Prospective Online Faculty

Challenges of Online Learning for Instructors:

Online education has been in trend around the globe since the past two decades and is growing into an integral part of higher education. Despite its day by day increasing demand and acceptance, instructors are still hesitant towards online teaching. Online teaching raises a series of questions in teachers’ minds when they consider switching to work online. However, mostly these questions are merely the fear of an unknown thing that has not been put into practice by the instructors.

Lack of Interest

Many instructors teaching in face-to-face approach are not interested in teaching online. The instructors, who have been teaching face-to-face for years, do not feel it convenient to switch to the online format. This uneasiness is the fear of the unknown, or it is related to the inability to connect with students within the online environment. Following fear of the unknown, many instructors feel afraid that computers would replace them.

Technology Related Problems

Online courses are run with the help of technology that requires the facility of computer and internet. The efforts of teaching online will be futile if issues like power or server failure happen. Apart from such problems, instructors; who have been teaching in a physical classroom since years; may not be aware with the use of technology and need some training and practice for using computers for teaching online.

Content Development

Instructors are responsible for the preparation and planning of material for a specific course. While teaching an online class, they have to generate and produce new material for the course that becomes quite challenging for them as the content cannot be copied from on-campus teaching content.

Predefined Course Contents

Instructors don’t show a keen interest in online teaching and are not enthusiastic about being an online instructor. The reason can be that in the majority of the online courses, instructors have to teach with a predefined course and they don’t experience the feeling of empowerment. This passive role of instructor contributes a large chunk of half-heartedness regarding online teaching.

Change in Faculty Role

One of the significant challenges with online education is the changing role of the instructor — the faculty role changes from “performer” as in the face-to-face class in the lecture-style delivery of information to a “guide” who must make adjustments to the delivery of content based on their online environments. In this role, instructors aim at facilitating the students' learning, rather than teaching the students.

Student Versus Faculty Focus Classes

In online teaching, the student is the center of the spotlight. Face-to-face instructor-focused classrooms get transited to the more student-led or student-focused classrooms. The result is that the lecture format of the traditional class will work less likely in the online format as the delivery of the content must be adjusted to meet the demand of an evolving interactive environment.

Creating Instructional Strategies

Online teaching offers a significant challenge in designing instructional strategies so that students can grasp the true essence of what the instructor is trying to convey. Online education lacks communication with visual cues and takes place without the help of body language, so it becomes essential for the online instructor to prepare appropriate and befitting instructional material for the students to engage them more in the virtual classroom. Clarity of assignment instructions is also necessary for improved understanding of the students.

Interacting and Engaging the Students

Interaction with the instructor and among students themselves is an essential element of successful online education. Collaborative engagement motivates learning and promotes a broader and more critically aware approach to subject matter. Unfortunately, collaboration is one of the most challenging things to achieve when students are not physically present together. The online instructor should engage students with thought-provoking questions to move the discussions forward. Instructors must provide immediate and direct feedback and reinforce a safe environment for students to let them feel valued and able to share their ideas.

Responding to Students

Instructors have to interact with the students only through emails. At times, when the size of the class gets big, and students have plenty of questions, an overflow of emails can be a problem and will require great time to answer. On occasions, the instructor may receive an inappropriate message from the student. It is essential to respond to such communication in a professional, impersonal manner; keeping student-instructor interaction in a friendly way but never as a friend; and being aware of any school policies relating to these types of student communication.

Communication Barriers

Teachers are always expected to have good communication with the students. Communication challenges include interaction via various technological modes that is not easy all the time. Some online faculty finds the virtual class environment cold and distant to interact with the students. This loss of communication can affect the learning performance of students, and they may not be able to get good grades in a particular course.

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