Addressing Resistance to use Technology by Faculty Members Through Professional Development Initiatives from Different Cultural Lenses

Structure of this Paper

This paper is presented in two parts. Part 01 will address the background, research problem, research questions, literature review and the methodology used to measure resistance vs. usage intensity in using learning management systems for teaching and learning purposes by faculty and students attached to the School of Business at X University. This section relates to the first section of the capstone project. Part 02 will address faculty resistance to use learning management systems from an administrative lens. The main emphasis here will be to identify how organizations with different cultural backgrounds could use different formats of professional development techniques to help address the faculty resistance in using Moodle based learning management systems for teaching. (This is presented on the premise that there is a significant level of resistance by faculty members. The current data that is being tabulated heavily points to this direction). The author will try to identify the main cultural lens that the School of Business operates with (from the cultural sets identified by the authors of six cultures of the academic) and will suggest a possible mix of professional development opportunities that could be provided to address some of these issues.  The student perspective identified in part 01 will not be addressed in part 02 for manageability reasons.

Part 01

Background

In 2006, X University after a careful in-depth study introduced “Moodle” as their sole learning management system replacing its own lotus notes based system. The task force that was put together identified that Moodle would best support Kwantlen’s culture of delivering applied courses to its students and extending learning beyond the classroom. It was envisaged that Moodle will be used by a majority of faculty members within the University in achieving this objective.

Research Problem

3 years after introducing Moodle, while some have embraced this, the majority of faculty members do not seem to use Moodle to support their teaching. Presently 39% of the faculty members of the School of Business use Moodle to teach face to face, online and partially online courses. The breakdown of these statistics is presented in table 1 in page 3. The problem under investigation revolves around understanding reasons for the lower rate of usage of Moodle for teaching and learning within the School of Business. Michelle and Geva May (2009) states in their study that while in recent years many institutions have embraced online learning, the increase in faculty acceptance of technology has been lagging behind. In the same study, these authors identify four types of resistance categories that faculty members typically depict in using technology. As for the student’s point of view, Valenta (2001) identified several forms of factors that may lead to resistance by students in using technology.  Abbad et al (2009) identifies several categories that students would typically follow in adopting technology, based on the technology acceptance model developed by Davis (1986).

Table 1

Total Courses Offered Vs. Moodle Usage

Department

Courses Offered

Moodle Course

%

Computer Related Sections

CBSY

32

27

84%

CISY

7

7

100%

INFO

4

4

100%

Quantitative & Analytical Sections

ACCT

96

32

33%

BUQU

34

0

0%

ECON

41

15

37%

Writing Based Sections

CMNS

28

19

68%

CPSC

16

12

75%

Business Related Sections

ENTR

28

15

54%

FNSR

1

0

0%

HRMT

11

5

45%

BUSI

62

29

47%

LFLA

8

0

0%

MRKT

40

14

35%

Totals

365

141

39%

Source : Moodle Statistics in X University

In order to narrow down the problem, the study would attempt to understand to what extent resistance of the use of Moodle based learning management systems technology both by faculty and students will have an impact on the intensity of its usage. While acknowledging that there could be many other factors that would lead to a lower usage rate, the author is interested to identify to what extent resistance affects the usage and if so what types of resistance factors have a bigger impact.

 Research Questions

The following research questions are framed to address the identified research problem.

  • What is the nature of the relationship between resistance to use and the usage intensity of Moodle based learning management system by faculty members within the School of Business at X University?
  •  What is the nature of the relationship between resistance to use and the usage intensity of Moodle based learning management system by students within the School of Business at X University?
  •  How does the student experience in using Moodle based learning management systems compare with faculty usage?

 

Objectives of the Study

Based on the above research questions, the purpose of this study is to identify whether there is a relationship between resistance and usage intensity of Moodle learning management systems by faculty members and students within the School of Business. The study will also attempt to identify the nature of relationship that exists between these variables and will highlight how the findings will inform policy, practice and theory associated in using learning management systems for teaching and learning purposes.

Significance of this Study

In taking this study forward, a question that could be raised is as to why the institution should emphasis the use of technology for teaching purposes. The answer lies in how technology would impact student learning. Kimble (1999) in reviewing literature that highlights the impact technology on learning, points to a series of studies that have shown the positive impact of technology on learning while acknowledging that there are also other studies to highlight the opposite. Schacter (1999) synthesizes the findings of several meta analysis studies on the impact of technology on student achievement, and concludes that, on average students who use technology perform better in assessments, students tend to learn more in less time, instructors can extend the discussions beyond the classroom, technology supports interaction and student participation, leading to a higher degree of learning etc. As for the use of learning management systems for teaching and in particular Moodle as a platform, the study would identify whether this is a cause for any resistance.

 Cuban (1986) in his study of documenting the classroom use of technology since 1920, highlights that from the early days when institutions were attempting to use films, radio, television and eventually computers in the classroom for teaching purposes, teachers showed resistance towards using them for their teaching purposes. While some of the resistance typologies identified in the current study may be old, at the turn of the 21st century, understanding to what degree the resistance to use technology (and different versions of it) have on usage intensity would be very useful for policy makers to initiate strategy to manage it. It will also have a profound impact on the development of professional development initiatives within organizations to address this resistance. Currently the professional development initiatives at Kwantlen are mostly directed towards providing technical support to implement learning management systems for teaching. If this study directs that resistance to use technology due to several typologies of resistance factors, than specific professional development and support initiatives could be further identified to address these concerns.

 Scope of the Study

 The scope of the study is limited to the School of Business in X university for manageability purposes. It is further limited in identifying the faculty and student’s perspective in using Moodle, leaving out other stakeholders that use Moodle for other administrative reasons. There could also be many other factors that could be associated with usage intensity of Moodle for teaching and learning. The study is limited only to identifying how resistance factors would impact the intensity of usage of Moodle within the defined faculty of X university.

Literature Review

 The literature review will be carried out in several segments. The first section will introduce learning management systems in general, its benefits and different types available. The second part of the review will present various factors identified in literature that leads to resistance by faculty and students in using technology and learning managements systems. Factors associated with faculty members and students are identified separately. The third component of the review will introduce different models found in literature that would be useful to understand the usage intensity of a learning management system.

1)      Learning Management Systems

 This section will introduce learning management systems (LMS), best practices and issues related to the adoption of LMS within a higher education context. While there are many definitions associated with learning management systems, Dehindo and Odunaike (2008), defines LMS as “a software program or integrated platform that contains a series of web-based tools to support a number of activities and course management procedures”.  The use of web based learning management systems used for instruction is on the rise due to many features that they provide to support teaching and learning. LMS could be used for a fully online class, to deliver a mix mode/blended learning sessions or in a full face to face classroom for different pedagogical reasons. Bouhnik (2008) et.al, as quoted in Dehindo and Odunaike (2008), has identified several distinctive benefits of using learning management systems for both learners and instructors. The freedom to decide when the lesson is to be learnt, lack of dependence on the instructor, the freedom for learners to express thoughts and the accessibility of course  materials were cited as some key advantages. On a primary level, a LMS could be used as an administrative tool to manage a course and at a higher level as it could be used as an advantage teaching tool with a lot of pedagogical value supporting faculty to allow different areas of content, teaching philosophies and instructional styles.

There are many types of learning management systems. They are Web Course Tools (WebCT), Web Course Home Page (WebCH), Blackboard Learning Management Systems, System for Multimedia Integrated Learning (SMILE), Moodle, Desire2Learn, Angel and many other platforms. While each of these systems has their own differences, many are built to support similar usage needs. Feldstein (2006), as quoted in Black (2007) et. al, states that despite the fact there are many learning management systems and each of them have some form of a better performing basic functionality,  they all have one thing in common; the offer of a one size fill all option.

