Supporting Faculty Success and Wellbeing in the Digital Age


Brett Christie, Vice President of Educational Innovation & Inclusivity, Alchemy, Kimberly Vincent-Layton (Cal Poly Humboldt), Megan Eberhardt-Alstot (California State University-Channel Islands)


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The rapid shift to online learning that began with the pandemic has left faculty stretched thin as they now juggle multiple course formats. In Fall 2022, we at Alchemy conducted a survey of over 500 higher education faculty that revealed concerning rates of burnout, highlighting a dire need for additional care and support for faculty. 

Our survey found that most faculty now teach courses across multiple modalities including face-to-face, online, hybrid and even HyFlex. Preparing for varied delivery formats requires a huge time investment, averaging 125+ hours for a new course. As a result of these increased demands, 55% of faculty say they lack the time required to teach effectively – a critical factor to student success.

Many faculty are less comfortable with teaching in these newer formats. Nearly half of our respondents reported simply mirroring their face-to-face courses when teaching online, rather than leveraging digital capabilities to create engaging learning experiences. Although 65% reported confidence teaching online, few stated mastery for creating digital content, using educational technology, or leveraging their LMS effectively.

Engaging students virtually also proves challenging. While 70% of instructors enjoy those “lightbulb” moments of student comprehension, many default to passive lecturing ill-suited for online learners. This skills gap contributes to 50% of faculty feeling burnt out amid exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced efficacy. Only 28% are satisfied with campus health/wellbeing resources, and most report not using existing campus support services for course design and delivery.

Institutions must take action to alleviate unnecessary burdens for faculty and to foster a culture of care for faculty wellbeing. Leaders can start by simply asking educators how they are coping – and then responding based on what they discover. Investments should be made toward more innovative modes of support for online pedagogy and technology that can actually save faculty a significant amount of time. We will also talk about approaches leaders can use to promote activities that enhance connections among faculty, see the time they are investing, and the results it is yielding.

By understanding faculty challenges and implementing more effective and individualized support practices, leaders can reignite teaching passion, innovation, and student success in the digital era. Join us at the OLC Leadership Network Symposium 2023 to explore more innovative and pragmatic solutions to support faculty in this new reality.

Join Carrie O’Donnell (CEO/Founder) and Brett Christie, Ph.D. (VP, Educational Innovation & Inclusivity) of Alchemy at the OLC Leadership Network Symposium on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 for their session focused on “Navigating Faculty Burnout and Overload in the Digital Learning Era.”

Brett Christie will also be presenting at the virtual 2023 Foundry Days event “Breaking the Cycle of Burnout and Charting a Path for the Future”.

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