Help Your Faculty Manage Online Workload

Student learning on laptop

We turned to Larry Ragan and Susan Ko for tips on how department chairs and faculty developers can help faculty manage online workload.

We hope you will also invite your faculty to review our recorded webcast, Managing Online Course Workload.

Because online and blended courses require more preparation than most traditional courses, faculty often find that they are committing significantly more time than they would for a face-to-face class. In the absence of specific guidance from department chairs or faculty developers on how to effectively structure an online course or how to manage their growing workload, faculty--especially faculty new to online learning--are in jeopardy of over-committing their time.

For practical tips on how to assist faculty with online course workload, we turned to experts Larry Ragan, director of the Center for Online Innovations in Learning (COIL) at Penn State University, and Susan Ko, the faculty development director for CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Managing and Setting Expectations

In the absence of a set period of scheduled classroom time, it is critical to discuss with faculty the need to define structured, set time periods for their online communication and instructional work. Otherwise, faculty may underperform -- or over-perform. "If we don't help faculty define and quantify that time, they may have the impression that they will need to be online all the time."

"Structure is critical, and communicating that structure is critical."
Larry Ragan, Penn State University


Considering the needs of each course, faculty need to clearly define the frequency & duration of their work:

  • How often do I need to be online?
  • How long should I be online?

The exact time is going to vary depending on the course and the teaching style of the faculty member, but Ragan encourages chairs and faculty developers to set certain benchmarks. At Penn State University's World Campus, faculty are asked to:

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