’re not going to lecture anymore. So how are you going to do it? I think the distance learning has changed the way I teach face-to-face. I think itÂ’s had a big difference. Faculty as Facilitators of Learning Dale feels that as an online educator Â“you must be a facil itator. You must see yourself that way or you won't do really well in that environment.Â” Leslie also sees the online instructor role as being Â“more of a f acilitator.Â” Particularly when teaching graduate students. Â“IÂ’ll help you learn. I try to emphasize to graduates th at they are in charge of their learning.Â” Pat stated that Â“I saw myself as being the facilitat or and the person that could be the resource and I tell them from the beginni ng you are really teaching the course to each other.Â” Pat compares the onl ine teaching experience to the face-to-face classes: IÂ’m there to be your guide, to be your res ource, to be your faci litator, to help put you in the right direction, to help get you an article to critique, that you might not be able to find. So I tell them that's my role, where in the faceto-face I assume all the roles and the more you take from them the less youÂ’re going to do. Tyler acknowledges that adult students all bring expertise to the course so Â“each of us is learning and teaching simultaneously.Â” Tyler believes this Â“egalitarian type of teaching methodÂ” can be done from the classroo m or online.Â” Jesse thinks that the faculty members Â“who would be the major naysayers, which are very few, are probably still people who believe that if the student is not physically sitting in front of you, there is
143 something wrong with the student Somehow them Â‘being in a room when IÂ’m talkingÂ’ is magic.Â” Ray explains that Â“things change so fast in probably any profession that you always have to be learning new things.Â” Once nursing students graduate, they will need to learn new techniques, new medications, and they will no longer have access to the university library or be able to refer to th e text book. Online learning helps them learn to decide Â“which ones are good sources that we believe versus somebody deciding that weÂ’re the expert on this topic.Â” Ray thinks, Â“Some of that translates more to the rest of their life and their career s and their profession.Â” Tony describes structuring discussion questions to facilitate learning. Â“What I have started doing is kind of coaching the students to engage each other in deeper thinking about the content.Â” To facilitate in creased student interac tion, Tony has Â“started using group leaders. I divide my course into groups because we will have 30-60 students in an online course.Â” Group leaders are re quired to post early a nd encourage questions. I found that that really helps to engage people and to move away from answering the question. The idea is not to answer the question the idea is to explore the content as opposed to a right or wrong an swer to a question. A nd I also find that, when I respond to the students, they think then the discussion becomes a discussion between students and me. When student leaders run the discussion, itÂ’s a group discussion, as opposed to answeri ng the way they think I want them to answer.
144 Dale also utilizes Â“small group discussions Â” to facilitate studentsÂ’ learning. The learning platform also permits Dale to pr ovide Â“direct continuous feedback to my students and I think thatÂ’s one thing they need is to be a community of learning and to encourage that active learning.Â” Knowing when to facilitate and when to teach is something that concerns Stacey. Â“Facilitation versus the teaching moment is a biggie Â… You donÂ’t just react to everything give an answer.Â” This is true particularly in discussion boards. Â“Things will come up in discussion boards that you really want to ge t in and teach. On the other hand, is this the moment when I can facilitate a nd encourage them to dig a lit tle harder and find and put it together, synthesize it themselves?Â” Tyler has found the online environment to be more participative. Â“YouÂ’re not up there lecturing.Â” Instead, the most important teaching method is the threaded discussion. Â“I can see where their thinking is and prompt and, you know, sort of direct their thinking in another way or just enhance what theyÂ’re already thinking.Â” After having taught online, Dale feels that face-to-face teaching would be, and should be, different. Â“I would never be the Â“sage on the stag eÂ” ever again. I don't think I could run a classroom by just lecturing from a PowerPoint, with heads just kind of like droning like this. I don't think I could do it. Â” Dale describes how many of the online methods, such as small group discussions, sh aring clinical experi ences, and debates, could be modified for the classroom. I kind of wish maybe I should go back to the classroom now because my class would be transformed. I wouldn't recogni ze myself. I wouldnÂ’t recognize myself.
145 I wouldn't be up there lecturi ng with a PowerPoint for tw o hours. I am a facilitator of learning. Summary of Teaching in the Online Environment In this theme, faculty described how they taught online students. Through recommendations or trial and error, many ha d found unique ways to deliver the content. Some felt that they had already begun prepar ing to teach online in their face-to-face classes and were able to translate those t echniques to their online classes. Table 4 presents a list of some of the methods th at faculty members re ported using to teach online. There were varying opinions as to th e differences or similarities to face-to-face teaching and only a minority of respondents we re adamant that one was better than the other. Some faculty members felt that teach ing online had changed how they taught or would teach face-to-face courses, indicati ng they would want to include more interactivity and less lecturi ng. Many of the faculty member s now identified themselves as facilitators of learning or described activities that exemplified facilitation. The importance of students taking responsibility fo r their own learning was seen as necessary, not only as online learners, but as nurses who need to know how to continue learning long after their formal e ducation has concluded.
146 Table 4 Online Teaching Methods Class Discussions Set up discussions board for students to post their essays. Other students, as well as faculty members, can read the essays and give feedback. Set up discussion groups and match student s according to their specialty area to support each other as they identify resear ch questions. For example, if the topic area is acute care and the in structor only knows basic acute care, there may be others in the acute care setting, working th ere, so they can be more supportive than the instructor with details. Post a current event weekly Â– a controve rsial current event Â– and pose some very probing questions a bout that event. Set up discussion boards to complement clin ical home visits. Focus on the cultural perspective or the values st udents brought into the relati onship, versus the clients. ItÂ’s not graded on spelling, and it doe sn't have to be referenced. Assign students to read a book on a particular culture (such as The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Dow, by Anne Fadiman) and discu ss the book. Include pictures of the region and people of Laos. Multimedia Incorporate video, audio, and Web links to support PowerPoints. Use programs such as Impatica to record narration and to make file size manageable.
147 Table 4 (Continued) Incorporate audio files of the different s ounds, such as murmurs recorded with an electronic stethoscope. Students can hear the murmur, and click on another audio file and hear the instructor talking about the murmur. Carry a digital camera to clinical prac tice and take photos of patients, not identifying kinds of pictures, and use those in class and work through cases. Group Projects Do a group community cultural population a ssessment via PowerPoint with very specific instructions concerning what they need to demonstrate. Students look at x number of presentations and discuss what they've learned. Include a peer evaluation. Assign groups to a movie and popcorn. Each group chooses a movie that clearly depicts a cultural phenomenon and discusses it in their group. Field Trips Assign students in womenÂ’s health class to go to a local drug store and bring back information on three different contraceptions sold over the counter Students report on prices and analyze their experiences, answering the following questions: What did they encounter? What did people around them do? How did they feel when they walked in? Assign students in womenÂ’s health class to go to an agency that has womenÂ’s
148 services. It can be an abortion clinic, a fertility clinic, an ob/gyn, or the health department, they have to have an interview, and they have to have it dripping with adjectives. How many parking spaces were there? What was across the street? How many trees did they see, and what kind were they? When they walked into the building, what color were the walls? How many chairs were in the waiting room? What was the name of their receptionist? Assign students to do a comp arison of the medical staff organization chart to the nursing staff organization chart and draw some conclusions about that. Assign students to interview someone with a chronic disease, such as arthritis, lupus, or diabetes. They should include th at interview on the discussion board and have people comment on it. WhatÂ’s the im pact on their subjectÂ’s emotional life, their spiritual life, a nd their physical life? Ho w much do they spend on medications? (Students can interview themse lves, if they have a chronic disease. This provides insight from other studentsÂ’ perspectives about chronic diseases in women.) Assessment Utilize case studies that apply what partic ipants studied, to validate that they understand the general terms and pr inciples from the readings. Present weekly quizzes that pertain to cont ent that students are assigned to read. Weekly Summaries/Directions
149 Table 4 (Continued) Present a weekly video so that students see a visual of the instructor. Each week the videos introduce what to expect for the w eek. These are not pre-recorded, so if the instructor sees a lot of pr oblems with a particular a ssignment, or a question on a case study or quiz that doesnÂ’t work very we ll, the video can describe the issue. Post a summary of the week and point out what was accomplished and where some ideas need to be enhanced. PDFs Place all the content for each module in PDF form. There are no technology issues with PDFs. Everybody can open them, they can make them as big as they want to, and they can print or save them. Include alternate teaching examples, but essentially everything is in one format. Type out class lectures in a script, so th at it is easy to present step by step. For example: hereÂ’s a t test, hereÂ’s regression, hereÂ’s a chi square; walk through the process step by step. Turn it into a PDF and put it online for students to read. Major Theme 5: Advantages of Online Education Despite issues with online education, over half the faculty members interviewed identified advantages that they had discovere d when teaching online. Most of these they had not anticipated. Advantages that emerge d from the conversati ons included schedule
150 flexibility and increased participation by st udents. A few faculty member also listed additional advantages relate d to creativity, scholarship, and increasing enrollment. Increased Student Participation Over half of the participants specifically mention that the online environment provided more opportunities for student participa tion greater than that of the face-to-face classroom. There were several reasons given for this, but the most predominant were related to the security of Â“hiding behindÂ” a computer and an inability of students to participate as they are able to do in a face-to-face situation, pa rticularly a large class. Ray, who had been an online student prior to be ginning to teach online, talked about her experience with students in the online classroom: ThereÂ’s that security piece and I actually get a little too active sometimes on the discussions of my students. I intenti onally say IÂ’m not responding yet. Somebody else has to respond first. But I just think itÂ’s a different, itÂ’s a certain sense of security being behind my computer screen versus sitting in a room with 20, 50 people, whatever. Tony talks about students who are quieter. Â“You can really engage them more than you can in a class.Â” She compares this to the classroom where Â“you'll get one or two people that dominate the discus sion and you can't get away with that in an online format. Everybody must participate and you must part icipate with substa nce.Â” According to Tyler, this format may also give those st udents who dominate a break. Â“Everyone gets a voice, and I kind of feel that the people feel like compelled in a classroom to shine can also take a sort of backward seat at this. So I think it levels the st udent participation.Â” Not
151 being prepared for class is no longer an option, according to Ray. Â“Everybody has to do all the work. You can't sit in the classroom with 50 people and go in the back corner today because you know that you didn't read the book and hope that everybody talks a lot because the discussion gets graded by Â’Did you participate?Â’ Â” For those who feel that in teraction is important, Morgan states Â“thatÂ’s an almost given in a distance course but not necessar ily in a classroom w ith 104 or 200 students.Â” Pat also talks about large class sizes and th e inability to successf ully monitor all the students: Face-to-face accelerated are 60, and basic st udents are 120. I feel interactions are the most important thing. And in a class that size even though I walk around and try to get students to take part and I do group things as much as I can, itÂ’s very difficult to get the larger groups to do any kind of interaction. And you tend to worry about the ones. WeÂ’ve had an issue with laptops. Are they really on the page at task? Â– Or that ki nd of thing. Where online I th ink you can do a better job. Because students are required to interact, Ray believes that, Â“it can result in more learning, better learning, because they have to do the activities there in that course.Â” Tyler feels that, Â“its more participative in online, to tell you the truth. You know youÂ’re not up there lecturing away.Â” This pa rticipation enables Tyler to Â“see where their thinking is and prompt and you know sort of direct their thi nking in another way or just enhance what theyÂ’re already thinking. So they Â’re really getting the meaning.Â” Leslie also thinks that, Â“students are learning a little bit better. This is not Â“sign in, sign out.Â” You can't hide.Â” Leslie explains that, Â“we can keep track of them here: how many times youÂ’re on, how
152 many times you answer. So you can't hide. So it Â’s a big learning curve for them and for us.Â” Pat likes Â“the interaction that I see with the students Â– the wealth of what I see them delve into and respond and answer with their own research, so to speak.Â” Compared with the face-to-face class, Â“I think the st udents that took the online got more out of it because of they had to interact.Â” Pat e xplains the differences when students learn passively as compared to th e interaction in the online: In the face-to-face one, th ey can put their learning responsibility on me as opposed to them and they make me responsible. When they don't learn something, you know itÂ’s that whole thing that Â“you didn't tell me th at.Â” Well, itÂ’s in your book. It doesn't matter you di dn't tell me that so how do you expect me to know that. Because my face-to-face students do not have to do discussion postings. ItÂ’s supposed to be a dialogue between me and th em, and itÂ’s not that way. It could be something IÂ’m doing wrong, but I hear that from a number of faculty. So I think the online component is more work on them more work on me. ItÂ’s more work on me. They have to stay on task as I do, but they get more out of it where the faceto-face its probably easier because itÂ’s a more passive learning style than the active participant that the online is. Jesse describes doing Â“these case study disc ussions that are difficult to do in the live classroom.Â” Jesse discovered that Â“you c ould get all that kind of discussion going and that allows in-depth discussion of a lot of stuff that is very difficult to do in a classroom. Its problem-based learning. And the web actually really enhances that, and so
153 that's much better.Â” Jesse discusses the in creased productivity th at she has found since utilizing the online tools: The ability to interact indi vidually with the students and so thatÂ’s ... you have the opportunity to do it (online). In a classroom even if you do interactive activities in a classroom you can't engage all 50 in the room at the same time. But if I do case studies in which all 50 must participat e and then I get to see the participation types of writing that all 50 people are doing and IÂ’m able to give them some degree of feedback minimally on the grading rubric that they got all the points or they didn't get all the points and they di dn't get it because they didn't discuss very much. So IÂ’m able to do that and you can 't do that as well in a room with 50 unless you don't really teach unless youÂ’re just sitting making checkmarks every time Sally said something, which, I donÂ’t think, is productive. And I think that helped me see what could happen from the discussions, which is one of the greatest parts of teaching online. You canÂ…you have the potential to engage everyone in the room to actually get them involved. The ability to address controversial issues was another advantage for online discussions given by Ronnie. She told a group of colleagues that ethics was not one of the classes that should go online, but her colleague s disagreed, so she ret hought the situation. I thought about the class that erupted one time over the abortion issue when I had a lot of nurse midwifery students and I ha d a bunch of acute care nurses in there and they felt another way and literally I thought it was going to come to blows in that class. And I thought, well you know this class, this ethics Web class, they
154 may be right. It may be that ethics, because people have such strong feelings about the content, that nu mber one, it separates them physically, and they could actually say what they wanted to say on the web. Schedule Flexibility Being able to work anytime from anywhe re was identified as a plus for faculty members. Ray responded to faculty members who complained about additional time and effort by stating that, Â“Yeah it takes me more time, but itÂ’s on my schedule.Â” Pat also commented on the additional work factor: You could pose the argument that it is more work, but then you could look at it the other way and say but its self-directed and self-pace d, so I can do that at my speed in my pajamas at three o clock in the morning. So, all in all, itÂ’s probably easier to teach online because I could put it in my schedule the way I want to. The schedule flexibility enabled faculty to attend conferences, meetings or even take vacations. Ray stated that, Â“I don't have to worry about, Â‘Well, is that conference planned on the day IÂ’m supposed to teach cl ass?Â’ You work around whateverÂ’s going on in your life.Â” Leslie appreciat ed the latitude provided by th e flexible schedule. Â“I have been out of city, out of state; I can be somewhere else and still get my teaching done.Â” Tyler, who travels every summer to Africa to t each, stated that, Â“One of the things I like about it in particular is to be able to trav el and still get online wherever youÂ’re at and be online with students from all over the world.Â” Ronnie is active in a number of national and state nursing organizations and felt the schedule provided flexibility for meetings throughout the country. Â“So that if I was in Washington, or Orlando, or Tampa or
155 wherever I was, I could sit there and communi cate with my students. So over time it just evolved and it works out fine.Â” In addition to travel, several faculty members liked the ability to work on scholarship activities. Ray offered that sh e felt it was a Â“time management issue. I personally like it because I stay home many days and I can work on my scholarship and my writing things and teach my course.Â” Jo ey reported that by teaching online, Â“I finished my DNP, I did three presentati ons. I got a journal article published.Â” Research was also an important factor in schedule flexibility. Casey, who is involved in a complex, long-term re search project, stated that: The kind of research I do kind of requires me to be in the lab supervising graduate students. It is nice not to be chained to a particular time of day when class would occur so, in a way, that helps me because I am freer than I used to be to do work in my lab instead of doing work in the classroom. So I basically displaced my teaching workload to late at night and I can do my research and everything else. The ability to work at all hours and no t have to drive into the university was mentioned as a feature that was positive fo r both faculty members and students. Faye thinks Â“probably for the student s not having to drive, saving them money from driving or moving or that sort of thing is a huge bene fit.Â” Ronnie reported th at putting all core courses online enabled students to more efficiently schedule their clinical times. Several faculty members reported that they met up with their students late at night. Â“I like to work late at night, so I can be on the computer gr ading things. Some of the students are on the
156 computer at the same time; we can talk; we chat; we can do discussion boards; many things.Â” Several universities offer re duced seating time courses th at are partially online in order to reduce time spent commuting to campus. Stacey and Chris, who teach at a satellite campus, were involved in setti ng up a reduced-seat time program for students who were a long distance away from the satellite campus. (Chris) We had a campus at some distance. And the first semester we started up there, we realized that the students were, in spite of the fact that we were up there, they were still coming 40 and 50 miles to class from these little towns. And they were coming out two or three nights a wee k. So we first started by saying, Â‘How would you feel if we stacked your classes? You can stay longer we start earlier, stay longer, but you'd only ha ve to come one night a week. And then I said, we're on our sixteenth week of multicultural and I feel like I have beat it to death. And said how can we do this different. And th en we started researching it and found out about hybrid, blended, and that actual ly there were some hybrid classes going on at SU3 at the main campus, and there was a lot of literature coming out about it. (Stacey) I hate this. I mean IÂ’m talking about the changes in an older person's skin. TheyÂ’re sitting there going to sleep falling out of their chair. ThereÂ’s not enough to talk about, it would be so mu ch more valuable. And we started brainstorming and of course she and I communicate really well. We've been so lucky to have each other.
157 (Chris) ItÂ’s worked really well for recrui tment, and I think for retention. We have a very high graduation percentage of students who start with us. Other Miscellaneous Advantages There were several other advantages listed by a few faculty member that are mentioned here because they seemed to be significant to the indi viduals who addressed them. They include creativity, increasing enrollm ent, and advancing the field of nursing. Four faculty members mentioned the oppor tunity to be more creative as an advantage to online education. T ony found that it could Â“be a lo t of fun. There are a lot of creative things that you can do in online format s that you can't do in other formats.Â” Faye and Joey also made similar remarks about the format. Joey, who is one of the more computer-literate participants sa id that she Â“found that I coul d be very creative in the way that I presented the material and I liked the technology and I liked learning HTMLÂ” Jesse also found that it Â“allowed me to be highly cr eative.Â” Jesse described utilizing the course content for portfolios submitted for awards. Â“I was able to give some really nice illustrations of stuff, of what I've done.Â” Gerry and Stacey both identified the ab ility to increase enrollment in nursing programs as another factor. Gerry addressed the issue of the economy and competition. Â“There are a handfull of places that donÂ’t do online, but theyÂ’re shrinking because of competition. And as the economy gets tougher itÂ’s even going to get more.Â” Gerry then describes how universities look at competitors and try and provide similar options. Â“I canÂ’t tell you how many faculty meeti ngs start off with USF has dropped this
158 requirement; if weÂ’re going to compete we have to drop it too.Â” Stacey also addressed the need to increase students in the nurse prac titioner program and the decision to go online: The university has a good name so itÂ’s very saleable and our ability to maintain the kind of graduate FTE we need locally is very limited, because this is a small town. Its not a big town like Tampa where thereÂ’s a fairly large workforce to draw from. So using online education allows us to pull people in from all over the state weÂ’ve not otherwise been able to access. Scholarship and advancement of the fiel d of nursing were also mentioned by two faculty members who came from SU4. Tony ta lks about the opportuni ty to utilize her work in online education: I also think that you can incorporate some of the other things that you do into your online work. For example, I mentioned earlier that IÂ’m in a faculty learning council so my development of myself as an educator has taken kind of a direction towards distance learning because I do so much of it. So thatÂ’s one area for my own development and for my service where I can incorporate that. I have done some publication in that area so, for my scholarship, itÂ’s not my main area of research but as an educator we have an obligation to do resear ch in the area of education. Finally, Dale states her belief that, in order to advance th e field of nursing, educators need to embrace distance learning. Â“WeÂ’re going to get people into nursing and progress their careers within nurse education or lead them from undergraduate to RN to BSN to graduate even RN to PhDÂ”.