Moodle based learning management system is the center of this study. Moodle was originally an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. Moodle was developed to encourage interaction between students and to improve learning through the construction of ideas and concrete “things” for others to experience. Moodle is an open source project, which means the Moodle course management software is free to download. Furthermore, the Moodle open source project has a community of supporters and developers who are instrumental in Moodles continued growth. (Moodle Org’ 2010)

2)      Resistance Factors Associated in Using Technology

Various literature that has highlighted the resistance and adaptation related factors associated with using technology/ learning management systems/online teaching will be reviewed below. They are presented as separate sections as factors affecting faculty resistance and factors affecting student resistance below.

 a)      Faculty Members

 Cuban (1986), in his synthesis of the use of classroom technology highlights various factors associated with faculty resistance in using technology over the last 90 years. Although the use of radio, film, television, machines and eventually the computer evolved over a period of time, the types of resistance factors that faculty generally resisted remained quite the same. Some of those factors were skill issues, accessibility issues, willingness to change issues and also the lack of understanding in using the technology for teaching purposes.

The study carried out by Mitchell & Geva May (2009) in identifying attitudes affecting online learning implementation in higher education institutions, categorizes the faculty resistance to use technology into four main themes. They are

  • Intellectual reluctance: perceptions about the degree to which online learning is consistent with their professional values and norms;
  • Support: perceptions that their efforts are valued by the institution and that there is general and specific support;
  • Change: perceptions of degree of instability caused by changes in their institution, and to their job; and
  • Cost-benefit: perceptions of online learning as benefits outweighing costs.

This study clearly identifies the main categories to cluster broader themes of resistance factors.

Walker (2005) presents several factors of resistance based on the framework used in the technology acceptance model originally presented by Davis (1986). These factors relate to faculty intensions in using web based instructional components for teaching purposes. These resistance factors include

  • Usefulness: This relates to the faculty perceptions on the usefulness of the technology component in achieving the set learning objective.
  • Computer background: The ability of the instructor to use the equipment and programs associated in using the technology.
  • Organizational support: provided by the intuition, department as well as from peers in using technology for teaching.
  • Ease of use: how user-friendly the technology is to operate in a practical manner?

Goodson (2005) categorizes faculty resistance into two main typologies in using e-learning based technologies. They are

  • Type # 1 resistance factors: These include defensiveness shown by faculty members based on fear, ignorance and unawareness in using technology. They mainly express their defensiveness by being unwilling to examine assumptions that underlie behaviours or fairly tested assumptions associated in using such technologies with others who have different views about effective practice. He characterizes these resistance factors as being stubborn and blocking new initiatives related to technology use.
  •  Type # 2 resistance factors: According to Goodson these would be defensiveness that is created based on interests of learning. Faculty members who exhibit this type of defensiveness are more willing to test their positions only if those practices could lead to a much better practice. This resistance is mostly associated with their perceptions of their professional competence as teachers.

Goodson states that faculty members who show type # 1 resistance factors should be left alone since attempting to get them to embrace technology may only create more resistance. As for type # 2, these faculty members’ resistance factors could be overcome by creating situations where their learning outcomes of using technology could lead to positive results.

Moser (2007) presents the faculty e-learning behaviour process and a continuum of behavioural factors. He suggests that if these are supported at each stage, faculty members will adopt using technology faster and in a positive manner.

b) Students

Abbad et. al (2009) presents several factors affecting student adoption of e-learning systems. They use the technology acceptance model (Davis, 1986) as their base theory and highlights several important factors that students may lead to resisting the use of e-learning systems for learning purposes. They are

  • Perceived usefulness: These include how the students perceive how useful the technology based system is in supporting their learning purposes.
  • Perceived ease of use: Relates to student perceptions of how easy for them to use the technology based system in terms of accessibility, navigation, following instructions etc.
  • External factors: These include a wide variety of other factors. They are – technical support availability, student’s internet/computer experience, subjective norms in terms of who influences the student to use these systems, the level of interactivity with the system and self efficacy criteria.

