Quality Enhancement Plan
GOAL 11: The College will provide incentives for online faculty and support staff.
The Course Development subcommittee report noted that faculty should realize the online teaching experience to be both personally satisfying and professionally valuable. Factors that contribute to faculty satisfaction should include support, rewards, and institutional study/research (Moore). This Goal addresses the reward portion of the satisfaction equation.
The Infrastructure subcommittee report discussed faculty rewards in greater detail. Their report notes Feldman and Paulsen make a critically important point about faculty motivation: "To maintain excellence in teaching or to promote faculty motivation and (when necessary) instructional improvement, the unambiguous commitment and support of senior administrators is especially important" (71-72). Decisions must involve all the stakeholders on a campus, and these initiatives must be fully supported by the top leadership. This entire QEP is evidence of the institutional support beginning with the president and extending through the whole academic administrative structure of the College.
Members of the Infrastructure subcommittee interviewed CVCC faculty who teach online to get their opinions on incentives and rewards. The responses from thirteen faculty members actually involved in the design, building, and teaching of online courses overwhelmingly indicate release time and monetary compensation were not highly motivating factors for their involvement. In fact, many considered the monetary award a nice benefit, but the amount of compensation came nowhere near equitable to the hours spent in preparation and on-going maintenance of existing courses. The variety of individual faculty responses more closely aligns to the available documentation. Dr. Barbara Millis effectively cites examples in her "Motivating Faculty to Employ the Resources of a Virtual Teaching and Learning Center" which mirror many of the actual responses observed locally by faculty. The excitement of learning and attempting something new corresponds to the observation that a natural curiosity exists among teachers.
An administration which supports risk takers and provides access to requested resources affirm the environs which foster innovation and synergy among online faculty. Peer collaboration and support provides both a positive impetus for those who are considering employing new technology and a negative fear that failure to learn new tools will leave a faculty member too far behind to compete in new ways of instruction. Discussed under Goal 3 above is the College policy which provides additional salary compensation for instructors who permit students to enroll in their courses above the maximum enrollment limit. In addition to this measure, however, the institution wanted to extend support for online instructors further. The purpose of this goal is to delineate the additional ways the institution will provide incentives for instructors of online courses.
Objective 1: Year One through Five: Develop an award given through the Employee Recognition Committee to honor outstanding online faculty and staff.
Each August at Convocation for the academic year, awards are presented to employees in several categories. The reward itself is a plaque, but the recognition of the honored employee is what matters. This objective will establish at least one award to honor outstanding online faculty and staff. The particulars of this award will be determined by the Employee Recognition Committee including the name of the award, the nomination process, and the selection criteria.
Objective 2: Year One through Five: Pay a stipend to maintain an ISP connection in a faculty member's home during semesters when an online course is taught.
This is an idea which originated from the Infrastructure subcommittee. Their report stated that several methods other than direct salary compensation for the intrinsically increased workload of online faculty have been suggested. Since many of the hours faculty devote to working on Web courses are spent at locations other than an on-campus office, the suggestion of paying a stipend each month appears to be an attractive alternative. This stipend would be offered to offset the costs incurred by the instructor to maintain a computer, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) account, and connection equipment. Since the equipment and ISP account could also be used for purposes other than work, the compensation could relate to an enjoyable use of necessary equipment at an off-campus location. This stipend might be used to improve a faculty member's ISP connection from a dial-up account, for example, to broadband access thus allowing the faculty member much faster download times.
This suggestion will be a relatively inexpensive compensation compared to increased salary percentages or complex funding formulas. It will also be a simple plan to operate. Faculty would be provided this stipend for the semesters in which they teach online classes. Should a faculty member not teach web-based courses for a time, this stipend would be discontinued and could easily be reinstated when the instructor begins teaching online again.
Objective 3: Year Two through Five: Hire support personnel to aid in the development and maintenance of online courses.
This objective provides the means to allow others - personnel from the College's IT department, student workers and/or part-time employees - to perform various operations on web courses as the instructors' request. These operations might include scanning documents into the course web pages, converting files from one format to another (i.e. FrontPage to Blackboard), designing or installing graphics, et cetera. Having assistance (and assistants) to perform these kinds of services will permit faculty to make improvements and modifications to their courses that they otherwise might not have adequate time to do themselves.