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Center for Innovation in Teaching & Research
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Section 1.8 Workload and Time Considerations

Preparing to teach online: “Preparing and designing your online course is the most time-consuming component of the online learning experience” (Elbaum et al., p. 22). Developing an online course requires more time than a face-to-face course because you must provide clear, step-by-step instructions for all activities. There are many variables in estimating the time it will take to develop an online course. Some of these variables include:

  1. Length of the course
  2. Time involved in learning a new technology such as Blackboard
  3. Multimedia and software use
  4. Converting documents into an electronic format
  5. Converting traditional classroom activities into online activities

It will take much more time to develop a course from scratch than to repurpose an existing face-to-face course into an online format. In theory, converting a face-to-face course to an online version should be quicker. However, consider your face-to-face course will require modifications to be effective and successful online.

It is likely that much of your course lives “in your head,” and is delivered to your students in the form of in-person lectures or discussions. It will take time to convert your materials into electronic versions. A good guideline is to allow as much time in the online course creation as it takes to run the course (Elbaum et al., p. 24).  

Teaching online: Because Angelo State University recognizes teaching online requires more time of the instructor, most online courses limit enrollment to 15 to 20 students.    

There is no definitive data showing a correlation between teaching online and higher levels of “burnout;” however, there is no doubt teaching online will consume much more of your time than teaching face-to-face, especially during the first run through of your course. For example, a twenty minute discussion during a face-to-face course may take the online teacher two to three hours in preparing, facilitating, and grading an online asynchronous discussion.

In addition, the online course is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, the online student has a tendency to think you should be available to them at any time. It is important to set clear guidelines in your syllabus for contacting you during virtual office hours. Also, provide the student with what they can expect from you in terms of feedback and communication.