Valenta et al (2001) identifies positive and negative student attitudes and learning associated with technology based education in a distance learning perspective. Some of the negative factors that led to resistance to use as identified in their study includes

  • Limitations on interactivity
  • Technological problems
  • Increased workload
  • Lack of logistical support (administrative and technical)
  • Costs (equipment, online phone charges, etc.)

The above review would highlight the resistance factors associated with using technology both by faculty and students at large.

3)      Intensity of the use of Learning Management Systems

This segment will highlight various models that would help understand how to evaluate the usage intensity of a learning management system.

Janossy & Hover (2008) presents a proposed model for evaluating C/LMS usage. This model identifies five levels of usage intensity of a learning management system and categories them as follows.

  • Level 0 – No C/LMS use
  • Level 1 – Document distribution
  • Level 2 – Work submission, feedback
  • Level 3 – Online testing, asynchronous discussion, feedback
  • Level 4 – Recording for review, real-time distance participation

Each level of usage is further categorized into several intensity levels totaling 13 categories spread across these 5 levels. This model is the first of its kind that presents a very clear categorization, with a clear criterion set to establish usage intensity. This was originally developed for a WebCT based LMS but includes provisions to apply this to any LMS. Janossy & Hover indicates that this model will help faculty members and students to understand their current usage and would be beneficial in many ways. Faculty could evaluate whether there is a direct impact of higher usage and the performance of their students. This could also be used as a bench mark to further improve moving up the usage levels and initiate professional development to further support this effort.

Moore (1996) identifies three typologies of interactions that are applicable for distance learning education interactions. These different interaction frameworks include

  • Learner – Content Interaction – where the learner users the LMS to access content
  • Learner – Instructor Interaction – this is argued as an essential component for the learner to interact with the instructors especially in a fully online environment.
  • Learner – Learner Interaction – recognized as a third important dimension to support a more network enabled educational environment.

Tuovinen & Quinn (2003) introduces a fourth interaction typology to Moore’s (1996) model based on resource based learning paradigm as suggested by Rowntree (1994). This fourth interaction includes

  • Instructor – Content Interaction – allowing the instructor the design and improve course content over a period of time.

Using the above interaction framework, Tuovinen & Quinn (2003) presents five configurations of LMS uses which are presented as a continuum as follows.

  • LMS supported plus face-to-face/interactive video teaching (IVT);
  • LMS supported plus print;
  • LMS supported plus mixed media (CD);
  • LMS supported plus mixed media (Website); and
  • Fully online on LMS.

They have also provided different forms of support that needs to be provided to students at each level of the configurations in supporting the use of the LMS.

Further to the above models that provide insights in categorizing different usage intensity of learning management systems, Downing et al (2007) presents yet another categorization of LMS in an online learning environment as

  • Minimal use
  • Supplemental use
  • Integral use
  • Central use and
  • Exclusive use

Kim & Lee (2008) present their version of usage intensity of learning management systems as

  • LMS for instructional management
  • LMS for interaction
  • LMS for evaluation
  • LMS for information guidance

There are many other models presented in literature that would help identify usage intensity further. The above models reviewed are a few but useful models that highlight different formats of usage intensity that would help to develop a framework to evaluate the level and the intensity of usage of a learning management system used for teaching and learning purposes.

Methods and Procedures

The following sections will further highlight methods and procedures associated in finding answers to the identified research questions.

Variables and Concepts

The independent variable would be the resistance factors in using Moodle as shown by faculty members and students separately. As for faculty members, the four main categories identified by Mitchell & Geva May (2009) is used to further capture the nature of resistance. As for students, the factors identified by Abbad et. al (2009), originally cited by Davis (1986), would be used for further analysis.

The dependent variable would be usage intensity of Moodle based learning management systems. In order to identify the usage intensity both by faculty members and students, the components of the five level usage intensity model proposed by Janossy & Hover (2008) will be subjected for testing.

These variables will be further operationalized into a questionnaire in section 04.

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be tested in this study.

H1 – There is a positive relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by faculty within the School of Business at X University. That is, as resistance increase intensity to use increases.

H0 – There is no positive relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by faculty within the School of Business at X University.

