Faculty resistance to engage in online education can be found across varying levels of education universally. With a growing tech savvy population not only in North America, but globally, it is imperative now more so than ever to recognize these resistances in order better help address the future of online education.
I have been very fortunate with my experiences as a student with online learning. With that said I still have yet to be on the other side of the fence and be an online educator. As of now I primarily teach face to face in a clinical setting at a dental hygiene college. Reflecting back to my own experiences with this topic, I do recall having a recent conversion with the program coordinator about the possibility of offering some dental hygiene courses online or even looking into developing online courses for a degree component. I recognize that this does require years of preparation to execute correctly. The initial reaction to this conversation was defiantly concerns about time, costs, and resources. Simply put the initial conversation was more along the lines of that they did not want to deal with this possible expansion of the program as it will be a lot of work. I believe this resistance can be common for many different programs that have become comfortable in the ways they are conducted. The idea of developing or transitioning to something different or new can be daunting to those that are perhaps set in their ways of teaching or even unwilling to adapt new formats of delivery even if it could benefit them in the long term.
Upon research I found several articles expanding on ideas that could help address ways to reduce the resistance of engaging in online education. Sibley and Whitaker (2015) discuss the importance of institutional support systems to ease this transition through elements of incentives and providing the appropriate training by stating “Faculty must have evidence of efficacy, access to easy points of entry, confidence in institutional support, and incentives to develop online instructional capacity” (Sibley and Whitaker, 2015). They suggest several potential incentives that can be utilized by institutions to help engage or entice resistance faculty into participating online learning including:
- Providing compensation as salary, research funds, or time (e.g., a course buy-out)
- Appealing to a sense of curiosity and a desire to develop new skills for those attracted to experimental work or invigorated by the chance to reimagine their courses
- Delivering training and support to lower the barriers and to decrease the time and effort needed to develop or adapt new instructional approaches
- Activating a sense of mission and loyalty to their students and the institution
- Increasing a sense of relevance for those who want to remain current in the rapidly changing environment of higher education
- Recognizing effective engagement in online learning in the institutional reward systems (Sibley and Whitaker, 2015)
After reviewing these ideas about the potential of incentives, I could see the college I teach at adapting some of these if not all approaches in the future to help ensure faculty participation in online learning.
After reading Sibley and Whitaker’s (2015) article, I feel more confident in the future of engaging resistance faulty member into at least considering the option of teaching a course online given that they are provided with the appropriate support and resources. Like any change there needs to be a willingness to be vulnerable to what we do not know and to be open to what could be learned. For the institution in which I teach at, there are several didactic courses that could be transitioned into online courses. I feel that even starting with one course would be a start. I feel that I can approach the idea of this more confidently now to my superiors.
Sibley and Whitaker (2015). Engaging Faculty in Online Education. Retrieved from: