Does it really take longer to create an online course?

Researcher looks to empirical evidence to determine why teaching online courses seems to take longer than face-to-face courses.

online-course-timeDoes the development, and teaching, of online courses really take longer than for face-to-face courses? One researcher recently set out to discover if these existing beliefs can be supported empirically, rather than anecdotally.

And though Lee A. Freeman, associate professor of MIS and Information Technology at the College of Business at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, did find these beliefs to have empirical support, the reasons why developing and teaching online courses take longer may be different than those propagated by “trade press and qualitative perceptions.”

For example, one key finding of Freeman’s study, “Instructor Time Requirements to Develop and Teach Online Courses” found that the widespread belief that a technology learning curve leads to increased time spent for developing online courses is incorrect. Often, it’s the pedagogical learning curve that hinders progress for professors teaching online courses.

Another finding indicates that after initial online course creation and delivery, professors see a notable decline in time needed for teaching, with time spent per course equaling that of a face-to-face course.

“Instructors, department chairs, deans, and program administrators have long believed that teaching online is more time-consuming than teaching face-to-face,” explained Freeman. “Many research studies and practitioner articles indicate instructor time commitment as a major inhibitor to developing and teaching online courses. However, while they identify the issue and provide possible solutions, they do not empirically measure actual time commitments or instructor perceptions when comparing online to face-to-face delivery and when comparing multiple iterations of delivery.”

(Next page: Findings from the survey; survey details)

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