Monday, March 01, 2010

Faculty Preference for Mode of Learning

As I work to assist faculty to improve their pedagogical practices and courses, and learn new/existing technologies, I have noticed an interesting trend. It is contradictory in that it seems to conflict with the results of a recent survey I conducted, which asked instructors for their preferred mode of learning.

Surveyed were two groups of instructors; those that teach online and those that do not. Of the 30 respondents who do not teach online 75% preferred to learn in a face-to-face (f2f) venue while 25% had a preference for virtual/online learning. These results differed from those who taught online. The 26 online instructors who responded, suggested that their learning preference for f2f was close to 40%, while those who chose virtual/online learning was nearly 60%.

Okay, it's pretty clear that those who teach f-2-f prefer to learn that way and instructors teaching online like to learn online. So what's the contradiction? According to the log I keep on f2f and online learning attendance, when offered equal opportunities for both f2f and virtual/online learning events, the majority of instructors, 70%, choose virtual/online learning as opposed to 30% who choose f2f.

Can these results be likened to espoused versus practiced theory, or are their other factors at play here? One could surmise that the respondents are saying one thing and doing another, but variables may suggest otherwise. Factors that may influence mode of choice may be: 1) - Time constraints (e.g. course schedule, meetings, etc.), 2) - Interest in or relevance of learning subject matter to their instruction, 3) - Motivation to learn, or perhaps 4) Fear of peer judgement if their level of knowledge/expertise is at a novice level in the subject matter (I.e. no one likes to look dumb in front of their peers much less their students). Their may be other factors which influence this trend. Not sure just how many readers my blog has, but do sound off on this topic. I look forward to any feedback that you might provide