Experience, Adoption, and Technology: Exploring the Phenomenological Experiences of Faculty Involved in Online Teaching at One School of Public Health



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This phenomenological study explored the experiences of public health faculty, who developed and taught online courses, at one particular school of public health from 2006 to 2009. The goal was to explore and document the experiences of faculty involved with this phenomenon. A criterion sample was used to identify and select participants. Five public health faculty participated in the study. Data were analyzed in two ways. Written narratives, observational field notes, and artifact data were analyzed using the inducted grounded analysis technique. Interview data were analyzed using the phenomenological data analysis method, Stevic-Colazzi Keen Method. Findings revealed that the experiences of public health faculty, who develop and teach online courses were similar to those in other subjects and were described as difficult, daunting, painful, and time consuming, leaving the public health faculty feeling frustrated and exhausted. While negative feelings described the experience pertaining to the development of online courses, the experience in the teaching phase was seen as positive, enjoyable, joyful, refreshing, and fun. These experiences were found to be contingent upon instructional and organizational support, availability and quality of resources and faculty development and training. Three overarching themes emerged from the study in relation to the experience. These themes included the rhetoric of fear, transformation, and support. The rhetoric of fear described the participants? sense of being afraid or apprehensive toward developing and teaching online courses. Transformation described the transition participants made as they emerged as online instructors. Support described the structures needed to engage in the activities of developing and teaching online courses. The study also revealed five types of barriers to developing and teaching online courses at this particular school of public health. These barriers included psychological, organizational, technical, instructional, and time barriers. Benefits for developing and teaching online courses were identified. They included availability for students, access and penetration into global markets, instructional innovation, design innovation, and new methods of instructional delivery. This study provides data that can be used by institutions and faculty as they design and implement social, political, and technical infrastructures to support the activities of online teaching.