H2 – There is a positive relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by students within the School of Business at X University. That is, as resistance increase intensity to use increases.

H0 – There is no positive relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by students within the School of Business at X University.

H3 – There is a negative relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by faculty within the School of Business at X University. That is, as resistance increase intensity to use decreases.

H0 – There is no negative relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by faculty within the School of Business at X University.

H4 – There is a negative relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by students within the School of Business at X University. That is, as resistance increase intensity to use decreases.

H0 – There is no negative relationship between resistance and intensity to use Moodle based learning management system by students within the School of Business at X University.

Operationalization

The following chart will indicate how each of the elements of the research question and variables are informed by literature and how the associated instruments to test them are built around it.

Research Question Variables Selected Theory/Citation

Instrument

What is the nature of   relationship between resistance to use and the usage intensity of Moodle  by faculty  within the school of Business at X University Resistance Mitchel, B   & May, G , (2009) ‘Attitudes Affecting Online Learning Implementation in   Higher Education Institutions’, Journal   of Distance Education, VOL. 23, No. 1, 71-88 Faculty questionnaire is developed   based on this model. See appendix A
Usage Intensity Janossy, J.   & Hover, T. (2008). Proposed Model for Evaluating C/LMS Usage, Proceedings   of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International   Conference 2008(pp. 2979-2986). Chesapeake, VA
What is the nature of   relationship between resistance to use and the usage intensity of Moodle  by students   within the school of Business at X University Resistance Abbad, M , Morris,   D & Nahlik, C (2009) , Looking under the Bonnet: Factors Affecting   Student Adoption of E-Learning Systems,    International Review of Research in Open and Distance   Learning Volume 10, Number 2. Student questionnaire is   developed based on this model. See appendix B
Usage Intensity Janossy, J.   & Hover, T. (2008). Proposed Model for Evaluating C/LMS Usage, Proceedings   of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International   Conference 2008(pp. 2979-2986). Chesapeake, VA

Methodology

a)      Data Collection

 Data will be collected through a survey among the identified groups of the study. They include

  • Faculty members who teach in  different departments in the School of Business.
  • Students who are currently taking courses offered by the School of Business.

b)      Selection of the Sample

The following table will highlight the population and the sample that is planned for the survey.

Group Population Size Sample Size Percentage
Faculty members

150

80

50%

Students

3100

465

15%

The sample will be selected on a non random basis. Faculty members from departments in the School of Business will be selected for the sample. The researcher will attend the monthly department meetings and will obtain from faculty members, those who are willing to take part in the study, a survey. As for the student survey, students from several courses at different levels will be selected for the study based on the willingness of the faculty members to allow the researcher to visit their classrooms.

c)      Questionnaire Design

Two research instruments developed to gather data.

d)      Method of Data Analysis           

The data analysis will be carried out in several sections. The first section of data analysis will provide demographic information of the users. This analysis will be further used to carry out cross tabulations with the main findings. The second component will be to identify the resistance factors for faculty members and will be identified based on each of the four main categories as identified by Michell, Geva (2009) and for students based on the study of Abbad & Nahlik (2009). Thirdly the intensity of Moodle usage will be identified based on the five levels of the model identified by Janossy & Hover, (2008).

The main analysis would be to identify the relationship between resistance factors and the usage intensity.  Correlation between these variables at a confidence level of 95% and one tail hypotheses tests will be carried out to test the null hypotheses in proving the identified hypotheses.

Limitations of the Study

There are several limitations associated with this study. They are

  • The findings of this study will reflect only the perspective of faculty and students of the School of Business. However, resource allocations to support the learning management system are not based at faculty level but at university level. The implications for policy and practice identified cannot be enforced at faculty level. While this study may inform theory at the faculty level its relevance for policy and practice at an institutional level may be limited.
  • Usage intensity is affected by many factors. In this study the focus would be to identify how usage resistance may have an impact on the intensity of the use of Moodle based learning management system. This finding may not provide a complete result since there could be many other factors that could explain the intensity, other than resistance and may be of limited use for policy and practice.