159 Summary of Advantages to Online Education Despite the time and effort that is imposed on faculty members who teach online, many felt there were some benefits both fo r them and for students. Students were significantly more participative online than they were in live course s. Use of discussion boards and tracking enabled faculty members to ensure that students contributed to dialogues offered online. In live courses, f aculty members reported that students could hide and not contribute, and in particularly large classes there wa s no effective way to ensure that all students participated. Another factor that facu lty members liked was the schedule flexibility. Because they were not tied to certain dates and times that they had to be present, they were able to participate in conferences, professional meeti ngs, and other activities. They also felt this provided a benefit to students who were no longer required to dr ive into campus or manipulate work schedules. A few other be nefits were mentioned by several faculty. These included opportunities for creativity, sc holarly work, and the ability to increase enrollments. Major Theme Six: Students in the Online Environment Faculty members felt that students in the online environment were somehow different, or at least behaved differently, from their face-t o-face peers. They described certain student attributes th at were prevalent among onlin e students and teaching methods that were specifically utilized to address some of the challenges then encountered. Cheating and learning styles were mentione d by only a few participants and addressed how they dealt with or ignored the impact of both these issues.
160 Attributes of Online Students Many faculty members believe that not all students are a goo d fit for the online environment. Â“ItÂ’s a fallacyÂ”, states Ray, Â“that we think everybody should be able to teach in all these different modalities equally well or that all students can learn in these modalities equally well.Â” Casey reiterates the belief that, Â“there are some people who just arenÂ’t cut out for online. Whereas IÂ’ve never had the feeling Â… I neve r had the feeling in a classroom setting, boy you know this person is not right for the cl assroom.Â” According to Casey it has nothing to do with age. Though younger students are better at technology, they Â“donÂ’t have the experience, the cognitive schema in their skull to do this stuff.Â” Casey believes that about online education is not for Â“5 to 10 percentÂ” of the people.Â” Jesse also emphasizes that not all student s have the ability to learn well in an online environment. Jesse recommends web mediated courses as an option to fully online courses. Â“What you could do is some activit ies online which optimizes that mode of learning for that content for that objectives. And then use the face-to-face time for stuff that you can't do as well in the online environment.Â” Ray feels that sometimes faculty memb ers who blame a studentÂ’s performance on the online class are using that as an excuse rather than acknowledging that the student may just not be a good learner. Ray thinks that the student who lacks self-discipline in the online environment is Â“the same person who pr obably looks at the clock at 8 a.m., rolls over and goes back to sleep, and misses their 9:00 class.Â” Some faculty members were concerned w ith the lack of depth seen in online students. Tyler describes how the class she i nherited consisted of detailed lectures and
161 readings. However, she reorganized the content because, Â“I know theyÂ’re used to PowerPointsÂ” and felt that they were not put ting the time into the readings, entirely missing the points they needed to learn. Leslie also report s that online students tend to skim material Â“so its not the depth I want.Â” Joey, who had been an online student, was eager to utilize some of th e interactive methods used in her online program but was disappointed with the outcome. I found that all they wanted was a lect ure and their assignments, you know their readings. So that part of if has been very disappointingÂ…What we do to force them to do the online content is we have weekly quizzes. ThatÂ’s the only way we can make them do the readings, watch any le ctures, visit the websites to listen to heart sounds. ThereÂ’s videos. They look at the exam being done. But unless we have the quiz there, they wonÂ’t do it. StaceyÂ’s experience is that students l earn a system that enables them to get through online courses without doing any actual work but by delivering the material in a way that appears to have all the components. They are then able to use their skill to succeed in online classes without getting any depth. In a class with students who were getting ready to graduate, as well as some beginners, there was an issue with fairness Â“because the people who were getting ready to graduate had learned the system and so their performance was up here.Â” Accordi ng to Stacey Â“leaders emerge online.Â” They'll come on and say, Â‘Let me help you,Â’ and I can read exactly how they [the student leaders] can tell th em. ThatÂ’s how I knew that somebody was on to how to
162 beat the system. Keep a calendar, do this on Thursday night. They got it down pat; they know all the rules. But the leaders emerge. Rudeness has been an issue for several faculty members such as Leslie, who reported that students Â“feel anonymous and, not being known, they just feel they can say what they want.Â” Dale Â“occasionally sees that [rudeness] and I will tell you I will nip that right in the bud.Â” Upon seeing this behavior, Dale sends a private email that usually stops the incident. Jesse talks about students who ar e Â“not the most polite critic of things, and also some students whoÂ’ve been kind of, th eyÂ’ve let me know where their issues have been.Â” Joey also reports experiences w ith rudeness in the online classroom: Here, the students have no qualms about being rude about saying what they truly feel in terms of complaints and that kind of stuff, havi ng bitch sessions among themselves on the discussion boards. So theyÂ’re complaining about ... you certainly donÂ’t get that in the classroom. Motivation and self-directedness were mentioned by faculty as an important attribute for online learners. Pat states that Â“t hey have to be motivat ed to stay on task.Â” Pat opens all her course ma terial Â“from the beginning because I think these are independent learners. TheyÂ’re self-paced.Â” Joey st ates that students need to be prepared to take online classes. Â“Who want to do it? Who are motivated to do it? You know, have the maturity and the time management skills need ed to do it. And if you do I find itÂ’s a very productive way of learning.Â” Casey identifies lack of motivation as one of the reasons online learning is not for everyone. Â“There are just some people who are not self motivated enough.Â” The other
163 reason for failure, states Casey, is fear. Â“The re are people who also donÂ’t have the right constitution; theyÂ’re always so nervous that theyÂ’re missing something that they are just a big bundle of nerves the whole time theyÂ’re in it .Â” In order to alleviate student anxiety, Casey produces a weekly video to: Tell them whatÂ’s going on and itÂ’s not some thing I prerecord. So if I see a lot of problems with a particular assignment, if I put in a stinky qu estion on a case study that didnÂ’t work very well, I'll tell them it didnÂ’t work and IÂ’ll tell them why and apologize and say I fixed it. But its sort of folksy and I kind of go through and tell them what's going on each week to calm those people. Pat also posts Â“a summary of the week and points out what we've done and where some ideas need to be enhanced and that kind of thing.Â” This is done weekly unless something is wrong that needs immediate attention, then she posts as soon as possible to alleviate student anxiety. Ronnie sometimes gets frustrated with studentsÂ’ inability to juggle all their responsibilities and expect that the class requirements will be adjusted. Ronnie describes some of the comments she gets from stude nts: Â“DonÂ’t you understand IÂ’m busy? IÂ’ve got all these other things, and IÂ’v e got a family too. And youÂ’re just grading too harshly. The other section theyÂ’re not bei ng graded this harshly. TheyÂ’re not being asked to do all this.Â” Gerry reports that students get frustrated with what they perceive as additional time spent online; that is, they believe they are doing more work than their face-to-face counterparts.
164 There are more assignments online. I us e more assignments online because IÂ’m grading the discussion. IÂ’m not always grading the partic ipation in the classroom, you know when students are here. Disc ussion boards. There are individual assignments rather than just group assi gnments and I think in terms of the individual assignments those are probably the same that I would use both in the classroom as well as in an online forum. I think its the fact that the online feels like theyÂ’re doing more. You know, some st udents want it online because they think itÂ’s going to be easier, but in fact I think itÂ’s harder and itÂ’s more timeconsuming for them and for me because I've got more to grade. They get very frustrated and upset by that. Joey also reported that students complain about how time-consuming assignments could be. Â“School is second or third or even fourth on their list. So when you start introducing anything thatÂ’s going to take up their time, they start to rebel and th ey get very upset by it.Â” Joey compares current students to those wo rked with in the past at another university: ItÂ’s just a very bizarre di fferentiation between students that IÂ’ve worked with in the past and students that I worked with here. And I don't know that itÂ’s really geographic, I think itÂ’s just a different generation you know the millenials vs. the gen xers and that kind of thing. You know IÂ’ve had very competitive students in the past who worked to show up someone el se, and I like that ki nd of spirit. I like competition. But students here coul d care less, so itÂ’s discouraging. According to Morgan, online students e xpress a need for structure. Providing rigorous requirements helps them to succeed as online learners. Â“ThereÂ’s a tremendous
165 amount of rigor [in MorganÂ’s classes]. I don't to lerate people turning in papers late. If I say the discussion board is supposed to be up by Sunday at midnight, if not itÂ’s a 0.Â” This rigor requires them to perform at a certain level and have cl ear expectations about what they need to accomplish in an online class. Student Learning Styles Incorporating student learning styles in to online courses is something, according to Tony, that instructors must be Â“more awar e ofÂ” than in a live course. Â“Because [in a live course] you kind of do that automatically, you have things to present and they can hear you.Â” Jesse likes the way in which online learning can enable the student to Â“learn different things in different ways.Â” Recognizing the unique l earning styles of students can Â“help me demand of the studentsÂ’ brain that they actually use the content in a way that was honestly difficult/impossible in the classroom.Â” Gerry, however, does not believe that the time and expense to address multiple learning styles is particularly efficient. Why am I not doing a video and an audio and a script because people learn in different ways? IÂ’m a different learner. I learn better with the hands-on reading so I need to have that option av ailable to me. Well, IÂ’m an auditory learner I need to have the audio, or IÂ’m a visual learner I need to see it. Why donÂ’t we have all three, its easy to do, right? No its incr edibly time-consuming and expensive and, but I think the pressureÂ’s th ere in the online world to be entertaining, to be as good as a TV program or a really good webs ite, and I think the pressureÂ’s there to be better than the programs that you think are your competitions.
166 The other thing is: Show me a school of nursing that does a teaching learning assessment for their students when they ente r and then caters to the students based on their teaching/learning style. I challenge you to find a single one that even does it, so in the absence of doing a teaching/le arning evaluation to really best meet the teaching/learning styles of the students in the class, youÂ’re ei ther relegated to doing one and saying IÂ’m going to play it by ear based on the feedback on the one or IÂ’m going do eight and theyÂ’re bound to find one that works well. Doing eight is not timeor cost-effective in my opinion. Student Cheating Gerry stated concerns about not kno wing who was actually logging in to the course. Â“All I know is itÂ’s someone using th at login. IÂ’d posted something, I have no idea if itÂ’s this student who di d it, I donÂ’t know if they ma stered the content.Â” A few participants did mention methods in place to circumvent any potential cheating. Ray relies on the content management system suppor t staff to ensure that students follows protocol if something goes wrong with their ex am. For example, if a student says that she was unable to access the test or was thrown out, the student is expected to call for support. If the student reports to Ray that sh e did do that and was still unable to finish, Ray will contact the support desk. Â”Denise sa id she tried to contact you on Wednesday and you couldnÂ’t help her. Could you please c onfirm that?Â”And they'll look and say, Â”We never heard from Denise,Â” and IÂ’ll say, Â“Tha nk you very much. ThatÂ’s what I suspected.Â” The support staff can also provide faculty me mbers with detailed l ogs of student access times. Â“It automatically times out at 45 mi nutes. So if I look at somebody who IÂ’ve got
167 concerns about and they have a whole lot of 45 minute session s, I think that maybe they just logged in and walked away.Â” Terry says that Â“all of my exams are essay: the final exam, the midterm exam. That reduces any cheating.Â” Terry also gives a writing assignment where students go into community agencies and report on their expe riences and give extensive details on the physical surroundings. Â“When you walked into the building what co lor were the walls? How many chairs were in the waiting room? Wh at was the name of their receptionist? In other words they can't fake it because I know the agencies.Â” Casey reported giving a lot of online te sts that students we re required to pass before doing their clinical rotations. Several colleagues had also broached the subject so Casey did an analysis: Regarding cheating. I was also saying th eyÂ’re not doing a very good job of it. I give the tests and randomize and put a ti me limit on them and so theyÂ’re random, time limited, they see one question at a time, and I allow them backtracking and I find that works very well. IÂ’ve actua lly gone through and done little simple PearsonÂ’s correlations between my case study grades and the test grades and theyÂ’re right on. Summary of Students in the Online Environment Faculty reported that students in the online environment behaved differently from face-to-face students and, consequently, had different needs and demands. There were also attributes that were necessary for stude nts to have in the online environment that were not necessarily important to face-toface students. Faculty members looked for
168 techniques that would address some of the i ssues, such as lack of motivation and anxiety. Two themes that were mentioned by only a few faculty members involved cheating and learning styles Though several faculty members felt that learning styles should be considered in designing online courses, one faculty member expressed an opinion that designing for multiple learning styles is a waste of resources. Cheating was barely mentioned and one faculty member actually di d a study that indicated very little, if any, cheating was going on. Other faculty members reso rted to essay tests to ensure students did not cheat. Summary The goal of this chapter was to compose a composite textural description of the experiences of nursing faculty members who have transitioned to the online environment. Some of the identified themes were addr essed based on direct questioning, and some emerged as part of the conversations that ensued. The issue that all faculty members addressed, and addressed most frequently, was the time and effort it takes to teach online (n = 70). Participants addressed this in refe rence to not only the act ual development of the course, but also the time to teach the course Included in the discus sion was the lack of time that faculty members then had to particip ate in other activities, such as training and development. Other faculty members were concerned how the time necessary to teach online would impact their ability to do rese arch and other scholarly pursuits deemed necessary to the role of faculty. The next most frequently addressed issue was faculty preparation for online teaching (n=52). As this was a question posed by the researcher as pa rt of the interview
169 protocol, it is not surprising th at this was mentioned so ofte n. Faculty described available options at each of the universities. SU1 o ffers an extensive mandatory program that incorporates assistance from other colleges. The importance of mentors was addressed frequently and a number of faculty members id entified this as the method they used to learn online teaching. One question that was altered slightly in order to get more information was the final question which asked faculty members to address any other thoughts. Instead, I included a question that as ked them to give advice to new faculty members. What do they wish they had known before starting to teach online? It was through this question that many faculty member s described the importance of mentoring. The ability to have relationships with students in an online environment was also frequently mentioned by faculty members (n=5 1). Some were concerned with the fact that students were evaluated by them but had never been seen. Others felt that without a face there was something lacking, which inhibi ted the ability for a relationship to take place. However, quite a few faculty members felt that their relationships with online students were much greater than they had ever had with students in face-to-face classes. Faculty members attributed this to the use of biographies and the studentsÂ’ seeming lack of inhibition, which enabled them to sh are deeply personal thoughts and feelings. Finding different methods to make the information interactive and engaging to students was frequently described by partic ipants. Creative ways of presenting the material, as well as field tr ips, were among the methods utilized. However, the most frequently mentioned tool in online teach ing was the use of the discussion board. Discussions were seen as valuable in terms of teaching, communicating with, and
170 building relationships with online students. One faculty member was only concerned with the efficiency of the content delivery and eschewed use of multi-media. Another faculty member had been very creative; however, stud ent lack of interest discouraged further development in that area. Though faculty members, either th rough prompting or through ensuing discussion, mentioned the same themes, ther e was frequent disagreement, as in the example listed in the previous paragraph. Th ere were differing opini ons offered regarding the value of the university-provided training and resources. In addition to questioning the efficacy of the training, some felt that ade quate time was not given for attending the training sessions. Faculty members also expresse d different opinions as to what types of content they believed could be taught succes sfully online. Specific types of course content were named by various faculty memb ers as being Â“not effectiveÂ” or Â“very effective.Â” Though most felt the time and effort were significantly greater, many enjoyed the flexibility the online environment provided them Some even stated that it was worth the extra time to have that flexibility. Also, while some attempted to set very strict boundaries as to when and how often they w ould respond to students, several felt that they needed to be available 24/7 in order to encourage students who were struggling. Since most of the students taught by the indi viduals in this study ar e working adults, the need for providing support was thought to be especially important, and this was attributed to the types of hours most nurses work.
171 Despite the fact that one of the univers ities had recently been involved in a much publicized cheating scandal, th is did not seem to be a major issue among most faculty members. Only three mentioned it in passing, and the one faculty member who was directly questioned about it did not belie ve that it was a significant issue. Peer Review of Data In order to provide some measure of inte rnal validity for this study, six peers were requested to review at least one of the tran scripts and verify the themes identified. Peer review consists of the researcher dissemina ting interpretations and conclusions to peers not directly related to th e research but who are familiar with the phenomenon being investigated (Johnson & Christensen, 2004). P eer reviewers A, B, C, and D are all nursing faculty members. Three hold PhDs in nursing and the fourth is currently working on a PhD in Nursing Education. Peer reviewer E is a doctoral candidate in education and currently works as an instruc tional designer. Peer reviewer F holds a PhD in Adult and Continuing Education. Peer reviewers A, B, C, and D were each given a transcript from one of the colleges and a list of 17 sub-themes that included definitions of the sub-themes. They were asked to check whether the sub-themes we re present in the transcript they had to review. Since they were only looking at one transcript, it was not assumed that all subthemes would be present. Reviewers E and F were each given two transcripts and asked to list any themes they identified in the transc ripts. The results of re viewers A, B, C, and D are presented in Table 5, which lists the sc hool transcript they re viewed, the number of
172 sub-themes they found, and comments, if app licable. The peer reviewers confirmed that most, or all, of the themes identified could be located in the transcript they reviewed. Table 5 Peer Reviewer Confirmation of Themes Peer Reviewer School Number of Sub-themes (n=17) Comments A SU1 14 n/a B SU2 Reviewer did not return item C SU3 17 Recommended one additional theme: Overcoming skepticism D SU4 12 n/a Peer reviewers E and F were tasked with identifying themes for the two transcripts they each reviewed. Peer reviewer E reviewed transcripts from SU1 and SU4, and peer reviewer F reviewed transcripts fr om SU2 and SU3. Each provided a list of quotations from the transcripts identifying specif ic quotes that identified themes. A table was created, each quotation was analyzed, a nd a corresponding sub-theme from this study (as shown in table 3), was assigned to each quot e. Several themes were not related to the phenomenon and were eliminated from analysis. The table was then sorted by sub-themes and unique instances of each theme were count ed. Results showed that 16 out of the 17 sub-themes were identified by the peer review ers; the only sub-theme not mentioned was cheating. Additionally, only one new theme wa s identified by the reviewers but was not
173 included in this study becau se the theme did not recu r among any of the other participants.
