As the Internet expands, distance and online education are becoming increasingly important among the variety of instructional formats used in higher education. Through the Internet, distance and online education have significantly changed the dynamics by which institutions and students view education. As a result of the convergence of technology and education, colleges and universities are making higher education available to thousands of studentsAll over the world who have no other access to advanced learning.
The incorporation of online education within the traditional forms of teaching and learning has not been realized as quickly in the case of Historically Black Institutions (HBIs). HBIs have lagged in implementing and embracing online education as another form of teaching (Ghemri, Lau, Mepewou, & Abdullah, 2004). Only 20 out of 105 HBIs recently have implemented online degree programs (Abdul-Alim, 2011). Hence, they are challenged by the quick pace of technological advancement (General Accounting Office, 2003), and they are also "challenged from within to overhaul their operations and image as they face outside pressures" (Kelderman, 2010, p. 1).
HBIs are also grappling with faculty reluctance in participating in distance and online education because of the perceived barriers (Olcott, 1994; Thompson, 2000). The constraints affecting adoption or reception of new ideas by HBI faculty must be acknowledged (Rogers, 1995) since research has shown that perceived barriers are having a considerable "negative effect on faculty participation in distance education" (Betts, 1998, p. 195). Dillon and Walsh (1992) believe that because faculty are the main ones responsible for the design and delivery of online course work, they should not be overlooked in the institutional adoption process. In essence, successful adoption of online teaching at HBIs depends upon the involvement of the faculty (Osika, 2006).
The purpose of this correlational study was to examine whether or not the four constructs (organizational change; technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure; faculty compensation and time; and technology threats) were perceived to be barriers for HBIs faculty. The researcher also investigated the faculty characteristics associated with the perceived barriers. This study also will aid HBIs in understanding the barriers that inhibit faculty members from teaching online and in some way mitigate these circumstances.
The theoretical framework that guided this study was derived from Muilenburg and Berge's (2001) research on barriers to distance education. While their study identified 10 barrier constructs to online education, this study focused only on four constructs.
The study was guided by the following key questions:
1) Are the constructs (organizational change; technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure; faculty compensation and time; and technology threats) perceived as barriers by HBI faculty?
2) Is there a significant difference among these constructs in the degree to which they are perceived by faculty as barriers to implementation of online courses/programs?
3) Do faculty perceptions of the degree to which each of the four constructs is perceived to be a barrier relate to faculty age?
4) Do faculty perceptions of the degree to which each of the four constructs is perceived to be a barrier relate to faculty years of tenure?
5) Do faculty perceptions of the degree to which each of the four constructs is perceived to be a barrier relate to number of courses faculty have taught online?
6) Do faculty perceptions of the degree to which each of the four constructs is perceived to be a barrier relate to the number of years that faculty have taught at university?
The study employed quantitative methods to evaluate the relationship of faculty demographic characteristics (independent variables) age, years of tenure, number of courses taught online, and years of teaching to the dependent variables, the four barrier constructs (organizational change; technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure; faculty compensation and time; and technology threats). The target population was permanent, full-time faculty members at the four HBIs in Maryland. The intended sample was 200 estimated, 50 from each institution. At the end of the data collection, there were 112 participants who responded, for a return rate of 56%.
The instrument for this study was derived from Berge's original survey created June 20, 1999, and modified by the researcher. The survey was developed in two parts. The data collected was analyzed using SPSS 17.0. The study used descriptive, bivariate, and regression analyses to explore the four constructs perceived barriers.
The major findings of this study indicated that the biggest barrier by faculty was faculty compensation and time. The study found strong to minimal interrelationships among the four barrier constructs. A weak, though significant relationship was found between the barrier of technology threats and faculty age, and technology threats and faculty years of tenure. A weak inverse relationship was found between organizational change and the number of courses faculty taught online as well as a weak inverse relationship with technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure and the number of courses faculty taught online. Years of teaching experience was not related to the four barrier constructs.
There was also a strong positive correlation found between faculty years of teaching experiences and tenure status. Only organizational change and technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure were found to relate to online teaching (yes vs. no). Finally, the perceived barrier of technicalExpertise, support, and infrastructure was the only significant predictor of online teaching. Explicitly, for every one unit increase in perceived technical,Expertise, support, and infrastructure the odds of not teaching an online course increases 1.72 times. The results presented in this study have contributed new information to the educational literature about the barriers HBI faculty members have in relation to teaching online.