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22st Annual OLC International Conference
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Fighting the Tide: Understanding and Combating Resistance to Online Learning

John Vivolo (New York University, USA)
Robert Ubell (New York University, USA)
Session Information
October 29, 2014 - 12:00pm
Leadership, Values and Society
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Asia 2
Session Duration: 
35 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1

Resistance is futile, but when growing an online program, every institution needs to confront it and search for flexible solutions.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description and Goals:

With over 7 million online learners, and countless for profit and non-profit institutions, we would imagine that there is very little resistance to online learning. However, there still remains much resistance by faculty, students, department heads and even "decision-maker" administrative staff. This resistance takes place in the form of: faculty refusal to teach or develop courses online, students unwilling to take online courses, and departments/administration avoiding development or marketing of fully online degree programs.

This presentation will provide an analysis and strategies for addressing this issue by using: student/faculty survey results, live participant surveys and discussion, and professional experiences (taken from NYU's online learning unit). See comments about potential panel discussion below.

This presentation will also provide analysis of the following causes of resistance:

  • Fear of technology
  • Fear of loss of student/faculty engagement
  • Fear of loss of student communities (on-campus experience)
  • Fear of online isolation (working and learning from home)
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of poor quality education
  • Fear of repeating a few poor experiences learning/teaching
  • Fear of being replaced by adjuncts or machines (for full time faculty)

Questions that will be addressed:

  • Why do students resist taking online courses?
  • Why do instructors resist teaching and/or developing online courses?
  • Why do departments and/or administrative resist or slowly to develop full online degrees?
  • What role does fear play in this resistance?
  • Are their flexible strategies to combat resistance to online learning?

Goals (objectives): Audience members can expect the following take ways from this presentation:

Understand that resistance is still an issue for online learning programs

Understand that many of these feelings are be based on real concerns, but can just as easily be based on a single (or a few) poor experiences.

Understand that there are flexible strategies to combat resistance

Understand that the reasons for resistance may vary based on student, faculty and administrative staff needs and perspectives

Panel Discussion:
If this presentation is chosen for an extended informational session, a panel discussion will discuss this issue and take questions. Panel members will provide various strategies to combat resistance. Panel members will potentially consist of a student, online faculty member, on-campus faculty member, and online learning unit staff member.

Lead Presenter

John Vivolo is the Director of Online and Virtual Learning for New York University, USA. John partners with faculty to devise a set of pedagogical and technical practices often known as '€œBest Practices for Online Learning'. Working to create a rich and interactive learning experience, John also researches new methods and technologies to incorporate into online learning. For over ten years, John taught both fully online and blended learning courses. In addition, John has hosted numerous faculty seminars and workshops in online learning. During this time, he has trained faculty in both the eLearning technology as well as how to effectively implement these technologies into online courses. John has a Master's in English from the City University of New York.