174 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION, CONC LUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS Without an adequate understanding of th e role of the online educator, nursing faculty members who transition to online t eaching are too often ill-prepared for the experience, and this could adversely impact student outcomes. The purpose of this study is to apply phenomenological research strate gies to examine the experiences of nursing faculty members who transitioned from faceto-face classroom to online teaching and to analyze their reported experiences for eviden ce of transformative learning. The intention is to develop a rich, thick portrait of the part icipantsÂ’ experiences to gain greater insight into how faculty members perceive their role in the online environment and to determine whether there were significant differences fr om their role as classroom teachers. For purposes of this study, Â“online nursing facu ltyÂ” refers to full or part-time faculty members in a university-based nursing pr ogram who having begun their career in classroom teaching and have taught online for at least one year. Research Questions The following research questions provide the guiding framework for this study: 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty members in transitioning from live face-toface classroom to online teaching? 2. What assumptions did nursing faculty member s hold about the role of faculty in online education prior to their initial experience in online teaching?
175 3. What experiences related to online t eaching may have challenged nursing faculty membersÂ’ perceptions of the role of faculty? 4. To what degree did institutional support and infrastructure impact faculty membersÂ’ experiences? 5. Based on the framework of transformative learning, what evidence of transformation can be identified through an analysis of the experiences described by nursing faculty members? The participants for this study were nu rsing faculty members who taught in online programs at one of four large Florida pub lic universities. Upon approval from each universityÂ’s IRB, as well as permission from each college of nursingsÂ’ dean, participants were solicited through emails and phone calls based on recommendations from colleagues. Only two persons contacted were not able to participate due to location, though both offered to reschedule or particip ate by phone. All interviews took place at the participantsÂ’ location, usually thei r office or a nearby conference room. Two interviews were conducted at pub lic facilities. Eight of the pa rticipants were located on the main campus of the university, and eight were at satellite campuses. An interview protocol, a request for curri culum vita, and a course syllabus were emailed to each participant prior to the inte rview. The purpose of obtaining these artifacts was to gain demographic information, incl uding educational background and types of courses taught, about the partic ipants. Copies of the syllab i enabled me to review the teaching methods described in the interviews.
176 Transcriptions for the interviews were analyzed and coded for themes. Most of the themes that emerged were identified in the literature revi ew. Six independent reviewers were recruited to validate the th emes. Four of the revi ewers indicated their concurrence of the themes I identified, and tw o analyzed the data to identify themes, which were then compared to those identifie d. A composite textural description of each theme appears in chapter 4. This chapter wi ll provide a discussion of each major theme identified in chapter 4. Following the discus sion, the conclusion is presented as answers to the research questions. Implications for practice are presented following the conclusion. Finally, recommendations for further research are identified. Discussion Six major themes were identified through the analysis. This section will discuss the meaning and the essence of those themes. Major Theme One: Faculty Development and Support Most faculty members for this study repor ted that they were assigned to teach online rather than choosing to teach online. For many this was a disorienting dilemma because, as identified in the literature, faculty members w ho are considered experts in their fields may discover that they are novices in technology compared to their students, consequently, changing the traditional teacher -student relationship (Diekelmann et al., 1998; Hartman et al., 2007). Once told they were going to teach online, most faculty members were pro-active in developing their ex pertise, whether it was in seeking mentors or signing up for internal or external classes. Instruct ors surveyed by Sloan-C (n.d.) reported that they are satisfied with the online teaching experience if institutional
177 supports such as infrastructure, training, a nd technical support are in place. Only one university had a formal online course developm ent program all faculty were required to attend regardless of their loca tion on the main or satellite campuses. The course was lauded by one of the participants, who was th e only one without a PhD and the only one located at a satellite campus. Ot hers at SU1 were ambivalent, stating that some parts were helpful but that the course did not go far e nough in other areas, such as technical handson training. The other universities offered various classes and attendan ce was optional. Two faculty members had obtained online teaching certifications from institutions outside the universities, four members re ported opportunities for extensive online training at their previous places of employment. Faculty memb ers at the satellite campuses for three of the universities all reported having to travel to participate in the faculty development courses, which was not always possible. Occasionally, courses were offered on the satellite campuses, but this was not c onsistent or as fr equent as needed. In this study only three faculty member s, Gerry, Faye, and Joey, reported being dissatisfied with the experience of online teaching. Gerry had a firm conviction that online education was inherently inadequate as a medium; also. GerryÂ’s previous university had provided much more extensiv e preparation and support. Faye and Joey both taught at a satellite campus. Faye was one of the least experienced online faculty members in this study and reported relying mostly on colleagues for training and support, as development was offered only on the main campus, which was two hours away. Joey, like Gerry, had received extensive developm ent opportunities at a pr evious institution,
178 but the lack of support at SU2 left her f eeling discouraged. Though Ronnie, who was also at the SU2 satellite campus, had a more posi tive attitude, she had received extensive training prior to beginning to teach online. As there were no faculty members interviewed who were located on SU2Â’s main campus, it is difficult to ascertain whether support in general was inadequate. Regardless of the availab ility of classes provided by the university, the informal method of using mentors and colleagues in getting started and in providing ongoing support was considered most important by al most all faculty members in developing online teaching skills. Diekelmann, Schuster, and Nosek (1998) refer to Â“decentralizingÂ” teacher control as new types of relationships with students are developed and as faculty members must collaborate with other facu lty, technical support, and instructional designers when developing and delivering onlin e courses. Faculty members in this study reported relying on a variety of Â“partnersÂ” when developing and teaching their online courses, but ultimately, most indicated that they turned to their colleagues for support. Additionally, when asked how did they de veloped their online course, many reported having taken over or gotten a c opy of a colleagueÂ’s course. F aculty members stated that giving content to other faculty was not an i ssue: Â“They paid me [to develop the online course], I give it away.Â” Faculty at SU 4 were the only ones that mentioned the importance of giving credit to the faculty member who created it; otherwise, faculty at other universities frequently shared existi ng courses. Despite SU1Â’s extensive formal training, faculty members still looked to collea gues for input as to what were ultimately the most effective methods to use when teaching online. Terry described the way she
179 goes back every semester to the course that is taught by instructional designers to offer advice. Â“IÂ’m one of their Web "vets" and ever y semester I go back to the class and make a presentation to them. They have three We b vets that come back and, you know, kind of enlighten those and they ask us questions, as we're credible I suppos e as opposed to the instructors.Â” Three other faculty members at SU1 also talk about faculty listservs and faculty mentoring as their preferred resources for help. Casey, at SU3, reported actively seeking exemplars throughout the campus to learn how they effectively teach online. Faculty members Â– particularly those at the satellite campuses Â– reported relying on each other for assistance. Though this was usually an informal arrangement involving individual faculty members seeking the he lp of colleagues, one faculty described mentoring as one of her roles. Another facu lty member was concerned because the time spent helping colleagues often interfered with her schedule. Assistance came in the form of asking someone for technical help, allo wing faculty members to copy an existing course, attending faculty led seminars, a nd co-teaching with an experienced online teacher. Additionally, some faculty member s reported seeking out the best online teachers throughout the university a nd asking for their guidance. Frese (2006) reported that, though 74% of faculty members surveyed stated that having a mentor was important, only 15% had one. In this study, all faculty indicated the importance of having a mentor or colleague to guide them in teaching online. This was described as actually having someone particip ate in their class, someone (preferably a colleague) to refer to for questions, or even the ability to look at previously taught courses for ideas on how to proceed. Two f aculty members reported they were very
180 active in the role of mentor /support, one by choice and the other by necessity. Dale at SU4 worked as a mentor to faculty beginning to teach online and consid ered this part of her assignment. Joey, at SU2, was the most technically savvy faculty member at the satellite campus. She reported that though she was glad to help faculty members, it often took up a large amount of her time. Particip ants all felt that g ood technology support and training were important, but mo st would have preferred a me ntor or colleague who had similar experiences to their ow n to provide that guidance. Several faculty members mentioned using templates and rubrics and reported how efficient these tools were in the developmen t of their courses. One faculty member who utilized a template reported developing Â“a fully online course myself and did it in a week and it really wasn't hard w ith the use of templates.Â” Ot hers, however, resented the restrictions placed on faculty due to the standards designated by the university or college. Major Theme Two: Faculty Issues and Concerns Though most of the faculty members repor ted that they liked teaching online, there were still concerns and issues. These concerns and issues were consistent across all four universities. The time and effort to teach online was a concern voiced repeatedly by every participant. Studies have show n that, while faculty members reported being satisfied with the experience of teaching online, they still rated their lack of time to develop the course as one of the low points (Christianson et al ., 2002). Most frequently cited issues were time to develop the course student demands and large class sizes Some of the problems
181 related to student demands were due to the fa ct that these students are nurses who work 12-hour shifts, nights and weekends. That the time and effort was a challenge was expressed even by faculty members who held online education in high regard. Primar ily, this was due to th e needs of students and was consistent with the literature show ing that all nursing faculty members surveyed by Ryan et al. (2005) indicated that students expected communication within 48 hours. In this study, though 48 hours was frequently menti oned as a standard that faculty members aspire to, many student s wanted even more rapid response. One participant compared what they wanted as closer to Â“instant messaging.Â” Another factor was that the time to develop the course was signifi cantly more than that required to develop a comparable face-to-face class (Christianson et al., 2002). Additionaly, faculty members were required to prepare for subsequent semesters while sti ll teaching in the current one. This concurs with the literature re porting that students expect to communicate continuously with faculty through electron ic resources and that faculty me mbers are expected to provide interactive learning experiences utilizing the latest technol ogies, consequently, requiring them to alter the ways they are used to teaching and communicating with students (Hartman et al., 2007). However, in most cas es, faculty members stated that once the course was in place it was relatively easy to maintain. Many faculty members indicated that th ey did change what they thought about time and what they considered to be norma l business hours and familiar ways of working. This concurs with a study of nursing faculty at the University of Wi sconsin, that reported as faculty members began teaching online, they found the experience disrupted schedules
182 that they had been used to for many y ears (Diekelmann et al., 1998). As a group, SU3 faculty seemed the most accepting and least troubled by the issue. This includes Stacey who only had one year of experience teaching online. Whether this reflects opinions of the individual faculty members who participat ed in this study or the entire university would be difficult to ascertai n. Also, none of the SU3 faculty reported class sizes being an issue. Casey, in fact, emphasized that teaching online was more difficult and, if it wasnÂ’t, then you were probably doing somethi ng wrong; another felt that it was vital to be available to students when they need you the most. The need for administrative support wa s expressed by most or all faculty interviewed in multiple studies, including this one (Gammill, 2004; Johnson, 2008; Ryan et al., 2004; Schwarzman, 2007). Administrators frequently believe that faculty members can manage larger numbers of students in online courses. Faculty at all institutions, except SU3, reported increasing the numbers of students in their classes and seemed to think that administrators were unaware of th e issues caused by this move. Ronnie stated that faculty members should fight to maintain their cl ass sizes, but others, such as Tyler, seemed to feel it was a result of the economy and looked for new ways to deliver content to larger groups of students. Another concern expressed by many facu lty members was the inappropriateness of some content that was being taught online. Ot her studies also indicate that faculty fear being required to teach online courses in area s that are not appropria te for online delivery (Gammill, 2004). However, there was no consensus as to what that content was. Though a number of faculty members did agree that not all content coul d be taught online,
183 opinions as to what content worked or di dnÂ’t work online varied. For example, one participant could not imagin e that statistics could be taught online; however, the participant who taught statistics claimed that it was one of th e few classes that could be taught online successfully. This was likely ba sed on the advanced knowledge of the topic held by the one faculty members, or perhaps it was related to a method not previously thought of by the other member. Research was another course where opinions varied. The opposing viewpoints were held by faculty me mbers who were both knowledgeable in the topic; however, the one who felt it was less successful also reported struggling with relating to students in the online environmen t. Several faculty members also reported changing their minds after seeing some of th e results that they had not previously believed possible, such as those in health a ssessment. One member also indicated that if the conditions were extreme, such as being in the Â“middle of Mont ana,Â” it was usually possible to make anything work in the online environment. Sloan-C identifies Â“five pillarsÂ” that are necessary for a quality online program (Lorenzo & Moore, 2002). The first pillar is learning effectiveness and includes factors such as active learning and higher order thinking Sloan-C, along with other researchers, have done many studies on the effectiveness of online learning. De spite the extensive research already completed, the concern about rigor and whether st udents are learning as effectively as in live courses were issues that some faculty members felt were not sufficiently answered by the current resear ch. Some faculty members, however, were comfortable with the learning outcomes e xhibited by their online students. Faculty members who were skeptical seemed to feel a need to conduct their own research, not
184 quite trusting what could be found in the literature. Wh ether student learning is comparable is probably something that varies on a class-by-class basis, this is likely true of face-to-face classes as well. Faculty evaluations tend to be lower in online courses than in face-to-face classes (Hopewell, 2007; Ryan et al., 2004). Kelly disc overed that the results were comparable; however, Hopewell showed that the larger i ssue was that fewer students complete online evaluations, thereby minimizing the evaluati onsÂ’ validity. Participants in this study concurred but were at a loss as to how this could be corrected. Several options were offered by participants. These options incl uded recognizing a lo wer mean in online classes and revising the way online faculty members are evaluated. Gerry described a program at another institution that addressed a new way of looking at online evaluations. The evaluations were more objective and also provided faculty members with standards for developing and teaching their online course s. For example, instead of just asking whether faculty members responded in a timely manner, the evaluation asked whether faculty members responded within 48 hour s. These options should be seriously considered, as should ways to increase st udent participation. A dditionally, one faculty member did report that her online eval uations are higher than her face-to-face evaluations. She based this observation on ex tensive communication with students. This individual expressed a strong desire to connect with he r online students and reported having successfully forged relationships, i ndicating the potential of personality or Â“charismaÂ” as an influence on how faculty members are evaluated.
185 Major Theme Three: Communication in the Online Environment Communicating online, including the in ability to gauge whether students understood the content, was addr essed frequently in the lit erature (Diekelmann et al., 1998; Frese, 2006; Johnson, 2005; Ryan et al., 2 004). Through the course of the first few conversations and in subsequent intervie ws that all faculty members, though not originally asked directly a bout communication, were asked ab out their relationships with students in the online environment. Many partic ipants in this study va lidate the findings in the literature that though faculty have repo rted concern at the loss of physical presence, some have embraced new opportunities for st udent interaction not available in the traditional face-to-face classroom (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Five of the participants felt that relationships with online students were not possible or were, at best, very limited; however, the remaining faculty members report ed having closer rela tionships with their online students than they had ever had in face-to-face classes. This latter group included all participants at SU4, whose school philosophy of caring was evident in the way faculty member s described their efforts to ensure that students got what they needed from the faculty. Other schools were mixed in their beliefs about this concept. As one SU4 faculty member described it, it is a more intense effort to build those relationships. Of the group who di d not report having satisfying relationships, two were also administrators in charge of running satellite campus programs, and the remaining three were heavily involved in rese arch Â– a factor that may account for the lack of time and focus needed to make the Hercul ean effort to connect with online students.
