Home > Distance Education, Educational Leadership, Higher Education, Teaching & Learning > The Isolation of Online Adjunct Faculty and its Impact on Their Performance

The Isolation of Online Adjunct Faculty and its Impact on Their Performance

By Véra L.B. Dolan

A growing number of US workers are telecommuters who perform their jobs remotely most days of the week. Among these millions of virtual workers are many online educators, particularly adjunct instructors who teach for distance education institutions across North America and in other parts of the world.

Academic administrators, increasingly aware of the potential alienation that physical distance can cause, have looked for ways to create a greater sense of community among online adjunct faculty members. The rationale for their efforts is based on the hope that online faculty will exchange best practices, thereby improving both their skills and their motivation; this ideally will enable schools to retain students because superior services are provided by motivated faculty members. However, educational administrators often appear to concentrate solely on the accomplishment of tasks, disregarding the importance of nurturing relational, social, and personal ties with telecommuting staff.

Many administrators who oversee virtual faculty apparently believe that with advanced technology they can create dialogue, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, which in their minds should be sufficient to cultivate loyalty among instructors. However, in order to encourage the best possible performance from remote workers, it is essential for educational institutions to understand that regardless of how sophisticated technology may be in opening communications channels, it cannot create a totally fulfilling work experience (Helms & Raiszadeh, 2002). The mere existence of a virtual academic community does not necessarily foster faculty loyalty toward management and the institution.

Continued at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/793/1691

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