Thursday, November 13, 2008

Managing Online Burnout: Tips #7-10

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Below you will find some final tips for managing online burnout. Now that we are nearing the end of the semester, some of you may be already experiencing some of the symptoms I mentioned on Monday! Please feel free to add any other tips that might help faculty, staff, and administrators:

Tip #7: Take a break.

Back away from your monitor and do something that does not require use of your computer. Rest your eyes. Take a walk. File some papers. As hard as it may be, try to keep your weekends to yourself and to your family and/or friends. Otherwise, that feeling of “24/7” will begin to overwhelm you. You may also consider applying for faculty leave or taking a summer off if possible.

Tip #8: Use the resources available to help you.

More and more administrators are becoming aware of the time and effort it takes to produce a quality online course. If your plate is full, and you just never seem to find the time to concentrate on course development or skill building, talk to your Chair or Department Coordinator. He/she may be able to juggle your work load to accommodate for this request since quality course development benefits everyone involved. At the very least, work with one of our outstanding TWU instructional designers to help assist you with course development.

Tip #9: As Thoreau once wrote, “Simplify, simplify, simplify!”

Start by clarifying your job responsibilities and (if applicable) tenure requirements. Like all service-oriented professionals, we have a tendency to feel guilty about saying “no.” Because of this, we often have too much on our plate. Determining how much of those portions come from external demands and expectations and how much we put there ourselves is a critical step in reducing and eliminating burnout. In my case, I knew that I could not remain a program coordinator, teach two online classes (over 20), advise 12 doctoral and Masters students writing dissertations and theses, generate my own research and publications, run a community grant-funded program, and be a mom and a wife. My work units as junior faculty had climbed to 23! I had to pare down.

Tip #10: Don’t try to do everything at once.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology because it evolves at lightening speed. You may be feeling like you’re “constantly running” to stay up with the current trends. Keeping abreast of what is going on in E-learning is important, but don’t try to do more than you can handle. Often times, your students may not be ready, either. So take it one step at a time. Try incorporating a new tool once per semester (or year) and/or focus on quality of your design and instruction. Sometimes even the simplest of online courses (text-based) can be more effective than an online classroom that is “uber-tooled,” and chaotic.

To read more about conquering professional burn-out, link to some of the helpful resources below:

Understanding and Preventing Teacher Burn-out (Wood & McCarthy, 2002).

Can’t Get No Satisfaction. (Senior, 2006).

Job Burn-out: Understand the symptoms and take action. (, n.d.)

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