Attitudes about online course materials versus online research publication

Steve Kolowich reports on a survey of faculty attitudes about the use of online and electronic resources: “Digital Faculty: Professors and Technology, 2012”.

An interesting aspect of the survey is that the results show a contrast between attitudes about new models for research publication and new models of educational materials.

But it could be that colleges are just not making it worth their while. Only 27 percent of faculty respondents said they believe their institution has a fair system of rewarding contributions made to digital pedagogy. That roughly accords with the proportion who regularly record and share lectures and other digital resources (20 percent) and those who have ever published novel forms of digital scholarship such as visualizations or game-based projects (22 percent).
Producing digital work also might not be the best career move. While 65 percent of professors said that online-only scholarship can be equal [in quality] to work published in print, only 13 percent said they believe such work is given the same respect in tenure and promotion decisions. Meanwhile, 57 percent of professors said online-only scholarship should be given equal respect, with only 13 percent actively disagreeing.

This kind of uncertainty could be easily put to rest if universities would make clear, official statements about their tenure guidelines.

The “fair system of rewarding contributions made to digital pedagogy” results resonate with me. I’d be interested to see a breakdown of what rewards are offered for digital teaching advances. I have gotten one small teaching grant, and the university facilitates some of my digital teaching (such as streaming), but there are no pay incentives or research incentives (such as more TA support). All the faculty I know who are exploring digital teaching methods are doing it out of their own interest, not because there’s any policy to reward contributions in this area.