186 While no one indicated that they tho ught communication in online classes was superior, many found it to be different, and, in some cases, faculty members reported being Â“closerÂ” to online student s. Some participants acknowledged that it could be easier to get to know online students than students in face-to-face classes that numbered 50, or even 100. Faculty members reported concer ns that students were not following instructions or even reading all the comm unication that felt was necessary to be successful in the course. This inability to connect was also refl ected in faculty membersÂ’ concerns about ensuring that students understand the cont ent. McCrory, Putnam, and Jason (2008) reported that in live classes, faculty member s can control the information flow of the course, but in online classes, students may not follow the direction identified for them. Participants in this study indicated this was a concern. Some, like Gerry, believed that faculty members need to look students in th e eye to determine whether they understand the content. Others, such as Stacey, who wa s relatively new to online teaching, felt that their ongoing dialogue with stude nts provided the same results as face-to-face instruction. Again, the time and effort to maintain this type of communication was massive, and those who reported the most success provided multiple ways for students to connect with them and were usually the ones who were availabl e at all hours for ques tions and concerns by students. There was an assumption by some of the participants that all faculty members who taught face-to-face made be tter connections with thei r students than those who taught online and were aware of studentsÂ’ comprehension. Perhaps as faculty members taught online they real ized the connection was missing, or perhaps these individuals were
187 always ones who looked for phys ical clues to gauge student understanding. It is not likely, however, that faculty members who teach large classes are any more aware of how well students are following them than online faculty who do not take an interest in reaching out to their students. Faculty members who continually communi cated with students, whether it was to answer questions, provide fee dback, or give instructions, often did so through as many means as possible. This experience was sim ilar to that of faculty members at the University of Wisconsin who expressed th e need to learn new communication methods and adjust to different time frames to compen sate for their lack of physical presence and the inability to see the visual signs of stude nt confusion when presenting course material, consequently, changing the traditional studen t-teacher relationship (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Methods that faculty members reporte d utilizing included not only email, discussions boards, and instant messaging, but also tools such as Skype, videos, and cell phones, to talk with students. Additiona lly, whenever possible, faculty members encouraged online students to drop by for f ace-to-face chats. Providing detailed feedback is also a necessity for online students so they can receive guidance for their online learning and, also, to ensure the faculty that individual students unde rstand the content. Though no one is denying that face-to-f ace contact is the preferred method of communicating, many faculty members found cr eative means to foster relationships between themselves and students, and among the students themselves. Writing clear directions was also deem ed important when communicating with students. There can be no room for ambiguity when describing instructions. Providing an
188 information place for students to talk not only to faculty members, but to other students, can cut down on emails and phone calls. A dditionally, if many st udents are reporting confusion over the same issue, faculty memb ers may need to reconsider whether the instructions are clear and accurate and they may need to look at a different way to present information. Major Theme Four: Teaching in the Online Environment Faculty members who taught online have various methods and beliefs about how to present content th at engages students and encourages active learning. Nursing faculty members at University of Wisconsin reporte d that while some of their methods were transferable, they had to re think other teaching methods for online delivery (Diekelmann et al., 1998). In this study, ma ny faculty members originally tried to upload their current course content but learned early on that this was not effectiv e. Though some were able to salvage some of their existing materials and methods for the online environment, they, as did the faculty at Wisconsin, needed to reth ink and retool how they taught online. Some relied on posting PowerPoint slides, someti mes with audio, or files for students to download and read. Others presented multi-me dia that provided students with videos, audios, and graphical depictions. Whether on e method was more successful than another seemed to be based on faculty op inion rather than actual data. One method that was mentioned frequently by most faculty members was the use of discussion boards. Discussion boards were utilized as a method for getting students to engage in the content through open-ended discussions. In one case, the faculty member
189 also assigned students as discussion leaders because she had discovered that whenever she commented, students stoppe d their own discussions. Faculty members tried to find practical met hods to assess students and to ensure that they understood the content. Some exam ples of these methods include short essay exams and group projects. Some faculty member s sent students on Â“fie ld tripsÂ” into the community. Students reported on such experi ences as purchasing birth control devices and visiting abortion clinics. There was some debate among participan ts as to whether teaching online was dramatically different from teaching faceto-face. Several faculty members who thought the experience was entirely different describe d how the ability to gage whether students understood the content being presented was the biggest obstacle. In a live class, they reported, it was easy to change methods if students needed some information explained in a different way. Other faculty member report ed feeling that it was not significantly different. They were presenting the same cont ent and some of the methods varied, but, essentially, they believed there was little di fference. One faculty member reported that the experiences were different but there were ways to accomp lish the same things in both media. Neither was better or wors e; they were just different. Some faculty members felt that they had already begun the move to teaching online while still teaching their face-to-face cl asses. They were already beginning to use modules and record their lectures and we re providing multi-media files to supplement student learning. Other members reported that the experience of teaching online changed how they taught or how they would teach faceto-face classes. They indicated that instead
190 of lecturing they would now find ways to incorporate methods of active learning into their face-to-face classes. The significance of faculty members as f acilitators of learning in the online environment was addressed by several studi es (Biro, 2005; Johnson, 2008; Ryan et al., 2004; Ryan et al., 2005). According to Salinas (2008), to utilize technology effectively in education there needs to be a shift from l ecture-based to learne r-centered mastery, and 85% said that the instructorÂ’s role had changed from author ity figure to f acilitator (Ryan et al., 2005). Many of the faculty in this study either identifie d themselves as facilitators of learning or described activities that indica ted that they were f acilitating learning. One participant proclaimed that acting as a facili tator was vital to successful online learning. Others addressed the importance of nursing stud ents being able to co ntinue their learning after graduation as they encounter new pro cedures, equipment, and medications. Sharing the responsibility of learni ng with students was how one faculty described the process. Another participant felt that most faculty memb ers, especially graduate faculty members, encouraged facilitated learning. Â“The major naysayers, which are very few, are probably still people who believe that if the student is not physically sitting in front of you, there is something wrong with the student Somehow to them Â‘being in a room when IÂ’m talkingÂ’ is magic.Â” The online environment was seen as Â“es pecially participativeÂ” which also encouraged students to be more active in th eir own learning. The use of discussion boards was a major method in fostering this, but en couraging students to study areas in which
191 the faculty members were not the experts was another way that faculty and students shared the teaching/learning process. When examining the faculty members who identified themselves with the concept of facilitators of learning, it is important to note that all faculty at SU4 identified or described themselves that way. Since they ha ve a strong philosophy of caring that is the essence of their program, this validates that they have incorporated that value into their teaching. Similarly, no faculty at SU2 identified themselves or described activities that would identify them as facilitators of l earning. In fact, only one participant reported utilizing any teaching methods that extended beyond uploading documents. Faculty members at this institution also reported more issues with students than any other of the participants interviewed for this study. On e faculty member at SU2 described being discouraged from utilizing innovative tec hniques by both students and colleagues. Whether the difference was between philosophie s or types of students was not something that could be determined through these inte rviews. Finding ways to effectively teach students online was important to all pa rticipants, though methods and philosophies varied. Most participan ts prided themselves on finding i nnovative ways to deliver content and assess learning. The exception was faculty at SU2, who were discouraged from engaging in interactive and i nnovative learning experiences. Major Theme Five: Advantages of Online Education Schedule flexibility and enhanced student participation were the primary online teaching advantages identified by faculty memb ers. These were also reported by Sloan-C as two factors associated with faculty satisfaction (L orenzo & Moore, 2002). Though
192 over half of the faculty did report these a dvantages, this was uncovered by them after having taught for at least one semester. Th e determination was not something they had expected prior to beginning to teach online. Enhanced participation by students in the online class resulted Â“in more learning, be tter learning, because they have to do the activities there in that course.Â” Other studi es show that faculty and students reported feeling that distance education allows them to be more open and f eel less stifled when expressing their views and opinions online (D iekelmann et al., 1998). This was reported by faculty members who said that discussi ons were more in-depth online and that students were able to cover more information than would have been possible in a face-toface course. The relative anonymity of the online environment seemed to give students more confidence when participating in disc ussions. Interestingl y, this same anonymity was reported by faculty members as one of the concerns because students used this anonymity to express displeasure or provide harsher evaluations. Flexibility was seen as a significant advantage by all faculty members interviewed by Hopewell (2007). Flexibility includes scheduling and freedom to work in nontraditional areas. Many participants reported enjoying the flexibility they experienced by not being tied to a specific place and time in order to teach students. A faculty member who taught primarily online stated that, Â“it is more work, but then you could look at it the other way and say, but its self-directed and sel f-paced, so I can do that at my speed in my pajamas at three o clock in the morning.Â” Bei ng able to attend conferences, do research, get degrees, and even take vacations were all mentioned as advantages to teaching online. Saving time and money by not commuting was listed as a positive for faculty members as
193 well as for students. Though faculty members still reported feeling overwhelmed by the demands of teaching online, this ability to sc hedule their time according to their personal needs and agenda was seen as one of the most personally positive aspects to teaching online. Several faculty members noted a few othe r advantages that could be significant when trying to recruit online teachers. Facu lty members have reported a high degree of satisfaction with being involve d in designing and delivering an online course, as this provided them with the opportunity to enha nce their own skills in a new area of study (Conceicao, 2006). This finding was identified by several of th e participants. The ability to be creative was discussed by four participants, and t hough other faculty members did not specifically identify cr eativity, many were clearly intrigued by the opportunity to design different kinds of lear ning experiences and to participate in teaching and student relationships in a new way. Increasing stude nt enrollment was mentioned by two of the faculty members; this was identified more as a financial advantage for the university or college. Major Theme Six: Students in the Online Environment That students are different in the onlin e environment was a belief held by many of the faculty members who particip ated in this study. It is va lidated in the literature, as well. Students have different ex pectations from those in prev ious generations; they expect to communicate continuously with faculty members through elec tronic resources, and they expect faculty members to provide in teractive learning experiences utilizing the latest technologies; c onsequently, faculty members are re quired to alter their previous
194 methods of teaching and communicating with students (Hartman et al., 2007). Whether this was due to the venue or to the types of individuals w ho prefer an online program was questioned by a few of the participants. Fo r example, Gerry believes that students who enroll in online programs are not as motivated or dedicate d as students who enroll in face-to-face programs. Generati onal differences were also voiced by participants, indicating that age and generati onal values impacted how stud ents behaved in the online environment. Morgan stated that younger students who grew up with Facebook or other online social networking sites are more ap t to be outspoken and more apt to form relationships online. That not all students can be successful in the online environment was mentioned by most of the faculty members. Casey stated that the percentage of students who are not suitable is Â“five to ten percent.Â” The reason mo st often given for this was that students frequently lacked motivation or self-directedne ss. Some were also identified as being too apprehensive and always fearful. Though younge r students had better technical skills, older students were more likely to have the discipline needed to pursue online education. Since nursing students in RN completion and graduate pr ograms were most likely employed and had families, school often seemed to be a low priority; Â“school is second or third or even fourth on thei r list.Â” Consequently, complain ts regarding workload and deadlines were frequently voiced by online st udents. One participan t reported feeling discouraged by studentsÂ’ lack of motivation to engage in innovative interactions or challenging assignments. Several faculty memb ers reported giving frequent quizzes in order to ensure that students actually read the material. Faculty members also
195 experienced rudeness and, as was mentioned in another theme, lower evaluations that they believed were due to the relative anonymity of the online classroom. That students expect online education to be easier and more convenient is a concept encouraged by proprieta ry for-profit institutions that frequently appear in the media was a belief held by one of the part icipants. Looking for si milar convenience at public universities may dissuade students who continue their online education at places where the curriculum is more rigorous and wh ere they do not receive immediate support. A number of the students described by the participants of this study were demanding and were not afraid to voice their displeasure, indicating that perhaps students held faculty members who teach online as less qualified th an their face-to-face counterparts. Attempts by faculty members to act as facilitators rather than authority figures may also lead students to view them differently and to re sent their efforts to impose conditions and restrictions on th e online classroom. Two themes that were not mentioned by many faculty members, but that are included because of their significance, were cheating and learning styles Only three faculty members mentioned the possibility of students cheating, and one other member, when directly asked, did not consider it to be an issue. Though cheating is mentioned frequently in other venues, this topic was of minimal concern to the participants. indicating that this may not be as prevalent as recently reported in the media and discussed among faculty. Student learning styles were likew ise mentioned relatively few times. Though three faculty members deemed it a critical considera tion when designing online courses, one other member felt that the benefits of designing to multiple learning
196 styles was not costor time-efficient. Since th is is a topic mentioned frequently as being important in the literature, it was important to note its lack of men tion by the participants in this study. Summary Each of the major themes uncovered in this study were identified in the literature reviewed in chapter 2. How the literature relates to this st udy is incorporated into the discussion of each of the themes. A list of th e literature discussed in this section is identified in table 6, which identifies each of the themes/subthemes and a related citation. The only two themes that were not found in the literature reviewed for chapter 2 were learning styles and cheating, wh ich were also two of the least frequently mentioned themes in the interviews. Despite previously published literature in which many of these issues were addressed, faculty membersÂ’ voices ar e still not being adequately heard by administration. The single issue most frequent ly addressed by faculty members in this study, as well as in other liter ature, is the time it take s to teach online classes. Administrators continue to overload online classes and do not provide faculty adequate time for preparation. This one issue impacts student outco mes, faculty development, course development, faculty evaluations, and al most all other aspects of faculty life. This study enabled faculty members to describe firs t-hand what is entailed in the development and delivery of an online class. Through these descriptions, administ rators can begin to understand the requirements necessary for effective online education. Additionally, though the literature indicates that a majority of faculty members want mentors, faculty
197 developers in most public institutions have not yet addressed this need in a satisfactory manner. Finally, several benefits to teaching online, such as schedule flexibility, student participation, and faculty-student relations hips, were identified by many of the faculty members. These positive outcomes could be further developed to encourage faculty member participation in online teaching. Table 6 List of Themes and Citations Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation Faculty Development and Support Preparing Faculty to Teach Online Faculty members who are considered experts in their fields may discover that they are novices in technology compared to their students; this may change the traditional teacher-student relationship (Diekelmann et al., 1998; Hartman et al., 2007). Institutional Support and Resources Instructors are satisfied with the online teaching experience if they find it personally and professionally beneficial. Institutional supports such as infrastructure, training, and technical support, as well as recognition, are also important to faculty satisfaction. (Sloan-C, n.d.).
198 Table 6 (Continued) Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation Faculty Collaboration Diekelmann, Schuster, and Nosek (1998) refer to Â“decentralizingÂ” teacher c ontrol as new types of relationships with students are developed and as faculty members must collaborate with other faculty members, technical support, and instructional designers when, developing, and deliver ing online courses. Though 74% stated that having a mentor was important, only 15% had one. (Frese, 2006). Faculty Issues and Concerns
199 Table 6 (Continued) Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation Time and Effort to Teach Online All nursing faculty members surveyed by Ryan et al. (2005) indicated that students expected communication within 48 hours. The time to develop the cour se was significantly more than when that needed for developing a comparable face-to-face class (Chris tianson et al., 2002). Students expect to comm unicate continuously with faculty members through elec tronic resources, and they expect faculty members to provide interactive learning experiences utilizing the latest technologies; this requires faculty members to alter the ways they are used to teaching and co mmunicating with students (Hartman et al., 2007). A change in familiar ways of working and scheduling of their time was a concern faculty members reported in a number of studies. In a study at the University of Wisconsin, nursing faculty repor ted that, as they began teaching online, they found the experience disrupted schedules that they had b een used to for many years (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Table 6 ( Continued )
200 Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation The need for administrative support was expressed by all faculty members interviewed in multiple studies (Gammill, 2004; Johnson, 2008; Ryan et al., 2004; Schwarzman, 2007). Administra tors frequently believe that faculty members can manage larger numbers of students in online courses Student Evaluation of Learning Concerns that online faculty might not receive evaluations comparable to face-to-face classes were explored by Kelly (2007). Effectiveness of Online Education Sloan-C identifies Â“five pillarsÂ” that are necessary for a quality online program (Lor enzo & Moore, 2002). The first pillar is learning effectiveness and includes factors such as active learning a nd higher order thinking. Communication in the Online Environment Online Relationships Though many faculty members have reported concern at the loss of physical presence, some have embraced new opportunities for interacting with students not available in the traditio nal face-to-face classroom (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Assessing Student Understanding McCrory, Putnam, and Jason (2008) report that in live classes faculty members can control the information Table 6 ( Continued )
201 Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation flow of the course, but in online classes, students may not follow the direction identified for them. Communicating Effectively in the Online Environment Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin expressed the need to learn new communication methods and adjust to time fr ames different from those with which they are used to working. Physical presence, or lack of physi cal presence, concerns many faculty members, as they are no longer able to see visual signs of student confusion when presenting course material. This changes the traditional studentteacher relationship (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Teaching in the Online Environment Online Teaching Methods Nursing faculty members at University of Wisconsin also reported that, while some of their methods were transferable, they had to rethink other online teaching methods, such as preparation of handouts and communicating at a distance (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Faculty as Facilitators of Learning According to Salinas (2008) to utilize technology effectively in education there needs to be a shift from lecture-based to learner-cen tered mastery; 85% said that the instructorÂ’s role had changed from authority Table 6 ( Continued ) Table 6 ( Continued )
202 Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation figure to facilitator (Ryan et al., 2005). In BiroÂ’s (2005) study of on line faculty, participants described their role as facilitators rather than lecturers and consequently struggled to interact with students in this medium. Advantages of Online Education Increased Student Participation Faculty and students reported feeling that distance education allows them to be more open and feel less stifled when expressing their views and opinions. (Diekelmann et al., 1998). Schedule Flexibility Flexibility was seen as a si gnificant advantage by all faculty members intervie wed by Hopewell (2007). Flexibility includes scheduling and freedom to work in nontraditional areas. Other Miscellaneous Advantages Faculty members have reported a high degree of satisfaction with being involved in designing and delivering an online course, as this provided them with the opportunity to enhance their own skills in a new area of study (Conceicao, 2006). Students in the Online Environment Online Students Attributes Students have different exp ectations from previous Table 6 ( Continued )
203 Major Theme/Sub-Theme Citation generations. They expect to communicate continuously with faculty members through electronic resources, and they expect faculty members to provide interactive learning experiences utilizi ng the latest technologies. This requires faculty to alter the ways they are used to teaching and communicating with students (Hartman et al., 2007). Student Cheating n/a Student Learning Styles n/a Conclusions and Implications for Practice Based on the analysis of the data, conclu sions are presented as responses to each of the research questions, which guided the di rection of this study. Research question 1 is the overarching question for the study and re sults presented here are a structural description of the experiences for the group as a whole as described by the analysis of the themes. Research questions 2 through 5 provi de a synthesis of the meaning and essence of the experiences described by research question 1. Research Question 1. What are the experiences of nursing faculty in transitioning from live face-to-face classroo m to online teaching? In order to provide a structural descri ption of the results, composites of the participants in this study are used. Lindsey is a composite of the overall faculty Table 6 ( Continued )
204 experience described by the participants of this study. The other characters exemplify some of the variations expe rienced by faculty members. Through the use of imaginative variation, as described by Moustakas (1994), th e characters will describe the essence of each of the themes and the relevance to the experience of transitioning to online teaching. The characters are identified as follows: Lindsey Â– an experienced nursing faculty who just received her first online teaching assignment. She is located on the main campus. Shelby Â– an experienced nursing faculty who just received his first online teaching assignment. He is located on a satellite campus. Corey Â– an experienced nur sing faculty who completed a post-graduate degree in distance education. Christian Â– an experienced nursing faculty who received extensive training from a previous university to teach online. Lindsey Lindsey is a nursing faculty member in her late 40s who has taught face-to-face classes for about 10 years. Recently, her coll ege began offering some classes entirely online through a content management system (CMS), and Lindsey had utilized the CMS to post some documents for her live class. One day, the associate dean approached Lindsey and informed her that next semester she would be teaching the graduate nursing research course online. Lindsey immediately felt a sense of panic. Â“How many times will the class meet in person?Â” she asked.
205 Â“This is an online class,Â” explained th e associate dean. Â“Your students, many who live on the other side of the state, will never come on campus.Â”. After catching her breath, Lindsey decided to talk to some of the faculty members who had taught online. A colleague who teaches at another state university related that they have an extensive program preparing faculty members to teach online and walk participants through the steps of preparing the first few m odules. Â“Modules,Â” she thought. Â“WhatÂ’s a module?Â” So Lindsey attempted to fi nd out if there was anything similar at her campus. Through discussions with her colleague s, she found that there was a center on campus that prepares faculty members to te ach online. Lindsey l ooked at the list of offerings and was dismayed to find that ma ny of the classes and workshops were on the same days that she did clinical visits. She was also disappointed th at there were not as many technology courses as she would have li ked that would have taught her how to utilize the CMS in her teaching strategies. Ho wever, she signed up for as many courses as possible. She also researched the universi ty website for information on how to get technical support for both herself and her st udents. The support hours were somewhat limited, she determined, but her colleagues had to ld her that they were very helpful, and she could set up one-on-one time with an IT sp ecialist for intensive technical training. The workshops provided her with some in itial confidence, and Lindsey was eager to start working on designing her class. She d ecided that she should meet with the faculty members who previously taught the course. Each of them ta ught the course somewhat differently, and as Lindsey looked at their classes she thought of some other teaching methods she wanted to use, while incorpor ating what the faculty members had already
206 developed. She asked for copies of the cour se and one of her colleagues gave her full access, but the other one was reluctant, stati ng privacy and intellectual property issues, so Lindsey focused instead on what she had been given. Lindsey also met again with the associate dean and asked if she would be wo rkloaded to allow for time to develop the course. After the associate dean stopped laughi ng hysterically, she explained that was not the policy of the university. Lindsey decided that this was not the time to ask for a teaching assistant. Armed with all the information she ha d gathered, Lindsey began developing her course for the following semester. She ran in to some roadblocks along the way mostly having to do with the te chnology, and she had to wait until business hours on the following day to get assistance, which put her slightly behind schedule. Her colleague at another institution reported that they have 24/7 support but that it cam e at a price to the students, however, most of them Â– students a nd faculty Â– thought that the cost was worth it. Fortunately, Lindsey discovere d that one of her colleagues was a real expert at online teaching and had, in fact, completed a post-mast erÂ’s certificate at another university, so she scheduled time with this colleague to di scuss the course. The colleague was a real asset, but Lindsey was conscious that the colleague had respon sibilities as well and tried not to impose too much on her time. Lindsey learned that there was another faculty member who is also very knowledgeable, but that faculty member was at a satellite campus over two hours away. As the class began, Lindsey was overwhe lmed by the volume of emails sent by students asking for clarificati on and for help in solving t echnical problems they were
207 experiencing. The volume of questions was staggering and Lindsey found that she was spending almost all her time responding to ema ils. She also noted that on the discussion boards there was some grumbling that questi ons were not being answered in a timely manner. One student described that in a previous class the adjunct instructor had responded immediately to every email and had given feedback on assignments within 24 hours. LindseyÂ’s colleague recommended that she emphasize her communications policy indicating how quickly she would respond to em ails. Lindsey encouraged the students to utilize the discussion board for questions from which the enti re class could benefit. She also realized that some of her instructions might not have been as clear as she had originally believed, so based on the questions from students, she restructured how the information was presented. As the semester progressed, Lindsey began to reconsider whether this class should be taught online. Previously, in her faceto-face version, students could more easily discuss ideas for their papers, and she was mo re confident that students were actually learning the content and not ju st copying information from another student. Her colleague explained that almost any class could be taught online given the right set of circumstances and the right method. Lindsey also was struck by how different teaching online was from teaching face-to-face. Fortuna tely, she had a masterÂ’s in education so she was more prepared than some of her co lleagues in addressing the pedagogical aspects of teaching online; however, she signed up for some online teaching workshops in her spare time.
