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Online Communities for Faculty Support at Lesley University [Final Title]
Center for Academic Technology 2004-2005 Faculty Fellowship
Technology in Education Program
Lesley University

[Mary Hopper was awarded a fellowship to carry out the following project during the 04/05 academic year.
Original title: Supporting course mentoring needs across Lesley University through 0nline Environments]

This ethnographic study explored how online communities can be used for faculty support activities in higher-education. Structured interviews with 25 faculty from a wide range of programs at Lesley University showed that faculty support practices vary greatly relative to a variety of factors that include the size of a programís faculty (number of core and adjunct faculty), geography (local campus based, regional or national) and format (face-to-face or online and in a semester, intensive weekend or intensive residential). A key result of this research is a framework for describing how both face-to-face and electronic communication strategies can be used to carry out faculty support activities. The framework was particularly useful for analyzing the adjunct faculty support model that evolved within Lesley Universityís large regional and national programs. Faculty in those programs prefer to use a hybrid approach to faculty support in which face-to-face communication strategies are used to build relationships, and then electronic tools are used to sustain them. Online learning communities may be most valuable for sustaining the unique participatory and developmental model of adjunct faculty support that has become the hallmark of the largest programs at Lesley University. Inherent value and motivation for participation are the most important factors in the success of online communities, while training, support, membership policies and participation structures also impact success. These factors are all at least as important, if not more important, than the technical capabilities afforded by the system. Academic programs should use the framework presented in this report to help them examine the communication strategies they are already using to carry out their faculty support activities and go beyond that to consider how online communities can enhance their practice.
Main Goal
Determine the course mentoring needs of diverse educational programs at Lesley University and analyze how an electronic community [myLesley] can be used to meet these needs.
Specific Objectives
The project would have the following specific objectives:

  • Identify the current models of mentoring in the diverse educational programs.
  • Identify the mentoring needs in the diverse educational programs.
  • Identify different ways mentoring can be facilitated through an electronic community [myLesley].
  • Produce recommended mentoring practices and recommended models for using an electronic community to meet the identified mentoring needs.
  • Recommend strategies to help educational programs implement these practices.

    on the web

    Final Research Report, Rough Draft [MS Word]
    Lesley Academic Technology Institute [Web Site] | Workshop Presentation [MS PowerPoint]
    Preliminary Bibliography [MS Word]

    © Mary E. Hopper [MEHopper] | MEHopper@TheWorld.com [posted 02/02/05 | revised 02/02/05]