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IT/DL Director Presents ‘Best Paper’ at Distance-Learning Conference

Jennifer McLeanA study by the director of instructional technology and distance learning at Pennsylvania College of Technology resulted in “best paper” honors at the Distance Learning Administration 2006 Conference, held June 4-7 in Jekyll Island, Ga.

Jennifer McLean presented a paper and session titled “Forgotten Faculty: Stress and Job Satisfaction Among Distance Educators,” a synopsis of her research into the affective experience of faculty teaching exclusively at a distance. McLean worked with a panel of 14 educators, surveying the unique challenges faced by a “highly diverse and geographically dispersed faculty.”

Among the predominant sources of stress for distance-faculty members, she found, are technological challenges, compromised student evaluation, a dearth of peer interaction and connection to the home institution, and perhaps most important the pressure of “having a job with no clear start and finish time.”

“Placing strong emphasis on the need for distance educators to place reasonable demands on themselves and to establish their own boundaries between work and personal life is critical to retaining a healthy and productive faculty body,” she wrote. “Care should be taken to make even remote faculty feel a part of the greater whole through regular communication and support. This will enhance their sense of affiliation to both the school and the individuals that comprise it, increase compliance with regulation and ideally positively impact occupational satisfaction.”

The winning paper appears in the DLA 2006 Conference Proceedings and has been published in the summer issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.

The annual event focuses on the administration and management of distance learning, specifically addressing the needs of those who plan, manage, teach and support distance-education activities and courses. This year’s conference was sponsored by the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration and the University of West Georgia.

For more information on distance-learning opportunities through Penn College, contact the office at (570) 320-8019, send e-mail or visit online.

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