208 LindseyÂ’s other primary concern was her inability to get to know her students very well. Though they had signed up for the class and had particip ated in discussion boards and turned in assignments, she had no idea who the people really were. She also was concerned that they might not be Â“getting it.Â” In class she could see the look in their eyes that showed whether they understood or not, and she could then more strongly emphasize the importance of particular poin ts, but she wondered how would she know in this online class whether they were getting it? Lindsey approached her friend at another institution and asked how she handled this situation. Lindsey was surprised when she learned that her friend reporte d knowing her online students be tter than her face-to-face students. She accomplished this by finding mu ltiple ways for students to communicate with her: email, discussion boards, inst ant messaging and even phone or face-to-face encounters when possible. Also, she used the information on the discussion boards to formulate an analysis of each studentÂ’s unde rstanding, and because every one of them had to respond, no student was ev er hiding in the back of the class. She let students know that she was available and approachable and willing to meet their needs. Doing this without compromising her own personal spac e was a delicate balancing act, but the rewards had been well wo rth the sacrifice. As the semester came to an end, Lindse y reflected on her experience and decided how she would do things in the upcoming semester. She was disappointed but not surprised to discover that her evaluations we re lower than expected. However, she also noted that very few students had responded to the survey and likely the poor evaluations were from the few students who had not done we ll. The final papers in the class showed
209 that some of her online student s had understood the material as well as, if not better than, her face-to-face students. A few, however, just didnÂ’t get it and she believed they might need a live experience in order to point them in the right direction. As she prepared for the next semester, Lindsey was pleased to see that, since she had spent so much time last semester building the course, it didnÂ’t seem to take very long to make the few tweaks that were needed to set up the course. She had spoken with a number of her colleagues who taught online, bo th in nursing and in other disciplines, and asked them to describe some of their teaching methods. Through her conversations she found some teaching methods that she believ ed would work better than what she was currently doing. Some of the ideas, such as assigning field trips, appointing students as discussion leaders, and providing case studies to analyze online, were very creative. She also decided that in some cases she was exer ting too much control and needed to pull back and let students take the lead. For exam ple, having students write papers on topics with which she was unfamiliar enabled them to take greater responsibility for their own learning. While Lindsey still provided the le arning framework, the studentsÂ’ work was often new and interesting to her, and they found the work more compelling. At a faculty meeting, several of the me mbers who had not taug ht online expressed their dislike of the medium and wondered how Lindsey could tolerate the additional burden imposed by teaching online. As Li ndsey reflected on her experience, she discovered that she actually liked teaching onl ine for several reasons. First, yes, it did take more time, but it was time spent on her own schedule. She didnÂ’t have to show up certain days and times anymore, and she ha d the opportunity to pa rticipate in some
210 conferences and even take a vacation. All th e time she was away, she could still manage her online class. She also ha d the opportunity to do some research without having to worry about stopping her work to go to teach a class. Â“What about students?Â” her colleagues as ked. Â“ArenÂ’t they getting away with not doing as much?Â” Â“No,Â” replied Lindsey. Â“Act ually, they participate more than in live classes. Instead of hiding behind their classmates, they are all re sponsible for substantively participating in online discussions. The work is probably more difficult than in face-toface. They are sometimes ruder, and they do seem needier than their face-to-face counterparts.Â” One faculty expressed his belief that students who took online classes were not as dedicated as face-to-face student s, and Lindsey acknowledged that in some situations that was probably true. Â“Some are too anxious as we ll,Â” she reported, Â“but I try to find ways to alleviate their anxieties.Â” Another faculty asked about learning styles and cheati ng, and Lindsey thought for a time and then stated that neither one s eemed like an issue to her. She did try to present materials in multiple ways to student s, but doing much more was not practical in her opinion. As for cheating, she agreed that it could exist, but if her students were cheating on exams, they didnÂ’t seem to be doing a very good job at it. Lindsey approached her next semester pr epared for a number of contingencies she had not foreseen previously. She found hersel f relying less on her colleagues for support and even signed up for a few advanced cl asses on teaching online, though she had to
211 postpone about half of them. She found the in formation in the ones she attended to be interesting but was aware that she didnÂ’t have time to im plement the methods into her online courses. Teaching still took a lot of tim e, but she found ways to manage it better. However, this did continue to be an ongoi ng issue for which there was no easy resolution, and then she discovered that her class had been increased by five students. At the end of the semester, she was easily ready to go on to the next semester. She did note that her evaluations were a little improved, but not by much. Shelby Shelby had taught for the university about five years and was now teaching at a satellite campus over two hours away from th e main campus. Previously he taught for over 12 years at a community college. His first online teaching assignment was to take over an existing class. He had some experi ence with the system because he had been posting documents and some assignments online in order to reduce class time, since most of his students were rural and had to make le ngthy drives to campus to attend class. The biggest concern for him was how much he would miss the soci al aspects of the classroom. When Shelby looked at the class he inhe rited, he was dismayed by the number of assignments and found many of them redundant He began by reorganizing the class to create what he believed would be a more effective learning opport unity. He had not had any formal training on teaching online, and had been assigned the course two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester. Since the on ly workshops available were offered at the main campus, which was a two-hour drive, he had little time and no training to prepare
212 him for the assignment. Two weeks into the class, he was called to a meeting by the associate dean who reprimanded him for changing the class assignments. Shelby was then forced to return the class to its or iginal state and apologize to the students. Though Shelby was located at a satellite campus, he was fortunate that his school had excellent technical support and most pr oblems were quickly solved by telephone or email. One of his colleagues who taught at another university described her experience with main campus technical support as bei ng anything but supportiv e. ShelbyÂ’s biggest asset was his co-worker, Chels ea. The two of them had worked as a team for a number of years and frequently collaborated on course s. Ideas, issues, and concerns could be discussed with her. In addition, Chelsea had more experience with online teaching so her support was invaluable to Shelby. Like Lindsey, Shelby was overwhelmed with the volume of emails and phone calls from students. Instead of avoiding th e students, however, he responded regularly and gave out his cell phone number so that students could call him on their schedules. He also set up discussion boards that allowed st udents to engage in ongoing discussions with him regarding content and assignments. He learned over time to step back and only respond when necessary, allowing students to ta ke the lead in most conversations. Shelby also discovered that the more experienced an online student was, the easier it was for them to navigate the system, which gave th em an advantage over their peers who were new to online learning. They knew how to cut corners and get by with a minimal amount of effort. Shelby believed that the rigid consistency of the university online classes
213 contributed to this situati on and that the work these st udents provided was technically flawless but not genuine. The next semester he was given another co urse to teach and was able to set it up the way he preferred. The structure was le ss rigid and discussion boards were not as formalized. He would like to learn how to crea te content that is engaging and interactive, but it was difficult for him to travel to the main campus for workshops. He spent a great deal of time, instead, studying the literature and learned as much as he could on his own about communication and facilitation skill s. He still expressed concerns about community and how to get students who liv e hundreds of miles away involved in community experiences when he was not aware of what possibilities there were that he might encourage. He was happier also that he had the opportunity to design and teach a course that followed his philosophy and beliefs about teaching, regardless of whether it was online or live. Shelby also developed close relationships w ith students and was knowledgeable about their pe rsonal lives as well as their needs as learners. Corey Unlike Lindsey or Shelby, Corey accepte d a visiting assistant professor position with the university because he knew that he would be teaching online. He had been interested in the medium fo r a number of years after obt aining his PhD in a partially online program. Because of his interest, he completed a distance education post-masterÂ’s certificate from the UCLA extension school. Like his colleagues, he was somewhat dismayed with the amount of time it took to build his courses and deal with student i ssues. However, his expe rience and advanced
214 education provided him with the tools he need ed to set boundaries that were not too rigid. Like Shelby, Corey was very involved in st udent communication issues and maintained a continual dialogue through a variety of high-tech (IMing, Skype, etc.) and low-tech (telephone, office visits) means. He was very sensitive to student n eeds and abilities and on occasion encouraged students to enroll in face -to-face classes, partic ularly if they were very nervous about the online environment, not self-directed, or in need of social presence. Corey attended a few faculty developm ent workshops but found most of them inferior to what he had already learned in his post-masterÂ’s certif icate. Occasionally, he participated in workshops that intr oduced new technology but often found the pedagogical aspects as to how he would use them to be missi ng. Frustrated at not getting the kind of help he needed, he helped organize a faculty listserv within the university that gave other online faculty members an opportuni ty to get answers to problems and learn about new online teaching methods from their colleagues. It was also noted that Corey was the only faculty member to get high online evaluations. Eventually, several faculty members who were new to online education asked if they could add him to their classes and ge t some feedback on their teaching methods. Corey readily agreed. Soon administration was requesting that he me ntor other faculty members. Some were very eager for his assi stance, but several te nured professors, who had been teaching face-to-face for a number of years, expressed their displeasure at his interference, so he politely backed off. However, his reputation among other faculty members continued to grow and the assistant dean began to discuss making mentoring of
215 new online faculty part of his assignment. He liked this role and continued to make himself available to anyone requesting guidance. Christian Like Corey, Christian had initiated the request to teach online. However, her motives were somewhat different. She str ongly believed that online education was inherently inferior to traditional teaching and, if left to the Â“online zealots,Â” the rigor and quality of the courses would suffer significantl y. Christian previously taught at a private university that had a very extensive onlin e teaching development program. After some initial training, she was mentored by e xperienced, knowledgeable faculty members through her first semester. In addition to technical training, sh e also received a background in pedagogy that had grounded her in the principals of education. The private university had also provided Christian and a few of her colleagues with a one-year grant to study the best practices of online nursi ng education. The end result was a set of standards that were published and utili zed by the college of nursing, and an online evaluation tool that reflected these standards. As a result of this study, Christian had also developed a strong belief in providing only lo w-tech content in her online class. She believed that the effort to address multiple learning styles by providing various multimedia was not an efficient use of her time. The majority of students, she believed, were able to utilize her material effec tively, and the remaining few adapted. Students found her low-tech methods easy to access without some of the technological glitches that could occur with multimedia presentations Christian believed that this afforded less stress for students who might otherw ise be struggling w ith the technology.
216 After all this preparation and research Christian still doubted the efficacy of online education. Her belief was that student s who were serious about their education would make the effort to atte nd live classes. However, she r ealized that online education was here to stay for the foreseeable future, and if public and private institutions were going to compete with the University of Phoe nix and other for-prof it online institutions, they needed to offer online education. Her hope was that the not-f or-profit universities would deliver quality courses online that attracted serious students. Christian found communication with online students to be a major issue. Her inability to read body language and ensure th at students were getting the material was particularly frustrating. Sh e tried to emphasize certain aspects of the content and assignments that were important but worried about being offensive or putting off students by language that may come across as harsh and demeaning or by formatting that might seem too aggressive. So, instead, she hoped that students would contac t her if they were in need. Generally, the students all seemed like total strangers to her and she wondered how she would be able to effectively evaluate persons she had never seen. Since Christian was on a tenure track, sh e also worried that the time commitment to teach online would impact her ability to continue her research. Despite the collegeÂ’s emphasis on the importance of faculty doing research, she felt that she was not sufficiently supported in her efforts due to he r teaching load. Christian was also a wife and a mother of two, and her family was a priority. Balancing the demands of teaching, research, and family often was a challenge to her.
217 Research Question 2. What assumptions did nursing faculty members hold about the role of faculty in online education prior to th eir initial experience in online teaching? Initial assumptions about teaching onlin e varied widely among the participants. No participants reporting anticipating that thei r traditional faculty role would be altered in any way. Very few thought there would be any difference or that adjustments would be needed in their philosophies or ways of working. Early adopters often had very limited exposure to online courses and had no concept of what they would actually be facing. Several faculty members, such as Terry, in fact, assumed that teaching online was not that different from teaching live. Â“I kind of thought, Â‘IÂ’ve taught this course for a couple of semesters, IÂ’ve got all the PowerPoints th e quizzes, IÂ’ll just load it all on the night before the classÂ’.Â” Ray also described how she had planned to just transfer her materials for her live class to the online course. Â“I had been teachi ng this course live and I had just figured I would dump my PowerPoint in the online cla ss and that would be it that, I didn't really need to make any changes. I already really ha d the course developed, so this shouldnÂ’t be too much of a problem.Â” Tony assumed it would be similar to a correspondence course. Â“I was very familiar with correspondence courses Â… So my initial thought was that it would be similar to that, but with more interaction using the platform s.Â” Ronnie also reported that her course was similar to a correspondence course. I would say my first online course was mo re like a reading course with reading assignments and exams. That was proba bly real similar to a correspondence
218 course where they would submit their papers they would write, their assignments. WeÂ’d have some discussion, but very limited. These faculty members had been teaching live for a number of years and believed that their expertise would tr ansfer to online without much effort. Most, as students themselves, had been prepared to teach in live and clinical situations. Online education was not a factor in their preparation to move from nurse to nursing educator. Some faculty members expected that t eaching online would be easier. Â“I thought teaching online was going to be easy, easie rÂ… And how involved would the students be? And the students all think it is going to be a piece of cake. I just ha ve to read something and take a quiz and IÂ’ve got my grade.Â” Faculty at SU4 had discussed prior to beginning their online program how it would give them more free time. Ray remarked that Â“I guess we've talked as a faculty here about initially online was presented to us that it would give us more time to do research and scholarship.Â” Where these ideas came from was unclear but it was apparent that very few faculty members or administ rators had done much research about the realities of teaching online. While some, as described above, thought teaching online was similar to teaching face-to-face, others were con cerned with how they would begin teaching online. Â“I had no idea how to teach online. I didn't know how to put together a module. I just did what I thought it would be a good idea.Â” Ronnie report s that she had some ideas, but no real facts about what it entailed. Â“Those were my assumptions, that it was a boring media and you had to do something; it was a one-dimens ional media so I had to do something with
219 my assignments.Â” The idea that online educat ion was similar to correspondence courses was pervasive in the minds of inexperienced faculty members. The most commonly expressed belief th at faculty members discussed was that without face-to-face verbal instruction they would not be as effective. They knew there would be a difference between face-to-face a nd online education regardless of methods but assumed that online educat ion was inherently inferior. I chiefly didnÂ’t know what to expect. I was very concerned because the course was clinical teaching. That one of the thi ngs I think I value in clinical teaching that IÂ’m thinking was very important wa s the verbal interaction between the teacher and the student. So I was very worried about having an inability to help develop that skill in people who I would never see. Several discussed the importance of presence and reflecting their personalities in the online classroom. Â“Prior to teaching online, I never thought about the importance of faculty presence in the same way I do now.Â” Th at was another facultyÂ’s concern as well. Â“I had over years developed a classroom persona Â… and I wasn't sure how I was going to do that in this media.Â” Understanding how words or even formatting (bolding, italics, caps, etc.) could be interpreted by student s at a distance was a concern of faculty members then and to some extent even now. Â“How was I going to communicate with my students?Â” was a sentiment frequently expressed by faculty members who thought that the personal interaction was going to be missing from the online environment. Severa l faculty members described enjoying the
220 relationships with their students and doubted that it could be as fulfilling online or as effective as those with th eir face-to-face students. Well, I had always been very doubtful about online learning. The idea of not being able to interact with the student face-to-face, because I loved that kind of interaction. I was very doubtful as to how much I would enjoy it. How successful Â– Â“how effective,Â” I should say, is probably a better term Â– I would be able to be. One faculty member even reported dreading the inability to talk to people. Â“The negative I expected was, I donÂ’t get to talk to people. ThatÂ’s what. ... I want the interchange. That I was dreading.Â” Faculty members who were pa rticularly outgoing admitted enjoying the personal exchange they had in the classroom Â– the feedback, the body language Â– that helped them gauge how effective they were would all be missing. Some other faculty members expressed having positive expectations. One who had taken over a class from someone she re spected assumed it would be OK. Â“I didn't really know. I knew the person who developed it Â… loved the format, and she was really like a mentor to me, and itÂ’s obviously doable. She loves it, maybe itÂ’s OK for me too.Â” One very technologically skilled faculty member was excite d about the prospect that working in the online medium offered. I felt like it was limited only by what ever the technology could limit it by. I thought I could do videos, I could do lect ures I couldÂ… what I wanted was real interactive stuff. That's what I wanted Â– was interactivity,where you present a patient and the student selects certain opti ons and the care of that patient gets transferred to another screen. I wanted to try and develop some of that stuff but
221 just didn't have the time for it but found so me reasonable tools out there that we could use. Most faculty members, however, reported feeling intimidated by the technology and looked only to get by with the basics. Tyler, though, reported that her lack of skills was a means of bonding with her equally clueless graduate students. Some faculty members felt they comp letely understood what online teaching would be because they had experienced the medium as students themselves or had researched the literature or had talked w ith experienced faculty members. Others had been teaching online for close to a decade and remembering what they had initially perceived was confused with their ma ny years of experience. Not having any expectations, assumptions, or thoughts about the process was reported by a few faculty members. They indicated not knowi ng enough about it to have opinions. Most faculty members in this study reporte d that they began teaching online when administration assigned the courses to them There was no evidence that when these assignments were made discussions ensued a bout what faculty members could expect or how they needed to prepare, with the excep tion of the experience at SU1. Even at SU1, some faculty members began th e process of teaching online pr ior to participating in the faculty development program. At the other universities there was no guidance given except on a very informal basis and most facu lty members were responsible for preparing themselves to teach online. Time to do so was not usually given to novice online teachers. Faculty members at satellite cam puses, except SU1, had similar circumstances but had more difficulty attending developmen t workshops and, in some cases, lacked the
222 time to do so. Assignment of mentors or discu ssion regarding what to expect and how to prepare would give faculty members realis tic expectations on how to begin teaching online. Research Question 3. What experiences rela ted to online teaching may have challenged nursing facultyÂ’s perceptions of the role of faculty? One of the most common experiences re ported by faculty members was how they learned that the way they ha d taught in a classroom was not going to work in an online environment. As discussed previously, ma ny thought they would just upload the same material they had used in the classroom for years and often at the last minute discovered that the materials were inadequate without the accompanying lecture. So I was sitting there loading it all on the night before the class and realized this PowerPoint makes absolutely no sense unl ess IÂ’m standing next to them talking about them. Because you have a slide that says, Â“What is a hypothesis?Â” Well, in a classroom I put that slide up and I say, Â“OK. What did you read about a hypothesis?Â” And we talk about that and the slide makes lots of sense. But if all youÂ’re doing is sitting there with your co mputer screen and you see a slide that says, Â“What is a hypothesis?Â”... this is not going to work. So it was a real quick, Â“How do you get that piece of the informa tion?Â” that you sort of give to students in a classroom Â– that whole discussion inter action into this screen thatÂ’s staring at them. Faculty members who experienced this were unaware of the dynamics of teaching online. Since all the faculty members in this study we re experienced teachers, many felt that they
223 already knew how to teach and this would not be that different. Shortly after beginning their first class, they usually realized this was not the case. Several participants discovered that onlin e teaching was more effective than they had believed prior to the e xperience, and that their ideas about what could be taught online were uninformed. Morgan explained how she felt that clinical skills could not be taught online, however. Â“I just finished going out to evaluate some of the students who've been taking our advanced health assessment on line this semester and was very impressed with their skills.Â” Ronnie described how she resisted putting an ethics course online until she discovered that the anonymity of the online environment provided a safer place for students to discuss controversial issues. The most common experience related by participants that challenged their concepts on the role of facu lty was relating to the time required to teach online. Â“When you get into the class you real ize you have to do a lot of monitoring. You thought you just had to go in at the end and pick up thei r grades.Â” Instead of this scenario, faculty members learned that much more was exp ected. Â“You have to go in and see what everyone is doing and keeping track of everybody and see that everything is posted.Â” Many discovered that Â“teaching online is a 24/7 proposition,Â” unlik e the typical face-toface class, which Â“is done after three hours.Â” Online students expect faculty members to be available continuously and to work around their schedules. More than one faculty member described Â“Â… students who think if they write to you at 9:02 think you should be there to respond at 9: 03.Â” Faculty members soon learn th at the traditi onal educational paradigm no longer works in the online environment.
