I have been reading a paper by Orr, Williams and Pennington (2009) and it struck a chord with a recent project that I have been peripherally involved in. The paper analyses staff perceptions around the motivating factors for online engagement and the development online teaching. I wasn’t surprised by the paper but thought some points were worth noting given the fit with current work, summary of key points from the paper below with interspersed comment.
Compensation is well received by staff for development work but is not the primary motivator for work. Those who were going to engage would engage anyway, with or without compensation.
LA. Agree, Compensation isn’t the primary motivator but it is welcome and may help staff prioritise this work over other less essential activities as compensation recognises the value of the work undertaken. It can, I think, facilitate the completion of work as it adds a degree of obligation.
The complexity of web tools emerging means that a facilitating technical team is important for staff engagement; it’s a lot to ask staff to be discipline and technical experts, however some academics will want to fulfil both roles to keep control
LA. No doubt this is true, having seen a facilitating team in action recently such staff enable the translation of ideas and are able to facilitate outputs, such a team needs good pedagogic and technical skills. Fortunately and unfortunately I am probably in the controlling academic side as I wish to keep my hand-in with the technology, that said, a strong technical development team provide a mini- community of practice to raise standards.
Institutional leadership was uber-important for staff buy-in and for staff to feel that their work was valuable
LA: Inevitably so. At an event I attended recently where a management team had openly supported online development the staff seemed to present outputs very proudly and with a belief that their work was totally valuable.
It’s critical for departments to align with institutional goals. Where departments only tolerate staff engaging in online the motivating effect of institutional goals will not be fulfilled.
The primary motivator for staff engagement in online work is concern for student experience and in response to student need.
LA: Agree, but as the early adopters spread and champion, the other factors provide the conditions to make online happen.
Barriers are only barriers when staff begin their journey, thus motivation is always the key.
Orr, R.,Williams, M.R. and Pennington, K. 2009. Institutional efforts to support faculty in teaching. In Innovations in Higher Education. 34. 257-268.