Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

John Matt

Commitee Members

William McCaw, Patty Kero, Frances O'Reilly, Ryan R. Schrenk


University of Montana


Online education is rapidly growing in higher education. To stay competitive, many colleges and universities have begun to offer online classes. Some institutions even offer complete degree programs online. This has left colleges needing to hire more part-time remote adjuncts to fill the fluctuating number of available courses. Because remote online adjuncts are susceptible to isolation, the need has arisen to study the benefits and barriers of virtual collaboration. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine the virtual collaboration lived experiences of remote online adjuncts. The study helped unveil the motives and lived experiences of virtual collaboration among online adjuncts.

The current research is sparse when narrowed down to the population of remote online adjuncts. Because remote online adjuncts are a specific population of professors, the barriers and benefits to virtual collaboration may be different from faculty who work full-time in a brick and mortar building. Because virtual collaboration among remote online adjuncts is not pervasive in the current literature, the phenomenological approach allowed the searching of patterns across participants.

The central question asked: What effective virtual collaboration lived experiences are remote online adjuncts using to influence their teaching strategies to develop as professionals? The interview replies from 10 remote online adjuncts created the significant statements about virtual collaboration. The composite description revealed nine themes about how participants experience virtual collaboration. The study suggests that higher education leaders would be well served to focus their efforts on leadership that will promote virtual collaboration practices. It is advisable that higher education leaders look for ways to provide leadership to connect collaborators, create opportunities for collaboration, and define clear roles for virtual collaboration. Remote online adjuncts may find camaraderie, social connections, an opportunity to participate in scholarship, a chance for self-reflection, and develop a sense of pride through virtual collaboration. Barriers that must be overcome for virtual collaboration included trust, a lack of time, and a feeling of pressure to participate.



© Copyright 2014 Lori Schieffer