 Part 02

This section will explore different organizational cultural typologies as suggested by the six cultures of the academy model that would create the under lying environment for many educational institutional activities.  Different professional development (PD) initiatives that could be used to address faculty resistance factors to use technology to teaching will be reviewed and a matrix will be presented matching these PD initiatives to different cultural context discussed above. This section will also identify the cultural lens that the School of Business operates with and set out specific recommendations for professional development initiatives to address faculty resistance.

 Different Organizational Cultural Perspectives

According to Tierney (1988) as quoted in Peruski (2006), “An organization’s culture is reflected in what is done, how it is done, and who is involved in doing it”. It highlights decisions, actions, and communication within the environment in which change is proposed. Geva May (2010) suggests that culture is the invisible force that drives organizational policies into force. Therefore culture of an organization which includes values and beliefs would have a role to play in obtaining its faculty members to accept or reject change. The culture of many higher education institutions is based on a high degree of faculty autonomy. Often, administrators manage budgets and try to shape the culture toward certain ideals that reflect the vision and mission of the administration but faculty members may not have the same values and priorities as set out by management. Depending on the organizational cultural setting, the manner in which faculty resistance is addressed has to be different since there are diverse underlying assumptions. Often professional development initiatives fail to recognise this trend (Davis, 1986)

The main cultural lens that will be used for this analysis will be the six cultures of the academy model as presented by Bergquist & Pawlak (2008). This model proposes six key cultures operating in higher education institutions. They are the collegial culture, the managerial culture, the developmental culture, the culture of advocacy, the virtual culture and the tangible culture. The following paragraphs will highlight the essence of these six cultural components.

The collegial culture is mainly represented by different disciplines represented by different faculties within a higher education institution that values faculty research and scholarship. In this culture, autonomy is greatly valued. Faculty accountability rarely extends directly to their performance and would take great offense if their autonomy is violated. This culture could be seen mainly in a university type of an environment.

The managerial culture primarily focuses on its organization, implementation and evaluation of work that is directed towards specific goals of the academy. It values fiscal responsibility.  It relies on effective supervisory skills to define the mission and the goals of the institution. Administrators of these institutions are expected to be efficient managers of people and money. A faculty member who is successful in this culture is expected to be efficient and a competent teacher and is expected to show leadership by teaching and course design rather than serving in faculty committees. This culture is mainly prevalent in a community college environment.

The development culture finds meaning mainly in the creation of programs and furthering personal and professional growth of all members. It values openness, service to others and growing the institution as a whole. The institution is interested in faculty, student development and in carrying out institutional research on various topics that will contribute to the growth of the institution as a whole.

The advocacy culture primarily focuses on distributing resources and benefits gained through the work of the institution equitably to all. In this kind of culture, management and faculty holds opposing interests, is involved with bargaining and may seek the involvement of outside mediation for support. Collective bargaining is a primary focus in this kind of culture. Faculty members work around a given psychological contract in meeting the bargains held at their levels.

The virtual culture finds meaning mainly in the knowledge generation and sharing in a most modern context and values open, shared and a responsive system. It looks at linking the institution with its educational resources to global and technological resources. It works around five key elements which consider computers as tools, internet as the new information base, exploiting the strengths of the knowledge economy, working around loose organizational boundaries and its virtual epistemology works around the creation and expansion of the virtual culture.

The tangible culture values face to face education in its own physical location. It holds assumptions about the ability of its systems to instil institutional values that integrate learning within a local perspective. The institutional values are often represented in many visible ways. Teaching and learning in this culture takes place in a particular place and at a particular time.

The above cultural typologies highlight different values and beliefs held by faculty and the institution as a whole which would fundamentally differentiate its operating philosophies with set boundaries. In the virtual culture, faculty members tend to embrace the use of technology for teaching and for other functions, thus managing the resistance to use technology for teaching would be relatively negligible. The challenge would be to establish faculty members to use a unified learning management system vs. using their own preferred learning support systems.

