Last updated: 23.06.12

Teachers familiar with e-learning 'have more positive view of it'

Educators who are already familiar with online learning tools take a more optimistic view of the innovation than their peers who have not experienced them, a study has shown.

The research, from Inside Higher Ed and the Babson Survey Research Group, involved two separate polls - one dealing with 4,564 teaching faculty and the other questioning academic technology administrators.

A total of 60 per cent of the teachers polled had promoted online training courses to advisees or students, with this figure hitting 87 per cent among those who teach over the internet.

This proportion remained among long-serving or tenured faculty members, with the study authors suggesting this high proportion could be because distance learning online is a better fit for certain individuals than traditional classroom settings.

While 58 per cent of teaching staff claimed to be more worried about the rise of e-learning than excited about it, this fell to just 20 per cent among administrators.

Furthermore, over 50 per cent of the technical support staff said the institution they work in has good quality-assessment tools in place, but people in the faculty appeared to be less aware of this, with the proportion falling to 25 per cent among this demographic.

Instructors involved in two-year institutions tended to be more optimistic about online learning than those in four-year centres, with 49 per cent of the shorter course providers expressing excitement about the tools, compared with 40 per cent of those giving lengthier tuition.

The researchers hypothesised that this could be due to the higher number of adjuncts at two-year centres, such as Jack Longmate, who teaches English at Olympic College.

He was quoted in the study as claiming professionals in his position "could very well see online instruction as a source of new teaching opportunities and view it positively, and it could likely reflect the felt need by adjuncts for additional work".

The proportion of teachers who are favourable towards virtual learning environments could be set to continue escalating as the sector grows.

Former superintendent of Valley Stream Central High School District and Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Marc Bernstein wrote in Newsweek that e-learning is "the next big thing in education - a true revolution in our approach to high school teaching".