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Decline

Ed and Mark had each worked in the field of counseling psychology for thirty years. According to Super’s Career Ladder, they were in a transition period between Maintenance and Decline . Ed had taught for 18 years, interspersed with years of as counseling practitioner. Although Ed had never before used technology in teaching, he decided to teach an online course at the request of his program chair. His university was in competition with three other universities in the region for students who wanted to take courses at a distance, so online courses were in demand. Ed’s online teaching was made possible because of the pre-packaged course materials and the availability of frequent help of the technology expert on campus. Ed could be considered to be in the Updating phase of Decline , as he was finding a niche in teaching with Online Day.

Mark, an older instructor in the Decline phase of career, was an exception to the pattern of the oldest instructors using technology the most. Although he started out the semester with the intention of using most of the Online Day components, by the end of the course he had abandoned them. He had been an early adopter who had experimented widely with technology in his teaching. Mark had taught the theories course for so long, he was not dependent on any one textbook. He tried using many of the Online Day components, but environmental factors in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina forced him to return to traditional teaching methods. Mark was stepping back from innovating and relying more on his traditional ways of teaching. For these reasons, Mark fits into the Deceleration phase of Decline .

In summary, the two instructors who taught online courses and utilized the greatest number of Online Day components were older, and either retired (Ken), or close to retirement (Ed). They were both motivated to seek online teaching materials because they were committed to teaching the theories course online in the near future. Their motivation helped them to persevere in using the courseware even though they met with some obstacles. Being able to use online materials saved them time both in creating their courses, and in administering them. In contrast, three instructors who used the fewest Online Day components were in the Establishment phase of their careers and were seeking tenure (Nancy, Laura, and Lyle). Tenure seeking activities severely restricted the amount of time the new instructors could devote to learning new software. Their motivation to use Online Day was to enhance their teaching rather than to serve as the delivery mechanism for the course. When they met with obstacles, they did not persist in seeking solutions. Their degree of commitment to using the courseware was not high.

Recommendations for future research

This study raises important issues for courseware publishers, and for university administrators. In general, the courseware publishers should take great care in the selection of software producers to make sure that the software design is correct for the discipline, that the nomenclature fits the discipline, and that the product will work with existing campus-wide course management systems; otherwise, the courseware will not be widely adopted. University administrators should examine policies around bringing the computer skill levels of both students and instructors to a level where they can make use of widely used learning technologies.

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Source:  OpenStax, Faculty use of courseware to teach counseling theories. OpenStax CNX. Oct 14, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11130/1.1
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