As for other cultures, the approaches that need to be taken to manage resistance will have to be addressed on their own nuances that were discussed earlier.

Professional Development Initiatives

Hinson & LaPrairie, (2005), highlights that professional development (PD) initiatives need to be sustained over a period of time. Obtaining faculty involvement with technology in a meaningful way and initiating professional development in gradual steps over a period of time was also identified as a key as faculty members tend to embrace technology. They also concluded that when these initiatives are supported by knowledgeable professionals and peers, faculty members will tend to resist less in adapting to technology use. They also highlight that the design of the course also plays a significant role in this process. They emphasized that PD should not only embrace ongoing technical support but also support design and delivery initiatives.

Rogers, (2000) identifies several professional development initiatives that institutions could implement in integrating technology into higher education institutions. Some of these initiatives include

  • One to One – faculties should be allowed to arrange one to one tutorials or just in time sessions.
  • Small group workshops – operated in a small group setting offered in multiple sessions.
  • Departmental programs – promote principles and practices of teaching using technology by working with specific departments.
  • Computer or web-based training – interactive programs that would allow them to enter and exit at any time. Frequent short tests given to test mastery of the required skills.
  • Tutorials – should include skills set that relate to a range of users. It should be self paced, short and may use visual screen shots to demonstrate effectively.
  • Tele training – introducing distance learning, such as satellite teleconferencing, interactive television and computer based interactive systems.
  • Lunch bytes – brown bag lunch sessions featuring faculty members who had used technology in an effective manner.
  • Faculty institutes – classes and workshops that would focus on integrating computing resources and technology for teaching.
  • Multimedia user group – a group of faculty who use multimedia frequently meet to share their experiences in using multimedia with others.
  • Mentors – providing the role of a coach, guardian, counselor and facilitator.

There are many more professional development initiatives that could be presented that are acknowledged in research. The idea here is to identify suitable professional development options that would work in a given cultural context which would be addressed next.

 Professional Development Initiatives through Cultural Lens

 The following matrix is an attempt to suggest different professional development initiatives to support different cultural typologies identified earlier.

Collegial culture

The managerial   culture

The development   culture

The advocacy culture

The virtual culture

The tangible culture

One to One

X

X

X

Small group workshops

X

X

Departmental programs

X

X

Computer or web based training

X

Tutorials

X

X

Tele training

X

X

X

Lunch bytes

X

X

Faculty institutes

X

X

Multimedia user group

X

X

Mentors

X

X

Relating the matrix as highlighted above, the professional development initiatives in the virtual culture could be best delivered through remote media such as computer assisted, web assisted, tele training and multimedia use since faculty which embraces general technology use would be more responsive to this kind of training tools. One would ask whether there would be resistance to use technology in this kind of culture. The point would be that although some faculty members would be frequent users of different technology applications, they may resist the use of Moodle based LMS due to other types of resistance factors discussed earlier.

For organizations that are high on the tangible culture, where faculty members prefer interacting in a physical space context, one to one meetings, small groups, departmental programs and faculty institutes would be looked upon favourably. This would allow that physical presence through face to face support.

In the managerial culture where faculty seeks more order in what they do, facilitating more structured sessions like small group workshops, departmental meetings, faculty institutes, tutorials etc. would meet the managerial cultural needs. Clearly set goals for each program would help faculty members to take part in these sessions in a more productive manner.

In a collegial culture where autonomy and individual freedom is valued, one to one sessions, mentors, tele training, lunch bytes would be methods in providing faculty their own pace to learn.

Also, the content delivered through these professional development initiatives should address different types of resistance factors such as intellectual based, change based; support and cost vs. benefit based resistance categories. The list of professional development initiatives identified above is not deemed to be comprehensive and complete. It is also not suggested that the professional development initiatives that are identified for each cultural typology should not be exclusively limited to those identified. The message communicated through this matrix is that, in addressing faculty resistance issues through professional development initiatives, different organizational cultural context needs to be considered. Failing to recognize this would not yield results at an institutional level at large.

