Mad About Online Learning: Strategies to Engage Faculty Who are Angry About Online Learning

Concurrent Session 9
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Brief Abstract

If you’ve ever faced a faculty who is mad about online learning then this session is for you. Helping faculty to teach online requires knowledge of emotional regulation and the specific role of anger and fear that are sometimes a part of designing and teaching an online class. 


Dr. Laura Douglass is currently serving as Dean of Professional Studies at the Van Loan School at Endicott College. She currently works with faculty to integrate the body into their Criminal Justice, Liberal Studies, Psychology, and Business Management courses. She is dedicated to learning, the body and enhancing the experience of online learning for students and faculty. Her publications can be found in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, International Journal of Yoga Therapy, Pedagogy, Pluralism and Practice, Journal of Online Education and Religion & Education among others.

Extended Abstract

If you’ve ever faced a faculty who is mad about online learning then this session is for you. Helping faculty to teach online requires knowledge of emotional regulation and the specific role of anger and fear that are sometimes a part of designing and teaching an online class. Learn how to scaffold dialogue and use inquiry as intervention to help faculty understand what they are trying to learn (or avoid) about online learning. Participants will leave with an understanding of the neuroscience behind socio-emotional learning and be inspired to craft courageous conversations with their faculty.


  • Describe the neuroscience behind socio-emotional learning.
  • Practice strategies to enhance dialogue and to use inquiry as intervention with faculty who are concerned about online learning
  • Evaluate your own effectiveness and resistance to working with faculty who have anger and fear issues.

Many faculty have strong feelings about the inferiority of online learning. These feelings do not go away just because they are required to teach online. Although instructional designers, administrators and deans are not therapists, they do need a fair amount of socio-emotional knowledge to help some faculty embrace online learning. Socio-emotional skills can include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, decision making skills and relationship skills. These skills are often considered “soft” in higher education and at times they are even devalued. Despite lack of knowledge of socio-emotional skills, most everyone appreciates acceptance, kindness and frustration tolerance in those who are helping them learn digital skills.

In this educational session we will explore emotions and how online learning evokes strong feelings about the human experience, embodiment, virtual space, interpersonal relations, and temporality – all of which can be enhanced through digital technologies that focus on the importance of relational pedagogy (Adams & van Manen, 2006; Funk & Funk, 2017; Herman & Kirkup, 2017; Nadan & Stark, 2017). Participants will leave the session with basic knowledge of socio-emotional learning and mindfulness skills that will help them to identify anger and fear before their obvious expressions (Weems, 2007).

Most professors are aware of the educator John Dewey and his call for education to be a place where democratic ideas are explored (Dewey, 1944; Rogers & Oakes, 2005); simultaneously faculty can feel frustrated and angry about what they perceive of as “administrative reach” and “economic based educational decisions” that they may believe online learning represents. Acknowledging the frustration that naturally comes with a changing professional landscape has the potential to bring faculty into a “window of tolerance” (Ogden, Minton, & Pain, 2006) where they are willing to objectively weigh the potential for online learning within their curriculum.

Helping faculty to see that online learning does indeed include people, and is exceptionally relational (Blake, 2000) often requires a delicate use of inquiry as intervention to artfully assess the depth of resistance to online learning. Participants in this session will practice using dialogue as a method to help lead their faculty into greater understanding of their own biases, strengths and power as faculty in an online environment.

Essential to understanding others is a capacity to know one’s self. This session will take time to assess our own resistance to working with faculty who are angry, fearful and anxious. With additional work responsibilities in every role, it is tempting for all of us to push aside the emotions that often come with our work. Instructional designers, administrators and deans all have a role to play in encouraging the right balance between compassion for self, support of those we work with and the quest for quality online learning. While educators understand that their role is to cultivate an intelligence in their students that helps them to face and shape the world (not just conform to it), we as instructional designers and administers need to help faculty explore their own resistance to face and shaping the digital education of today.  


Adams, C., & van Manen, M. (2006). Embodiment, Virtual Space, Temporality and Interpersonal Relations in Online Writing. College Quarterly, 9(4).           

Blake, N. (2000). Tutors and students without faces or places. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 34(1), 183.           

Dewey, J. (1944). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Free Press.           

Funk, S., & Funk, J. (2017). From a Pedagogy of Vulnerability to a Pedagogy of Resilience: A Case Study of the Youth and Gender in Media Project. Critical Questions in Education, 8(3), 297-321.           

Herman, C., & Kirkup, G. (2017). Combining feminist pedagogy and transactional distance to create gender-sensitive technology-enhanced learning. Gender & Education, 29(6), 781-795. doi:10.1080/09540253.2016.1187263           

Nadan, Y., & Stark, M. (2017). The Pedagogy of Discomfort: Enhancing Reflectivity on Stereotypes and Bias. British Journal of Social Work, 47(3), 683-700. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcw023           

Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York: WW Norton & Company.           

Rogers, J., & Oakes, J. (2005). John Dewey speaks to Brown: Research, democratic social movement strategies, and the struggle for education on equal terms. Teachers College Record, 107(9), 2178-2203.           

Weems, L. (2007). To Be Mindful of Otherness: Toward a Postpsychoanalytic Problematic of Ethics and Education. Philosophical Studies in Education, 38, 37-50.