Faculty members juggle many obligations, including research, service activities, and other university-related activities that extend beyond lecturing in the classroom (Dennison, 2012). To support 100% online programs, it is important to gauge the appropriate number of full-time, adjunct, and/or clinical/practicum/site-based faculty members needed to spend time on course development or enhancement as well as teaching or providing oversight to each student section per course per term, without overestimating and overspending. This attention is particularly warranted given increasing scrutiny from accreditors and policy makers; it can be detrimental to program accreditation and the overall student experience to not have adequate faculty to meet set faculty workload standards (Dennison, 2012).
Most colleges and schools have defined policies around faculty workload and specific teaching responsibilities for different faculty affiliated with a program or departments. Academic Services and Products developed a Faculty Workload calculator that integrates these inputs and can project required faculty resources as programs are adjusted into an accelerated, online format. The calculator provides quick estimates of if and where there are personnel gaps.
Below are some general, practice-guided estimates about required time-on-task for academics associated with a fully on-line program.
The Program Administrator or Director is responsible for program integrity and ensuring faculty are available for individual courses. In addition, there are certain standards set at the program level to drive consistency across all courses and among all faculty members. Program administrators often lead these initiatives, adding administrator duties upon regular duties and weekly faculty load. These additional duties should also factor in to workload distribution.
Program Administrator/Director Activities
Time on Task
Act as strong program director available to lead the program and faculty, facilitating or setting adoption program-level standards and policies and identifying faculty to develop and/or teach each online course. May include:
Ongoing: typically 8-15 hours per week; with more time needed as the program grows in size.
Engage in program planning and build faculty consensus for program-level decisions, including minimum quality standards and uniform design
20 – 40 hours total during program implementation.
Provide feedback on Online Student Orientation to promote understanding of the program and successful pathway to graduation
15 – 20 hours total during program implementation.
Instructor or Faculty Activities
Investing in online course readiness is critical to overall student success and operations. Whether courses are only face-to-face, online, or already accelerated, typically there are always some course enhancements to make when a program becomes part of an AP partnership. Establishing course quality can be a significant time commitment. Therefore, it is important to forecast the time needed for course design or adjustments in calculations for accelerating/developing courses in workload estimates. The below estimates are supported by ASP’s decades of combined experience working online as well as additional research (see Conceição, 2010).
Below are some estimates of the time required for different levels of course design; although there may be adjustments to this range depending on the faculty’s member’s source material or his or her online or LMS experience, reserving this time is a critical best practice. Once the carousel has been finalized, ASP creates a course development schedule, which outlines timetables for each faculty member. Typically, a program needs at least four different faculty subject-matter-experts responsible for the academic course content and design within a program.
|Type of Course Design||Faculty Time on Task|
|Course development New course in Face-to-face and/or online format||80 – 120 hours over 3 – 4 months|
|Course Acceleration – Converting an online semester-based course (14-16 weeks) to an online accelerated course (8 weeks or less).||50 – 60 hours over 2 – 3 months|
|Course LMS Migration – Moving an existing online, accelerated course from one LMS to another.||30 – 40 hours over 1 – 2 months|
|Course Refresh – Updating course usability or material prior to go-live with an AP–supported program.||5 - 20 hours over 1-2 months|
|Course Improvement - Post-course improvements/updates||
After each course offer:
Cohen, M.Z., Hickey, J.V., & Upchurch, S.L. (2009). Faculty workload calculation. Nursing Outlook, 57(1), 50-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2008.07.004
Conceição, S.C.O., & Lehman, R.M. (2010, September). Faculty strategies for balancing workload when teaching online. Paper presented at the 2010 Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, & Community Education, Lansing, MI. Retrieved from https://msu.edu/~mwr2p/ConceicaoLehman-MR2P-2010.pdf
Dennison, G.M. (2012). Faculty workload: An analytical approach. Innovative Higher Education, 37(4), 297 -305. doi:10.1007/s10755-011-9211-y
Durham, S., Merritt, J., & Sorrell, J. (2007). Implementing a new faculty workload formula. Nursing Education Perspectives, 28(4), 184-9.
Ellis, P. A. (2013). A comparison of policies on nurse faculty workload in the United States. Nursing Education Perspectives, 34(5), 303-9.
Gerolamo, A.M., & Roemer, G.F. (2011). Workload and the nurse faculty shortage: Implications for policy and research. Nursing Outlook, 59(5), 259-265.
Lobo, M.L., & Liesveld, J.A. (2013). Graduate nursing faculty workload in the United States. Journal of Professional Nursing, 29(5), 276-281. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2012.10.006
Waldrop, J., & Chase, S. (2014). Lead Faculty Workload Model: Recognizing equity and leadership in faculty. Nurse Educator, 39(2), 96-101. doi:10.1097/NNE.0000000000000025