224 We here and most other places IÂ’ve taught in nursing tend to teach classes three hours once a week so you come in to teach your class and itÂ’s Monday morning from 9 to 12. You get here, you teach, you Â’re done. You really don't see those people again until next Monday. ThereÂ’s the Â“occasional somebody stops by your door,Â” but theyÂ’re in other classes, theyÂ’re in clinic al. You may not be around a whole lot. Online theyÂ’re there all times of the day and night, every day of the week. If faculty members donÂ’t learn this lesson, that students are more in tegrated into their daily lives, that it is not just a one-day a w eek proposition, then it is likely they are still clinging to their previous methods of teaching and interacting with students Â– methods that are obsolete in the online environment. In addition to the constant need by stude nts for feedback, preparing for an online class is different from preparing for a face-to-f ace class. Â“So I think the realization is how much planning has to go ahead of time. Because even though you plan with your live course, you got your syllabus and you have th at part but you can change easier. Here everything has to be up and running.Â” The addi tional workload has implication for the traditional role of faculty, explained one of the participants. I think that, although you look at your teaching assignment, one: you have so much percentage for this one or that one itÂ’s a total joke beca use what IÂ’m hearing from the full professors is that their res earch has been dwindl ed. Why? Because if you do a good job on your Web classes a nd you have double students in there where does that leave the time to do th ese other two [research and service]?
225 Other faculty members were not as negativ e about the time demands and reported that they were pleasantly surprised by the flexibility, which enabled them to do research or participate in service activities. Demands made on online students could be somewhat different as well. Â“We have learned a lot about how much to expect from the students. And how many discussions do you want them to have or how to handle multiple questions?Â” Faculty members found themselves assigning websites and videos and other readings just because they easily could. Assignments were also easy to assign and faculty memb ers realized not only were they creating more work for themselves, but were overburdening the students as well. For example, students who participate in online cl ass discussions usually have to worry about grammar, spelling, or citing references. Â“We wo uldnÂ’t ask that in a liv e class. So thatÂ’s the biggest difference is I ask them to cite references.Â” Consequently, students sometimes complain that because of these requirements, online classes are more work. Faculty members reported attempting to balance the work load issues for online students so that work is comparable to live classes. Faculty members had not anticipated having good, or even much, communication with their online students, but, instead, repor ted finding themselves working much harder to stay connected than they anticipated. Several believed th at, by not actually looking the students in the eye, they were unable to have a significant learning relationship with their students. Â“So how do you make that connect ion? How do you get to know your students when you can't see them?Â” This lack of relationships, according to one faculty member, had affected the faculty evaluations. Â“I f ound that the SPOTS or student perception of
226 teaching evaluations are lower for the distan t modalities because they donÂ’t know you as well as they do live.Â” However, several faculty members were surprised to discover that, after putting in the extra effort, they actua lly fostered comparable, or even better, relationships than with their face-to-face students. Â“I tend to know more about some of my online students then I do about my in -class students.Â” This knowledge included learning processes as well as reve lations of personal information. I get to know them by what they've said about themselves. And you can kind of follow. Their threads are a reflection of who they are, so you can kind of see who's saying what. So I feel like I get to know them. In addition to getting to know the students better, many facu lty members reported that the online environment encouraged significantly more interaction than they anticipated. I think itÂ’s the ability to in teract individually with the students and so thatÂ’s ... you have the opportunity to do it (online) in a classroom. Even if you do interactive activities in a classroom you can't engage all 50 in the room at the same time. An assumption that faculty members who teach face-to-face are always aware of student needs and are always engaging students was addressed by a few individuals. Generally, these were graduate faculty members who felt that without physical presence they were unable to effectivel y reach students. Faculty members often found it more diffi cult to explain the course requirements and determine whether students understood the c ontent. Â“We have to be more careful to articulate the rules of educational engagement in our cl assroom, and I don't think we have to be so careful in the classroom itself.Â” Concern about the permanence of what was
227 written online as well worried some facult y. Â“I think sometimes when you respond online youÂ’re more careful what you write because once itÂ’s on there itÂ’s on there forever.Â” Making mistakes online with what faculty me mbers write was also identified by Jesse. What I find is a horrible challenge in doi ng online and online courses is itÂ’s like writing a book without an editor. So ther eÂ’s nobody in there except me doing this and it might take you five hours to fix up the module for this year, make sure the links work, make sure everythingÂ’s OK. You get it all done. Well there's nobody to go in and say, Â”Are those diseases that you have on this place the same diseases covered here or are there mismatches?Â” Which does nothing for confused students and that shouldnÂ’t be. Faculty members in this study rarely discu ssed support staff, who, if available, could have assisted in tasks such as the one described above. This same faculty member, however, had indicated prefer ring to do the work on her ow n without relying on support staff. The inability to Â“switch from one [teachi ng] format to anotherÂ” because students are not understanding the conten t is lost in the online class, and faculty members report that without constant ongoing di alog they are unable to discer n potential issues. Â“How to get students engaged in the c ourse content online. ItÂ’s not the same [as in] face-to-face kind of contact.Â” Addressing student needs to understand assignments and directions challenged some of the faculty. Â“They kind of struggle with questions about whatÂ’s really required and Â‘How much do I need to do?Â’ and Â‘WhatÂ’s this paper really like?Â’ as opposed to their classroom where theyÂ’re ri ght there face-to-face and you can say it,
228 explain things [questions] that people might have.Â” This assumes that students always understand verbal interactions of faculty. Some faculty members discovered that, ju st as there are faculty members who are not appropriate to teach online, there are students who should not be online students. Â“There are just some people who are not self-motivated enough. There are people who also donÂ’t have the right cons titution; theyÂ’re always so nervous that theyÂ’re missing something.Â” Several faculty members who are strong supporters of online education have counseled certain students away from taking online classes. One participant stated that faculty members would never say a student is not appropriate for live classes, but the opposite is not true. However, another partic ipant believes that th e students who do not do well online are the same ones who are not particularly motivated in face-to-face classes. She does, however, advise students not to take online courses if they want a more social experience. One faculty memberÂ’s experience of actually teaching online was more disappointing than she anticipated. Believing th at she would have oppor tunities to utilize her extensive technical abilities, she disc overed this was not the case in actuality. I think the only problem was the realiza tion that there was a limitation to what was available, to what technologically our support people could o ffer. And that if I didn't know how to do it myself it wasnÂ’t going to get done. But I didn't have time to learn java and all that kind of stuff. Even more discouraging was that when sh e did attempt to provide something more interactive and intere sting, students complained. Â“Wha t I have found typically here:
229 whatÂ’s done is you put up a PowerPoint and r eading assignments and this very droll and dry and not very productive. So I've become somewhat disillusioned with it over the years.Â” This faculty member wa s at a satellite campus for SU 2, which may have impacted the experience due to lack of sufficient technical support and infrastructure at that institution. Research Question 4. To what degree did in stitutional support and in frastructure impact faculty experiences? In this section, desc riptions of the types and extent of support, including technical support and training, are described for each of the colleges included in this study. Support and infrastructure varied among the four uni versities but was identified as important by all participants. SU1 has 40 full-time nursing fa culty members. Participants report that they were the first online nursing program in the Florida state university system. SU1 offers four entirely online program tracks: RN-to-BSN, plus three mastersÂ’ degrees. Other masterÂ’s degree students can take core courses online. Most classes at SU1 are offered as hybrid or online classes. There are no support staff or in structional designers within the college of nursi ng. All services are offered through the university. Of the universities included in this study, SU1 provides the most extensive training and preparation to faculty members pr ior to their beginning to teach online. All SU1 faculty members must attend this semest er-long course prior to teaching online. The course Â“goes through the mechanics of it and the pedagogy and how to do it.Â” The program lasts for an entire semester Â“a nd you go for six hours ever y Friday the whole semester. At the end you make a presentation. Y ou have to essentially show at least your
230 first and second module done completed in a presentation.Â” Upon completion of the training program, each faculty member receive s extensive technical support as well as continued support from an instructional desi gner who is specifically assigned to that individual. Faculty members indicate that th ey have a number they can call on weekends. The university website indicates that student s receive extensive on line technical support through a variety of resources. A help desk for phone support is also available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Students who need after-hours support can submit tickets to the help desk. Upon completion of the online course de velopment program, faculty members are expected to support other faculty who are new to the process. Â“We actually are mentors to everyone else coming in. So I always have a couple coming in talking about, Â”HowÂ’d you set yours up? Â“Why did you do it that way?Â” SU1 also provides templates that faculty members can use to build their courses. This saves time and effort according to members. Â“I created a fully online course myself and did it in a week and it really wasn't hard with the use of templates.Â” Of the five persons interviewed from this university, only one reported that the required training was very helpful. She desc ribes her experience w ith the instructional designer who taught the class as an awakeni ng into how to teach online versus teaching live. Â“Well, I look back now and thank God for him to finally get me to think straight. In other words, I just once again was going to pour my live class into the web software and that would be the end of it.Â” This faculty member was located at a satellite campus and had an administrative position. She was also the only one who did not have a doctoral
231 degree, which may have indicated a difference in training or attitude. The other faculty members had mixed feelings about the quality of the training received. Two SU1 nursing faculty members had received extensive trai ning in online teaching prior to coming to SU1 and felt that the course was insufficient compared to their previous experiences. One other participant had a degree in education and, according to her, the course focused on creating educational objectives, in which, as a nurse and an educat or, she was already well versed. Instead, she reports that she Â“Â…learned along the way because our online course development class gave me absolute ly no preparation...T hey taught me nothing about how to effectively engage students in discussion and even how to mechanically set up experiences to maximize student learni ng.Â” The most common need expressed by faculty members was more extensive tr aining on the technology. One participant described it as Â“frustrating.Â” Â“T he frustrating part is that it really doesn't offer a lot about the hands-on kinds of things. So the hands-on kinds of things we learn by helping each other or there is a support group online th at you can ask questions.Â” Other faculty members also reported learning from colleague s whenever possible on how to design and build online courses and sharing information on how to teach. SU2 has 69 full-time faculty members. The only fully online program is the postmasterÂ’s doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree. Other program tracks offer some courses online and preference for enrollment in these courses is given to students who live outside the college area. SU2 does not ha ve a formal program for training faculty members to teach online. However, one faculty member was described as being Â“a techie, and he switched over to being the webmaster and helped us.Â” That individual is now
232 assigned full-time to support online teaching and learning within the college as well as to provide online testing and email coordinati on. Several technical support staff are also available within the college. Various workshops are offered on the collegeÂ’s main campus: Â“We have live workshops and live clas ses periodically for faculty where we all go together and we learn about new applications and new programs and so forth.Â” The university also offers workshops for faculty members. Â“We have the university as a whole offers classes for all the faculty, if you choose to go. You are not required, but itÂ’s up to you.Â” These classes are not offered on the satellite campuses. Â“We don't necessarily have access to them, unless we travel to main campus,Â” was reported by a faculty member who taught at a satellite campus. One of the participants who was among th e first to teach online at SU2Â’s college of nursing was sent by administration to severa l training programs and was initially given time to prepare online courses. Other facu lty members, however, who came later to teaching online, did not receive these options and, instead, relied heavily on co-workers for support and assistance. Sharing courses was common and most faculty members at SU2 began teaching their first online courses by c opying an existing course. One of the participants did have extensive education in online teaching prio r to employment at SU2 and was very knowledgeable in technology. The other facult y members relied heav ily on this person, which she found somewhat a burden due to he r own workload demands. Â“The thing about my experience is because I do have that expe rience is why I'm called on to help some of the other faculty. Which is fine, but it does sometimes get to the point where I got a ton
233 of work and ...Â” Faculty-led seminars and Q&A sessions were held by the nursing faculty to help orient and update faculty members who taught online. A search of the website for informa tion about online support showed that phone support was available Monday through Friday from 8 until 5. There were extensive Â“getting startedÂ” pages on the university webs ite that provided tutorials and answers to frequently asked questions for both faculty members and students. SU3 currently has 31 fulland part-tim e faculty members. SU3 has a number of online and partially online program tracks. Th ese include the RN-to-BSN, masterÂ’s in nursing education, and the nurse practitioner track, which is be ing phased out in favor of the new DNP track. The DNP track requires 24 hours to be taken on-campus. It was reported by one of the participants at SU3 th at they are the most wired campus in the state of Florida. In addition to campus-wide technical support, th ere were two full-time support persons within the college. Developm ent for faculty members teaching online is provided by the university. Â“They have a whole list of about 20 seminars that they hold all during the semester. And, for instance, the semester I came in, and they start from the very simplest thing about di stance learning.Â” Another faculty lamented that the courses were not mandatory, indicating that many of the online courses were lacking in quality because of the lack of partic ipation. Â“IÂ’d say the main catch there is that theyÂ’re not required. So a lot of people Â– thatÂ’s why we wind up with these Â‘correspondence coursesÂ” Â– a lot of people donÂ’t use any of the classes. I was here for a little while before I realized they were available and I started to use th em.Â” These courses are offered on satellite campuses on a very limited basis and genera lly only include the most basic offerings.
