Colleges and universities are discovering that online learning platforms are a new and effective way to reach prospective students and generate additional revenue. While many higher education institutions choose to focus on student retention to sustain enrollment numbers, schools should have an additional focus on recruiting and retaining online instructors.
When most colleges and universities go viral, they often recruit current faculty and staff members to facilitate online courses. This is often a smart decision during the startup years of an online program, as instructors can use their current course curriculum with minor adjustments for the online environment. However, as class sizes grow and schools add new courses and degrees to their online offering, colleges and universities should consider hiring a staff of online instructors. Because of the nature of online learning, institutions can recruit these instructors from across the country and can hire them on a part-time basis.
Institutions should try to make instructors feel like they are part of the campus community. If instructors are local, make sure to include them in staff dinners and mixers. If instructors are located outside of the local area, set up an interactive discussion forum that allows them a central location to communicate.
Colleges and universities should also provide online instructors with viable training and support to ensure they can effectively facilitate their courses. Adequate support also ensures that online instructors feel engaged and connected to other instructors and allows them to grow professionally.
Lowering the turnover rate of online instructors is important in maintaining the integrity and quality of a college’s online degree program.