Frequency and Time Investment of Instructors’ Participation in Threaded Discussions in the Online Classroom
The movement into online education has raised concerns about the workload demands placed on faculty teaching online classes. Research indicates that faculty report a greater time investment for online classes than for equivalent face-to-face courses; concerns about time investment are compounded with the considerable ambiguity surrounding the perceived availability of faculty teaching in a 24/7 online environment. The continuous, open nature of the virtual classroom raises a host of questions surrounding the frequency of instructor interaction, timing of interactions, and an instructor’s availability to students. One of the most popular and pedagogically effective forms of virtual classroom interaction is via threaded discussions. The purpose of the current study was to examine frequency and time investment of an online instructor’s participation in course-specific threaded discussions in order to provide a more accurate picture of the faculty investment in the ongoing facilitation of an online course, independent of course development. Results indicated considerable variability in both frequency and time investment of threaded discussion participation. While research indicates the threaded discussions are a very effective means of promoting active involvement with course materials, it appears as though there is little consistency among experienced online instructors as to the instructional investment required to take advantage of the educational gains available through this type of electronically-mediated instruction.