234 A review of the website shows that s upport for online learning is offered until 7:00 p.m. throughout the week and on weekends from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for students. Faculty, however, receive technical support Â“all hours of the day and night.Â” Participants reported that the university pr ovides a specific individual for each college. This individual has a PhD in information t echnology and will come and work one-on-one with faculty members who want to explore new methods and technologies. One faculty member reported that an instru ctional designer had been hire d for the college at one time but was not successful in getting faculty to change existing courses. Two of the faculty members interviewed were at a satellite cam pus that was over two hours from the main campus, so they relied primarily on phone cont act with the main campus but were very pleased with the quality of support they received. Â“All support is on main campus. You use the help line and you can type in or call and IÂ’ve done both. TheyÂ’re really good.Â” However, visits from technical personnel for consultation were not available to faculty on the satellite campus either. A librarian offere d some support to all di sciplines located at the satellite campus. SU4 has 48 nursing faculty members. The RN-to-BS program is entirely online and masterÂ’s program tracks are partially on line. SU4Â’s college of nursing provides the most extensive technical support for both facu lty and students of a ny of the universities interviewed for this study. Th e college of nursing, along with one other college at the university, opted to use an outside vendor fo r their content management system rather than rely on university resour ces. Â“The reason at that time was primarily technical support for both faculty and students. Our suppor t here at the university had one person
235 who did all the BlackBoard, education support, t echnical stuff. If you sent a thing to the help desk, you could wait two weeks for them to even read them.Â” The vendor provides 24/7 support to students and faculty. All facu lty members at SU4 re ported being pleased with the support they received. The ability to contact faculty support persons at all hours and the ease of use were mentioned frequentl y. Â“My computer skills are not my forte at all. But we were using [outsi de vendor] format, which is a really very user-friendly format to me. The technicians are available 24/7.Â” Faculty members reported utilizing this service at odd hours when they had actual time to work on their courses. The system is supported by a $100 fee per online course charged to students who take fully online classes. Faculty reported th at students do not object to the fee. Â“Some people say, Â“I spend more than 100 dollars dr iving to campus for 15 weeks in gas and the hassle of parking and the hassle of gas and al l that.Â” In addition to support, the vendor also provides on-site techni cal training as requested but does not provide any online teaching development or instructional design advice. Â“They did send a person in to initially to do sort of a Â‘Here's our platform here's how you get into the edit mode,Â’ real technical, the nuts and bolts how to use it, and it was a t echnical type person who came, not an educator person. So they couldnÂ’t talk to us about how to teach online.Â” Initially there were no workshops or training offere d on how to teach online and faculty members relied on other faculty members who had some previous experience with teaching online. The situation, however, has improved. Â“Now we have quite a bit of support. We have workshops that are available now on the main campus and they do bring them to the
236 distance campus when there is a large enough group. But now you can't offer an online course unless you've had training.Â” The need for institutional resources is vital to effective on line education. Having adequate technical support increases satisfaction among faculty and students and enhances the learning experience when stude nts do not have to spend time and effort struggling with the technology. The universi ties in this study a ll provided technical support as well as faculty development program s. However, the degree of that support varied at the institutions and also among campuses. Faculty members who had 24/7 technical support reported bei ng satisfied with th e online teaching experience, as opposed to some of the other schools where facu lty reported being disi llusioned with the experience. Since many enjoyed the flexibil ity of schedule provided by online teaching, the ability to get help when they needed it was seen as invaluable. At SU2, which did not have extended support hours, some faculty members felt somewhat burdened in their effo rts to provide support to thei r colleagues. This group also reported that students were unwil ling to participate in online learning activities that were engaging and went beyond reading or listening to online lectures. Sinc e this behavior was not reported by participants at other univers ities, it is interesting to note possible differences, the most obvious being the lack of technical support hours available to students. If students are alrea dy struggling to deal with the basic technology and not able to get sufficient assistance, engaging in some more complex multi-media experiences might seem overwhelming to them. This may have been even further exacerbated by the fact that support was located at the main campus, and these students were at satellite
237 locations and did not have face-to-face acce ss if needed. The faculty member who reported this behavior also mentioned that those who managed the system discouraged the use of multi-media tools when developi ng content and restrict ed what could be uploaded even though the tools we re available to faculty. Online education, particul arly online nursing educati on, is not confined to standard business hours, and the need to pr ovide extended support should be thoroughly investigated. Additionally, faculty member s from SU4, including the faculty members who were at satellite campuses, who used an outside vendor for support were all generally more satisfied than those members w ho utilized internal resources as they all had access to 24/7 online support for them as well as their students. The response to the needs of both faculty members and students was attributed to the fact that the vendor was a for-profit organization who hired prof essional, knowledgeable support personnel capable of addressing the need s of faculty members and st udents. One individual also reported tracking maintained by the vendor that assisted in verifyi ng student activities. Clearly, as technology continues to be a large part of the edu cational experience, the need for efficient technical support will only grow and to remain competitive and ensure that students and faculty members are focusing on education rather than technical issues, public universities need to use fo r-profit organizati ons as a model. Faculty development workshops and instru ctional design resources were also seen as important to participants. SU1, however, was the only university that had a mandatory program for all faculty members who teach online. Several issues were uncovered by faculty members at other institutions with the resources that were available: 1) The time
238 to attend these workshops was often lacking, and administration did not always promote or even inform faculty of their availabilit y. 2) Faculty members re ported needing ongoing support and development in the form of me ntoring after completion of the workshops. The need to provide workshops at times and places convenient for all faculty members is an important factor in providing rigorous on line education. Faculty members at satellite campuses reported having to drive several hou rs to a main campus to attend workshops, which inhibited their ability to keep up with the latest tech niques and technology. Additionally, the need for uti lizing mentors as faculty members begin to practice online teaching is a major factor addressed by part icipants in this study as well as in the literature in faculty developmen t that is usually overlooked in preparing faculty members to teach online. Research Question 5. Based on the framework of transformative learning, what evidence of transformation can be iden tified through an analysis of th e experiences described by nursing faculty? Transformative learning occurs when a dults experience a di sorienting dilemma that challenges one of their assumptions. In this study, faculty members all faced the experience of being told they were going to teach online. In some cases, the faculty members initiated the move to teach online, bu t most, when asked what prompted them to teach online, replied with Â“I was told to.Â” While many had not anticipated that it would make much difference in thei r lives and roles as faculty members, they eventually discovered that was not the case. When aske d to describe their experience, many found that their previous assumptions and beliefs about online education we re challenged. Â“ItÂ’s
239 a different way of teaching and learning,Â” reported one of the participants. Another shared a similar belief, Â“I think the whole id ea of Â‘differentÂ’ is something that people have to know. You canÂ’t just move from one format to another.Â” One participant described a transformational experience th at came about when meeting with an instructional designer to prep are her first online class: So, I can remember, the inst ructional designer met with me, and he let me go on and on and on for about 15 minutes about how I got the PowerPoints down and I already got the exams down, so this shoul d not be too much of a problem. He was very patient with me for about 15 minut es then all of a sudden he went, Â‘No, thatÂ’s not how Web education is. Forget what you did in the live face-to-face classroom. This is a whole different ball game.Â” It was like a wake-up call and I said, Â‘What are you saying?Â’ The participant went on to describe how when she looks back now she is almost embarrassed at what her assumptions were about how to teach online. Now she works with the instructional design team to me ntor other faculty members new to online teaching. Another area that was transformative fo r faculty members was the discovery of the power of giving students the responsibility for thei r own learning and becoming facilitators rather than authority figures. Â“ItÂ’s more participative,Â” stated one faculty member, indicating the egalitarian nature of the online environment. That sentiment was echoed by other faculty members as well. Â“A s an online instructor, IÂ’m more of a facilitatorÂ… It puts students more in charge.Â” One veteran online instructor reported that
240 Â“I see myself as a facilitator of active learningÂ…When you see it that way, you see that the students have that much more responsibil ity in their learning a nd you must create that environment and that community of learners.Â” Faculty members described that after their first experiences teaching online they went back and started over in order to: Â…develop content thatÂ’s more interactive, that keeps the students more engaged, that makes them go out and look for informa tion in areas that th eyÂ’re interested in that might not necessarily be my topi cal area but itÂ’s theirs. And therefore it becomes more productive to th e end user in terms of what they can do with it afterwards. Other participants also recognized the valu e in teaching online to foster lifelong selfdirected learning in students. I sometimes talked to students onlin e about, you know itÂ’s lifelong learning, especially in the fields weÂ’re in, with nursing. The things we can teach a student today in whatever format in this buildi ng, when they graduate in six months and get out in practice, you know thereÂ’ s a new IV pump. ThereÂ’s a different medication. Things change so fast in probably any profession that you always have to be learning new things. You need those basics. But thatÂ’s ongoing learning, and I think thatÂ’s one thing you can do more so with the online course. Not relying on a textbook. That students learned to search out and find information on their own was seen as important by most of the faculty as they e volved into online faci litators. To accomplish this, many relied on threaded discussions to evaluate student understanding and guide
241 them into becoming independent thinkers. Â“I can see where their thinking is and prompt, and, you know, sort of direct their thinking in another way or just enhance what theyÂ’re already thinking.Â” One particip ant reports that when student s participate in discussions, she is not as concerned about them repea ting information they learned in their books; instead, she was Â“more concerned about their ab ility to question, and so I find that itÂ’s very effective in an online format.Â” To accomplish this, she utilizes Â“coaching the students to engage each other in deeper thi nking about the contentÂ… The idea is not to answer the question. The idea is to explore th e content, as opposed to a right or wrong answer to a question.Â” Utilizi ng these methods was one of th e primary ways that faculty members believed that they had become facilitators. One participant had always favored a styl e of teaching that involved lecturing but transformed her thinking after teaching online. Â“My classroom teaching is very much a result of what I, as a student, like. Which is don't ask questions, but that doesn't work online. So itÂ’s much more of a discussion c ourse.Â” Knowing when to facilitate and when to teach is not always something that on line faculty naturally know, but one faculty reported finding the significance of fac ilitation as he began teaching online. Facilitation versus the teachi ng moment is a biggie. I th ink you need to learn how to really hear for what theyÂ’re aski ng you. Probably no diffe rent than listening orally when people are talking to you what are they really saying, rather than just reacting to you. But I need to be very thoughtful in my responses to students. Learning to facilitate is something that faculty members need to learn if they are going to be successful as online educators. Not accepting the need to work in this way will likely
242 create frustration in members who feel that they must c ontrol all aspects of student learning. As one participant expressed, Â“We ar e each teachers and learners, you all bring expertise to this course, that I may not have.Â” Most faculty members recognized through the experience that interactive online learning experiences were necessary to engage online students. One faculty member who reported just uploading PowerPoint presenta tions at first now adds opportunities for students to take some responsibility for thei r online learning. Â“ThereÂ’s very few slide shows [now] and very few supplemental note s and a lot more discussion and searching for information.Â” The interactivity has result ed not only in better online learning but in better learning overall, as reporte d by some of the faculty. I think the one thing online; everybody has to do all the work. You can't sit in the classroom with 50 people and go in the b ack corner today because you know that you didn't read the book and hope that everybody talks a lot because the discussion gets graded by Â‘Did you particip ate?Â’. So the person whoÂ’s sitting in the corner not participating doesn't get a ny discussion points this week. So I think in some ways it can result in more lear ning, better learning, because they have to do the activities there in that course. This was one of the more significant transf ormative experiences indi cated by participants, discovering the power of student pa rticipation in online education. Another area in which faculty memb ers experienced transformation was in discovering that the ways in which they taught before, particularly in relation to time, were not applicable in this environment and in order to be successful, they needed to
243 restructure their approach to teaching and student interaction. Â“Because if the students are there all week, you have to be there at a diffe rent time too.Â” In cons equence, this entails Â“breaking out of that mold that we teach once a week.Â” The tradeoff, according to one participant, was that faculty could ha ve more control of their schedules. I think itÂ’s the time management issue. I personally like it because I stay home many days and I can work on my scholarsh ip and my writing things and teach my course. As opposed to you have to stop everything, get dressed, come to campus, teach for three hours, and go home. Several faculty members talked about time ma nagement, and one participant warned that it is important for faculty to be disciplin ed regarding their ow n schedules. Â“If weÂ’re expecting the student to be time-managed a nd self-directed, then I think we should honor that by being just as self-managed and tim e-directed as they are.Â” Faculty members reported developing a whole new paradigm th at redefined how they looked at their teaching responsibilities. The time was more flex ible and more attuned to the needs of the students. Faculty members also described that, in addition to time, Â“the whole idea of presence is very different online than it is live.Â” Faculty members discovered that even though Â“there is a lot more time-intensive work to stay connected to students in an online format,Â” there were ways in which they coul d relate to students that was almost as effective or, in some cases, more effective than in face-to-face situations. Faculty in this study reported that they discovered how greg arious students could get if the opportunity was present for them to do so. Â“So it went from a very impersonal online person's name
244 to all of a sudden you get this chatter going on because they've all introduced themselves. And surprisingly they tell you a lot about themse lves and it gives them all personalities.Â” In this study, several faculty memb ers showed evidence of transformative learning through the experience of teaching on line. Though some had no expectations of what it would be like, several had preconcei ved notions about the simplicity and ease, lack of communication, and lack of rigor that were challenged by their experiences. Several faculty members reported that, not onl y had they been changed by the experience in their approach to online education, but they had used the acquired knowledge to transform their face-to-face cl asses, as well. Their belief was that if active learning worked well online and created more independe nt thinkers who could be responsible for their own learning, this philos ophy should also be applied to students who were in their face-to-face classes. A number of the f aculty members described themselves as Â“facilitators of learningÂ” and, while some contended that th is had always been one of their principals, a few recognized that th ey had been changed by the online learning experience. Facilitation was not the only transformation described by faculty members. The traditional ways in which they were used to teaching and interacting were also challenged. To survive in this new environm ent, they had to rethink their way of approaching schedules and comm unicating with students. Some of the participants not only accepted this new paradigm but also embraced it, enjoying the freedom of not having to adhere to a set day and time and actually having new and, in some cases, better relationships with students. Though the issues of time and effort were still present, many
245 of the participants found themselves moving to a whole new construc t regarding the role of faculty member and how they de scribed their methods and values. Several participants did not appear to have had any transformative learning experiences. There was no relationship among th ese individuals regarding location, years of experience, or preparation. Two of the faculty members who did not have transformative learning experiences were very experienced online educators who had extensive training. One of these individuals had a strong dislike fo r online education and felt that faculty, particularly graduate faculty members, needed to be more involved in research than in the preparation it took to teach online. Two other individuals who showed no evidence of transformation were both at SU2Â’s satellite campus. One had extensive experience and training, and the ot her had been teaching online for a year. Development opportunities, support, and other forms of guidance were lacking. Both also reported issues with difficult stude nts in their online classes. Other faculty members who reported tran sformative experiences were all over the spectrum. Two examples include Stacey a nd Dale. Dale, who was located on a main campus, had a graduate certificate in distan ce education, a PhD in nursing education, and had taught online for a number of years, de scribed how the experi ence changed how she perceived herself as an edu cator and how it would influen ce her methods if she ever returned to teaching face-toface classes. Stacey, who was located on a satellite campus, reported having had minimal preparation, had a MS degree, and had been teaching online for a year, also showed evidence of tran sformative learning. Stacey reported discovering that communication with online students could be meaningful that facilitating
246 discussions was a necessary skill to foster learning, and that ongoing dialogue brought awareness of student needs. Stacey also desc ribed discovering new ways of working in order to adapt to student schedules. Thes e two extremes indicate that education, preparation, years of experien ce, and location were not indicators of faculty membersÂ’ ability to become facilitators of learning. However, both par ticipants did express a strong desire to make themselves available both phys ically and emotionally to students and to adapt their schedules to meet student needs. Discussion of Research Questions Participants in this study described th eir own experiences and the impact of the institutional framework in how they began and continued to teach online. Experiences vary for faculty members, based on the institutional support a nd preparation they received to teach online. However, persona l philosophies, expectations, and intrinsic motivation of faculty members can also impact the type of experience individuals have when teaching online and determine whet her they will learn and grown through a transformative learning experience or whether they will cling to their initial assumptions regardless of their validity. However, the conc ern is that even the most highly motivated faculty member will eventually Â“burn outÂ” if basic support and infrastructure needs are not addressed. Despite significant differences among faculty members and institutions relating to their preparation and support, as well as othe r factors, there were experiences common to most of the participants, and these were reflect ed in the discussion of themes and research questions. Time was a major factor that im pacted every single faculty member. The
247 additional time to teach online, the lack of time to particip ate in training, and the varied schedules of nursing students were all issues that each participant had to confront. The inadequate faculty development and training pr ocess evident in most institutions left faculty ill equipped to handle th e online environment, and th e transition was frequently a bumpy, stressful experience made more difficu lt by increases in class sizes and lack of support from administration. The desire for peer support or mentor s was expressed by most participants, and, when these were l acking, faculty members often sought out their peers for guidance and quasi-mentoring. Though pa rticipants from the satellite campuses of all four universities were interviewed, no participants fr om SU2Â’s main campus were included, due to the inab ility to recruit individuals from this school. Since the experience of several of the faculty members at the sa tellite campus was not very positive, it would have been beneficial to determine what di fferences might be reported by individuals from the main campus. Many of the participants showed eviden ce of transformative learning. This came in the form of the move from authority figur e to facilitator of l earning, the acceptance of new ways to connect with students through a re structuring of their schedules, or utilizing the various tools available in the online environment. Most of the findings in this study were suppor ted by the literature described in chapter 2. Additionally, a major study conducted by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities was recently conducted coveri ng 231 interviews with individuals, administrators, faculty members, and student s, at 45 public universities; 11,000 responses were received. (McCarthy & Samors, 2009). Comm ents from the survey were looked at
248 but were not analyzed, so the data presente d is quantitative, as opposed to this study, which provides detailed faculty views and, consequently, provides specifics for identifying the needs of faculty members transitioning to online teaching. Many of the findings in the report are similar to the findings in this study. The survey concluded that there is a need to address faculty development, adequacy of resources, recognition of time to develop and teach online, and learning outcomes. All these issues emerged as themes from the interviews for this study. Faculty members reported dissatisfaction with admini strative support for developing and teaching online courses and programs. In this study, facu lty specifically addre ssed issues such as lack of time, increased student enrollment s, and impact on othe r responsibilities. The survey revealed that roughly 64% of faculty members believe that online learning takes more effort to teach and 85% report that course development takes more time. In this study, however, all faculty memb ers reported that it takes more time to do both; however, many of the faculty members stated that flexibility was an important factor that helped compensate for the disparit y. However, in both studies, the lack of time was identified as one of the barriers to presenting more engaging, interactive online learning experiences. Most of the institutio ns in the survey provided instructional designers. In this study, only one institution reported working with in structional designers and, overall, this did not seem to be an important factor for the participants. The survey discussed that campuses ha ve pursued assessing fees for online learning programs. In this study, two of the in stitutions reported asse ssing fees for online programs. SU4 utilizes the fees to provide a content management system from an outside
249 vendor that they believe provides superior support and service. SU 3 indicates that the fees are used to house students when they co me to campus to participate in clinical courses. Other uses of the fees were not identified. The survey revealed that faculty member s at some institutions noted that the training provided for course development is not mandatory, while at others it is required. In this study, only one institution reported that training is required. All others indicated that training was optional. Faculty members in both studies indicated that professional support is vital. The survey also addressed intellectual property policies as an area of concern. However, in this study, only one person even mentioned this, and other faculty members who were directly asked said that it was not an issue. Ma ny faculty members in this study reported freely sharing their courses. Similar to the survey, which found that the majority of persons teaching online were more experien ced faculty, those who participated in this study were seasoned, experienced faculty me mbers who had taught for a number of years. Faculty members in the survey expr essed concern regarding learning outcomes. The survey indicated that 80% of faculty members who had never taught online thought learning outcomes were inferior. In this surv ey, prior to beginning to teach online, many faculty members also expressed their belief th at online education was inherently inferior. The experience, however, led most of them to believe that student outcomes were as good as those of students in face-to-face classes. A majority of faculty members in the survey reported teaching online because of student needs. Only 12% of those surveyed reported teaching online because they were
250 required to do so. This is different from th e results in this study; however, this study addressed what was the original prompt that had led them to teach online. Had I asked why they continued to do so, the outcome may have been different. The report indicates three recommenda tions, which are congruent with the findings of this study as well. However, this study looks at the expe riences and needs of individual faculty members; the report a ddresses other areas, such as administration, university infrastructure, and student experiences: 1. Identifying strategies to acknowledge a nd recognize the additional time and effort faculty members invest in online education. 2. Developing messages and commu nications mechanisms that effectively incorporate online learning into the fabric and mission of the institution. 3. Applying effective measures of l earning outcomes for online courses. One major difference in the two studies is that the survey looked at faculty members from each institution without iden tifying the specific disciplines. Nursing programs have needs and face challenges not ad dressed in the report. This study focused on the specific needs of nursing faculty a nd students. However, the basic issues are similar and indicate the impact these factors have on all online learning endeavors. Much has been written about the nursi ng shortage in the review of literature. This shortage is exacerbated by the shortage of nursing faculty. The need to recruit, train, and retain nursing faculty is greater than ever. Without preparing and supporting them adequately, these numbers will continue to be precarious.