Cultural Typology that relates to the School of Business, at X University

X University , with the recent change of its status from a university college to a new teaching university is undergoing a transformation of its identity. The School of Business which accounts for more than 40% of the university student FTE has been traditionally run as a top down organizational hierarchy where many activities are attempted to be controlled by the management. While instructors have the freedom to adopt a teaching method that works best based on their style, there are very clear-cut deliverables and procedures that needs to be followed. These are monitored and administered by the management very closely. With the change of its identity, across the university, a self-governed faculty council model is introduced giving the faculty and departments more control in their decision-making. This currently has led to a friction between the management and faculty in terms of who is in control with faculty trying to grab power and management not willing to let go.  The academic cultures inventory was subjected to five faculty members of the School of Business. The result indicated a combination of a managerial and advocacy culture prevalent within the School. While this attempt to understand the cultural dimension through this inventory is not representative due to the negligible sample size, it provides a reasonable assertion of its cultural typology. This also corresponds with the cultural inventory administered by four other faculty members in the administrative processes class who also rated the institution between these two cultures. With its new identity, the School of Business is aspiring to move towards a collegial culture, where faculty members are seeking more autonomy in many of the academic activities.

Given this cultural context, the following section will highlight suitable professional development initiatives to manage faculty resistance to use Moodle based learning management systems within the School of Business.

Specific Professional Development Initiatives to Overcome Resistance

As indicated earlier, the usage of Moodle based learning management system by faculty for teaching is as low as 39% of the current faculty members. The research data that has been collected and being tabulated does point out a higher level of resistance in using Moodle for teaching. Faculty members tend to dominate mainly in the areas of intellectual and changed based resistance factors. (This data conclusion is based on the partial analysis of the current data and this result may or may not change once the full study is completed).

While there are no specific types of professional development activities only designed and delivered to support faculty members at the School of Business, the following are some general PD activities that are available to support faculty at large who use Moodle.

  • Small group workshops on using specific applications of Moodle
  • Drop in sessions for faculty who has specific questions
  • Hot line to ask questions if faculty members needs help
  • Requests could also be made for one to one help from the Moodle administration staff which are accommodated based on capacity availability.
  • A Moodle site is available with basic templates in setting up a Moodle course.

All these programs are based to help faculty members to set up Moodle based courses and mainly support the technical aspect of delivery.

Given that the faculty members are moving more towards an autonomous collegial culture where individual freedom and knowledge is valued, the following PD initiatives are suggested.

Certificate in Teaching using Moodle

  • To organize courses with certification to faculty members in understanding how to use Moodle to teach online, mix mode and face to face courses.
  • It is suggested that this be organized as modules and offered over a period of time.
  • It is also suggested that this be offered both in face to face and in an online format.
  • The online format will allow faculty members who seek to complete this in a self paced manner and the face to face option for faculty members who seek structured content.
  • Professionals and faculty members who are experts in using Moodle could facilitate this.

Online Interactive Tutorial on how to Use Moodle for Teaching

  • This would allow the users to log on to a site that provides information on how to use Moodle through a search function.

Organize Departmental Moodle Training Sessions as Annual Professional Development Effort

  • This will help capture faculty members who currently do not use Moodle to teach and will give them an opportunity to understand the system and its value.

Mentoring Program

  • Each new faculty member who signs up to use Moodle to be assigned an experienced instructor as a mentor who already uses Moolde and who is an expert. Increase in volumes could be supported through the provision of time release to experienced faculty members to manage their work load.

Moodle Cafe

  • This would be a drop in cafe that will allow any instructor who is interested in asking questions about the use of Moodle to walk into the cafe where other faculty members who use Moodle to chat around a table. This could be done over a coffee or lunch.

Moodle Show Case

  • To organize faculty members who have used Moodle to teach and has expertise to showcase their work and to share their experience with others.

The above would be few initiatives that could be implemented with a minimum budget requirement but will significantly encourage the usage of Moodle for teaching among faculty members.

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