Transitioning from Lectern to Laptop: Faculty Experiences in Online Instruction
As online education expands in prominence and acceptance, the higher education sector will continue to experience a paradigm shift altering long-held institutional traditions. In 2012, over 7.1 million college students enrolled in at least one online course. To support the monumental surge in online enrollment trends, higher education has witnessed an increased demand for a qualified cadre of faculty to successfully transition teaching strategies and responsibilities in a face-to-face traditional setting to an online learning environment. This study explored role change for faculty from lectern to laptop, identifying the significance of the numerous idiosyncrasies as instructors experience this transition to a virtual environment. This study examined the perceptions of faculty regarding the primary differences navigating between classroom and online instruction as they adopt pedagogical shifts in a digital setting and the impediments and benefits that occurred. Research shows there are significant attributes associated with this role change while faculty overcome barriers to successfully migrate this transition as they adapt to an innovative teaching modality. The research was conducted at a mid-sized, public university in Southwestern United States. The mixed methods approach provided a quantitative measure of faculty perceptions of motivators and inhibitors of online teaching from both experienced and non-experienced faculty. The quantitative findings are coupled by a case study of faculty who have instructed in these diverse teaching environments. The faculty in the study elaborated on the pedagogical and functional shifts in teaching as well as the key aspects that potentially influence or discourage faculty from teaching in an online environment. The combined themes from the data converged into eight primary areas, including defining and acclimating to the role changes, navigating curriculum adaptations, identifying benefits of teaching online, expressing deterrents, defining technology expectations, professional development support, quality matters, institutional commitment, and innovative strategies. The study informs higher education leaders how this expanding cadre of faculty perceives their evolving role and the nuances inculcated by teaching in these modalities. Faculty are the key ingredient to sustaining the quality of delivery for elearning opportunities as the momentum for growth continues and the demand for innovation in educational delivery reshapes 21st-century higher education.