251 Implications for Practice In this study, nursing faculty members re ported on their successes and issues in the online environment. This section desc ribes some of the lessons learned from analyzing the experiences described by the pa rticipants and how these lessons can be utilized to improve the experiences for other nursing faculty. Three different groups, faculty developers, administrato rs, and faculty members, are a ddressed in this section and implications for practice are described for each. Faculty Development Recommendations Faculty members who are going to teach onl ine need to have training in order to successfully navigate the environment. Most models of faculty development described by the participants were not entirely successf ul. Traditional models involved a centralized faculty training area that offered a series of classes on a variety of topics related to online teaching. One university offered a mandatory program that all faculty members were required to attend. The program lasted for an entire semester and participants had to produce at least one module by the end of the cl ass. This program, while extensive, was only reported by one participant as being ex cellent. These programs, at all campuses, were lacking several key components that pa rticipants cited as important. The following is a model of faculty development and an ongoing support program that addresses the needs of the nursing faculty member s interviewed in this study. 1. Provide workshops that are offered online and at alternative ti mes. Most of the training opportunities provided for facu lty members were face-to-face. Though some individuals indicated preferring th is, nursing faculty members are frequently
252 not available to attend these sessions due to clinical and prac tice responsibilities. Additionally, many faculty members have not experienced an online class themselves and teaching this information live does not give them the learning opportunity of understanding the student pe rspective. Therefore, workshops for faculty members should be provided online, and live ones should be offered, at least occasionally, during non-standard business hours. Options to meet developers face-to-face are st ill valuable and, in some cases, may be necessary, but faculty members who are infrequen tly on campus need alternatives to traditional face-to-face workshops offered during Â“business hours.Â” Also, content for faculty development workshops shoul d be identified by individuals who are experienced with teaching online. Freque ntly, faculty development groups are out of touch with the day-to-day issues fa ced by faculty, particularly nursing faculty members, and workshops do not adequately meet the needs of the participants. Even at SU1, which had such an extensive faculty development program, experienced faculty members were still r ecruited to validate the lessons delivered by the faculty development staff. 2. Evaluate the educational needs of facu lty members who are beginning to teach online, in order to provide them with th e types of training th ey actually need. Do they have an educational background? Ar e they technologically savvy? Do they know what resources are available to th em on campus? Look at these different factors through interviewing or assess ing faculty members and recommend a series of workshops that meet the need s of the participants Many nursing faculty
253 members do not have backgrounds in e ducation and are in need of basic knowledge on how to teach; others have a dvanced degrees in education and are likely to feel their time is wasted by a seminar on writing course objectives. Faculty members who are going through a program to teach online could Â“test outÂ” of modules that address skill sets they already have and focus instead on workshops that meet their specific needs. 3. Provide opportunities for one-on-one training and assessment of faculty skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Faculty deve lopers should meet individually at least once per semester with all faculty members who teach online to enable them to address issues they are having and, al so, to ensure they are utilizing all the technology in the most efficacious manner. Despite the multiple modes of communication, the volume of emails and announcements frequently Â“buryÂ” the items that are not immediately identifie d as necessary. One-on-one sessions enable faculty members to catch up and even enhance their skills. General-skills classes often do not reach those who ar e either far behind or way ahead. 4. Provide a mentor for all faculty members during their first semester of teaching online. The mentor must be an experi enced online educator who can provide guidance and support to the new online teacher without overwhelming or undermining the lead teacherÂ’s authority. This individual needs to have some training on how to mentor and must have significant experience successfully teaching online, based on student outcomes or evaluations. Mentors could be retired faculty members, faculty who are compensated for performing this service,
254 or faculty who work within the college in instructional design capacities. Mentors would be added to the online class and given instructor access. They would consult with the faculty member about the original set up and design of the course, indicating what works. Another important function would be to advise faculty members where they should be sp ending their time. Ar e they spending too much time answering technical questions instead of referring these questions to IT? Are they not providing sufficient feedb ack in a timely manner? Do they need to monitor discussion boards more closely to ensure incorrect information is not being disseminated among students? Do they need to step back and let students take the lead in discussion s? Another alternative is to have new faculty co-teach with experienced faculty members or pa rticipate in courses in an Â“assistant teachingÂ” role, giving them the opportunity to follow an experienced teacher in the online environment. If neither one of these options is possible, forming an ongoing support group for new faculty memb ers could be fostered. This group would be led by an experienced faculty or instructional t echnologist. The group could meet online, either through sy nchronous technology or phone conferencing or by posting comments via closely monito red discussion boards. The importance is in getting faculty members to teach w ith someone before actually going it alone or, at least, in providing them with additional guidance during their initial semester of teaching online. 5. Provide a means for faculty members to co llaborate with one another. This could include meetings, live or online, but more likely, it will includ e listservÂ’s, blogs,
255 or wikis. Faculty members in this survey often felt more comfortable asking their colleagues for advice than referring to in structional designers or technologists. Additionally, this is a place for facu lty members to share ideas on teaching methods. Ideally, faculty devel opers could capture this content into a database to utilize for new faculty members as a res ource, which could go into a website as described in the next step. 6. A website with easily accessible and cl early written support documents and/or tutorials should be available and update d regularly for both faculty members and students. Nursing faculty members and st udents work non-traditional hours, and if they do not have access to 24/7 support, providing them with an online system with guidance and answers to basic ques tions is the next best thing. Faculty members in this study frequently reported that their work was completed at 2 a.m. on Saturday, and many students were repor ted being online at 1 a.m., which is when hospital shifts ended. 7. Collaborate with faculty members to desi gn templates and standards for course development. These tools will reduce faculty time to develop courses and ensure continuity for students. Dietz-Uhler, Fi sher, and Han (2008) showed that the use of standards improved student retention rates by 11%. Success was attributed to the fact that standards ensured that polic ies and expectations were clearly stated and that students were provided with rich interactive experiences. In this study, faculty members reported that standards re duced the time to develop their courses. Templates should not be so constricting th at they do not allow faculty members to
256 reflect their personalities w ithin the course but should be a guide that provides a structure that promotes a quality online course. There are existing standards that are evidence-based, such as Quality Matt ers, or faculty members can collaborate in developing their own branding. Even w ithout templates, standards can provide faculty members with a framework on which to develop a course. Administrative Recommendations Infrastructure is necessary in order to not only deliver eff ective online education, but also to ensure faculty and students are sa tisfied with the experience, which is key to retaining both. Administrators need to ensure that these f actors are accounted for when proposing or maintaining an existing pr ogram. Following are recommendations for administrators as they enhance the online ex perience for faculty members and attempt to ensure successful student outcomes: 1. Faculty members who are teaching online need rewards and recognition for the extra effort they are expending. This can come in the form of compensation or reduction of workload. Faculty members who are developing a new course should be given time or overload pay in order to develop the course. If faculty members are expected to take on large classes, this should also be addressed. One graduate faculty members in this study reported elim inating papers due to the volume of students and resorting to multiple-choice questions, thereby impacting the quality of learning opportunities for these students. 2. Administrators should requi re that faculty members who teach online receive adequate preparation to do so. Not only s hould administrators encourage, or even
257 require, that faculty members get preparati on to teach online, but they should also ensure that the faculty members have th e time and opportunities to do so. Faculty who go into teaching online without the necessary skills do a disservice to the students as well as to themselves. Ha ving unprepared faculty members teaching online also does not reflect well on the institution. 3. Sufficient support and technological infrastr ucture should be available to faculty members who teach online. If both facu lty and students struggle with the technology and have insufficient resources, then the courses will be more focused on dealing with the technology than on the content. Faculty members will resort to Â“low-techÂ” options even if this is not the best me thod for a particular lesson. Not all institutions can provide 24/7 s upport as SU4 does, but without some kind of reasonably reliable su pport and technology, faculty and students will be dissatisfied with the experience. 4. Administrators should take into account the differences in evaluation scores for faculty members who teach online. Those who teach online should not be denied tenure or promotion based on scores that are not only lower, but usually, smaller in volume than for those of their colleagues who teach face-to-face. Recommendations by some of the particip ants included using a lower mean or restructuring evaluations so that they are more in line with the online environment. For example, instead of saying, Â“Did faculty return your email within a timely manner?Â” which is subjectiv e, say Â“Did faculty return your email within 48 hours?Â” At one institution, f aculty members who were up for tenure
258 were discouraged from teaching online thereby limiting the opportunities for these individuals as well as possibly denying students faculty who may be needed. 5. Recognize and reward lead f aculty. Often, one faculty member is responsible for developing a course and sharing it with ot hers who are teaching the same section, or one faculty member is spending significant amounts of time unofficially mentoring those less experienced. Identif ying lead faculty members and providing compensation for their extra efforts not only will be more equitable, but will increase their satisfaction a nd willingness to continue in this role. Though faculty members often complain about their rights to intellectual prop erty, the issue is more often related to the lack of compensation they receive for developing the course to begin with and handing it off to other faculty members who are paid similarly, or even more. 6. Identify which faculty members should not be teaching online, and, whenever possible, make alternative selections. Forcing faculty members who have no desire, interest, or aptitude for teach ing online is counter-productive to the mission of the school. Some faculty members in this study reported being very Â“anti-onlineÂ” and, consequently, it is possi ble that students in these courses will not achieve the types of outcomes they might when a faculty member is committed to providing an exceptional learning experience. Faculty Recommendations Though, as described above, faculty me mbers need support and recognition to become successful online educators, they also need to look at different ways of working
259 and thinking about their role as educators. Listed below are so me of the areas that faculty, specifically nursing faculty, need to address in order to transi tion into the role of online educator: 1. Faculty members need to look at time from a different perspective. Standard hours of operation are no longer stable and student needs often dictate when faculty members can and should be availabl e. This fluidity of time also provides faculty members with opportunities to pur sue other goals now that they are no longer tied to a structured schedule. In this study, several participants reported major advantages once they were freed from traditional schedules requiring their presence on campus. This recommendation is not implying that faculty members do not need to set boundaries with student s, but, rather, that they do need to identify what values, in regard to time, can shift. Attempting to do a 9-to-5 day and then teaching all night or all weekend will likely lead to Â“burn out.Â” Several faculty members in this study who had on ce enthusiastically worked 24/7, were beginning to feel the strain of being continually availabl e. One participant stated that she often felt it was a choice between responding to students and mowing her lawn. Another faculty member had stated that she was available only during business hours, only to come to understa nd that, with nursing students, business hours were not easily defined. 2. Faculty members need to be open to ne w ways of communica ting and interacting with students. This study showed that electronic communicat ion could be very successful, but it did require some i nnovative dedication by faculty. Those who
260 were most satisfied with the results re ferred to having an ongoing dialogue with students and paying attention to what they sa id in order to know who they were as students and as people. Several used alte rnative methods, such as IMÂ’ing, Skype, or whatever would make their students f eel most comfortable, in order to be available in a variety of venues. Some ev en logged in at 1 a.m. when many of their students were actually online. Ultimately, many of the participants reported having relationships with students that were stronger than their experiences with their face-to-face students, but it did take effort and involved being available at unusual times and communicating via non-traditional means. 3. Faculty members need to be open to new ways of working with colleagues and support personnel. Teaching has been descri bed as usually a solitary task. In the online environment, however, experts reco mmend that faculty members work as part of a team. Support staff, instructiona l designers, and gra phic designers can all contribute to the development of an on line class, freeing up faculty to focus on teaching and assessment. Some faculty memb ers indicated they were reluctant to give up control of their courses and, at th e same time, lamented the time and lack of support they felt they needed. Lear ning how to let go of the non-teaching elements of the course will alleviate some of the stressors identified by faculty members teaching online. Sharing course s and ideas with colleagues is also important, as many of the participants in this study describe d beginning to teach online by copying an existing course. Ot her faculty members passed on their
261 courses to colleagues and, in turn, receive d feedback about what was or wasnÂ’t working well in the class, giving them an opportunity to improve. 4. Embrace new learning opportunities. Nurs ing faculty members often are not trained in pedagogical concepts. Doctoral programs in nursing often emphasize research to the exclusion of teaching, and masterÂ’s educated students are most often practitioners with little e xperience in classroom education. Though administrators should encourage and support faculty members in acquiring teaching and technology skills, this often does not happen. One faculty member at SU3 reported having been at the school fo r some time before realizing there were development opportunities. Faculty should en sure that they are able to take advantage of whatever workshops are o ffered and, if none are available, they should look for other opport unities with the direction of their supervisors. Acquiring these skills will enable faculty members to not only improve student outcomes, but to increase their own satisfa ction, as well, as they will have more knowledge and a greater ab ility to teach online. Discussion The recommendations provided in this section are based on the experiences related in this study as well as the literature. Faculty members described what worked for them in their journey from live to online education. They described what was needed, what they wished they had known before st arting to teach, and what they advised new faculty members to consider before they began teaching online. The most important lesson to take away from this is the need to include faculty voices in all aspects of
262 preparing online programs. Faculty memb ersÂ’ needs should be identified and acknowledged by administrators, faculty development groups, supporting staff, and technology departments. When online education is approached as a team effort, results can be more satisfying to faculty and stude nts, and student lear ning outcomes can be addressed more effectively, ensuring that online education is at least as rigorous as faceto-face courses. Recommendations for Further Research This study looked at 16 nursing faculty from four Florida state universities. Since nursing students, particularly t hose in RN-to-BS and graduate programs, tend to be older than traditional students and because they usually work non-traditional hours, expanding this research to other disciplines, such as public health, education, or math, could provide information to determine whether the need s expressed by nursing faculty members are different, based on discipline. This study identifies the development a nd preparation needs of faculty members as they transition to online educators. Oper ationalizing recommendations from this study and identifying their effectiveness either in student outcomes, retention, or faculty/student satisfaction would provide valid ation for the data and would serve as a model for online program development. Preparing the next gene ration of nursing faculty members to teach online should be an element of doctoral education in nursing as well as in other disciplines. Determining how to effectively include preparation of online educators in doctoral programs could provide another area of research. This could be accomplished by
263 identifying programs that have already be gun to address how to prepare doctorally prepared nursing educators a nd reporting on their methods. Mentoring was an important theme id entified in this study. Looking at how mentors can be developed and utilized in nur sing programs as well as in other disciplines would enable institutions to formulate e ffective plans for utilizing and preparing mentoring programs. Research on mentoring coul d look at factors such as what types of individuals make the best mentors and whether the role could be filled in some other way, such as through retired faculty members or instructional technologists. Whether mentors could be cross-discipline would be another factor in mentor research. Looking at what types of individuals nursing faculty will respect enough to ask for guidance should be part of this research. Creating presence and communicating w ith students combined to make up another important factor mentioned by most faculty members in this study. The best, most effective methods of developing rela tionships with students without burning out faculty would be a topic for research that could enhance the online teaching experience. Ensuring that students are understanding the content and how to do this most efficaciously, creating a unique faculty presen ce, and identifying student needs are all areas that faculty members in this study st ruggled with when teaching online. Though several studies in the literature identified this as an issue, there was little written regarding what methods were successful, part icularly with nursing students. Several faculty members in this study reported that th eir relationships with online students were even better than with face -to-face students. Looking at how these faculty members
264 achieved that level of communi cation would be a significant area to study in order to identify those methods that were most effective. Finally, looking at how institutions can achieve academic rigor, faculty/student satisfaction, and adequate infrastructure in a cost-efficient manner s hould be investigated. If the purpose of online educati on is to provide a quality e ducation to students who are unable to participate in traditional classes, th en administration must also consider how to do this in a way that sufficiently supports faculty members wit hout unduly burdening the students. In todayÂ’s competitive market, ve ry few institutions of higher learning can avoid delivering online education in order to attract students. Ho wever, proprietary schools can offer extensive services to st udents, though at a cost, and, though academic rigor is often questionable, students are attracted to the progr ams because of their convenience and support. Researching how to of fer these programs at public colleges and universities more efficiently could enable sc hools to improve their offerings and ensure that students receive affordab le, quality online education.
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279 Appendix A Interview Protocol Study Title: Nursing facultyÂ’s experiences in transitioning from a classroom to an online teaching role. The purpose of this study is to describe the experiences of nursing faculty who transitioned from live to online teaching. I am providing you with the questions that I intend to pursue during our face-to-face interview. In order to collect demographic info rmation regarding your employment and educational history, I would lik e to obtain a copy of your current curriculum vita. I would also like to obtain any copies of your online course sy llabi and/or topical outlines in order to learn more a bout your teaching strategies. 1. Tell me how you came to be a nurse educat or and about your cu rrent teaching role. 2. What prompted you to begin teaching online? 3. Think back to when you got your first onl ine teaching assignment, what were your assumptions and expectations about teaching online? 4. Please describe how you went about developing your first online class? 5. What role did your institution play in preparing you to teach online? 6. How do your initial assumptions compare to the actual experience of teaching online?
280 7. How did your methods for teaching online di ffer from those in your face-to-face courses? 8. What are the biggest differences that you have found between teaching face-to-face classes and teaching online classes? 9. The traditional role of faculty is define d as participation in teaching, research, and service. How has teaching on line impacted that role? 10. Is there anything else that you would like to add that might help in understanding your experience transitioning to online teaching?
281 Appendix B Informed Consent Social Sciences/Behavioral Adult Informed Consent University of South Florida Information for People Who Take Part in Research Studies The following information is being presente d to help you decide whether or not you want to be a part of a minimal risk res earch study. Please read carefully. If you do not understand anything, ask the Pers on in Charge of the Study. Title of Study: Nursing facultyÂ’s experiences in transitioning from a classroom to an online teaching role Principal Investigator: Denise Passmore, Doctoral Candidate Study Location(s): University of South Florida, Tampa You are being asked to participate because of your experience in the academic field of online nursing education. General Information about the Research Study The purpose of this study is to apply phenomenological research strategies to examine the experiences of nursing facu lty who transitioned from face-to-face
282 classroom to online teaching and to analy ze their reported experiences for evidence of transformative learning. The intention is to develop a rich, thick portrait of the participantsÂ’ experiences to gain greater insi ght into how faculty perceive their role in the online environment and whether there were significant differences from their role as classroom teachers. For purposes of this study, online nursing faculty refers to full or part-time faculty in a university-based nursing pr ogram who having begun their career in classroom teaching and have taught online for at least one year. Plan of Study You will be asked to part icipate in a live face-to-f ace interview at your location. Depending on the depth you choose to provide; interviews will be completed in 1 Â– 2 hours. If needed, you may be contacted by te lephone or email after the interview to clarify any questions that ma y arise. Subjects will also be asked to submit a copy of their vita, course syllabi, and/or topical outlines. Payment for Participation You will not be paid for pa rticipating in this study.
283 Appendix B (continued) Benefits of Being a Part of this Research Study By participating in this research stud y, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their perspectives on t opics related to the field in which they are considered experienced. Their perspective will provide valuable insight for preparing faculty for the role on online facilitator. Risks of Being a Part of this Research Study There are no known risks. Confidentiality of Your Records Your privacy and research records will be kept confidential to the extent of the law. Authorized research personnel, employees of the Department of Health and Human Services and the USF Institutional Review Board may inspect the records from this research project. The results of this study may be published. However, the data obtained from you will be combined with data from other peopl e in the publication. The published results will not include your name in the body of the paper. All interviews will be audio-taped and transcribed. The completed transcription will
284 be sent to each participant for review revisions and approval. Audio tapes, transcriptions, and researcherÂ’s notes w ill be maintained by the researcher both during and after the completion of the study. No direct quotations will be published without permission. Volunteering to Be Part of this Research Study Your decision to participate in this res earch study is complete ly voluntary. You are free to participate in this research study or to withdr aw at any time. If you choose not to participate, or if you wit hdraw, there will be no penalty or loss of benefits that you are entitled to receive. Questions and Contacts If you have any questions about this research study, contact Denise Passmore 813-326-0858 firstname.lastname@example.org If you have questions about your rights as a person who is taking part in a research study, you may contact a member of the Divi sion of Research Compliance of the University of South Florida at 813-974-5638.
285 Appendix B (continued) Your ConsentÂ—By signing this form I agree that: I have fully read or have had read and e xplained to me this informed consent form describing a research project. I have had the opportunity to question one of the persons in charge of this research and have received satisfactory answers. I understand that I am being asked to participate in rese arch. I understand the risks and benefits, and I freely give my consent to participate in the research project outlined in this form, under th e conditions indicated in it. I have been given a signed copy of this informed consent form, which is mine to keep. Signature of Participant Printed Name of Participant Date Investigator Statement I certify that participants ha ve been provided with an informed consent form that has been approved by the University of South FloridaÂ’s Institutiona l Review Board. That
286 contains the nature, demands, risks and bene fits involved in participating in this study. I further certify that a phone number has been provided in the event of additional questions. Denise Passmore Signature of Investigator Or Authorized research investigators designated by the Principal Investigator Printed Name of Investigator Date Institutional Approval of Study and Informed Consent This research project/study and informed consent form were reviewed and approved by the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board for the protection of human subjects. This approva l is valid until the date provided below. The board may be contacted at (813) 974-5638. Approval Consent Form Expiration Date: Revision Date:_______________
287 Appendix C Contact Summary Sheet Participant School Interview Date Release Signed Transcript Emailed Artifacts File ID
288 Appendix D Recruitment Email recruitment email to deans Burns, Patricia Sen t: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:57 PM To: deans at targeted universities Cc: Passmore, Denise Dean X: One of my faculty, Ms. Denise Passmore, is currently beginning research for her doctoral dissertation. Her study is called Â“A phenom enological study of nursing facultyÂ’s experiences in transitioning from a cl assroom to an online teaching role.Â” She would like to interview three or four nursing faculty from your college who have made the transition from live to online teaching. In support of her endeavor, I am, on her behalf, requesting your permission to conduct this research at your college and would also ask that you provide her with any recommendations of potential candidates from your faculty.
289 Ms. PassmoreÂ’s research has been approved through the University of South FloridaÂ’s IRB and she has gone through the IRB office at your university as well. Following is her contact information should you have any additional questi ons or concerns. Denise Passmore, M.A. College of Nursing Univ ersity of South Florida 813-396-9127 email@example.com Thank you. Pat Burns Patricia A. Burns, PhD,RN, FAANSenior Associate Vice President, USF HealthDean, College of NursingUniversity of South Florida12901 Bruce B. Downs, MDC Box 22Tampa, Fl 33612-4766
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Denise Passmore received a Bachelo rÂ’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1977 a nd a M.A. in Adult Education in 1992. She worked as a technical writer and instruc tional designer/trainer for Nielsen Media Research and several other corporations. She entered the Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida in 1999. While in the Ph.D. program at the Univer sity of South Florid a, Denise came to work for the University of South Florida Â– College of Nursing as an instructional designer. She has also coauthored severa l publications relating to online and adult education and has presented at AERC, SITE, AERA (state and national), and Sloan-C.