Creating Effective Online (Virtual) Learning Environments

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Online learning has become ubiquitous in education. At the secondary level, online charter schools are gaining ground on traditional brick and mortar institutions. A similar evolution is occurring in higher education where online programs reduce the geographic constraint of attending degree programs. The online format has a clear financial advantage as the institution can reduce its need of physical facilities while attracting students and faculty outside of a specific geographic region. Simply posting content online does not differentiate an educational institution from a service such as Lynda.com; therefore, competition on quality of courses is expected. In order to be successful when teaching an online course, instructors need to change from traditional teaching methods to online teaching methods. Appana (2008) recognizes that limitations to online learning may be tied to the limited experiences and skills of instructors. Support mechanisms need to be in place to assist instructors in creating and teaching an online course. This may help to improve the online learning experience of students because of a resulting higher quality course. Further, Appana explains that online training with technology is vital. This includes not only how to use the technology, but to also solve technological problems. Administrative support, available technical personnel, and mentoring are also vital aspects to course success. Instructors are often thrust into online delivery formats with little to no training. Professors are seldom trained in teaching methodology let alone teaching online (Alley, 1996). Further, instructors who do not have adequate computer literacy skills will struggle with online teaching (Thurmond, 2003). One study conducted by Kosak, Manning, Dobson, Rogerson, Cotnam, Colaric, and McFadden (2004) found that the majority of faculty believed the online course training they received and participated in was adequate in terms of pedagogical and technical training. At the same time, faculty may remain reluctant to teach online courses. This research proposal seeks to measure instructor’s attitudes of preparedness to teach an online class based on training received and administrative support.


Business and Applied Sciences Academy of North America Annual Conference (BAASANA)


New York, NY