Developing Belief in Online Teaching

Efficacy and Digital Transformation




Identity, Efficacy, Blended learning, Staff development, Early adopters


Digital pedagogies, blended, hybrid, and online learning are not new, indeed discussions about their role in higher education are well documented. With some notable exceptions however, many of these discussions, and many more attempts at implementation, have been small in scale, operating at the level of a single course, or even single members of staff. Barriers at national, institutional and personal levels all contributed to slow uptake of digital learning. The summer of 2020 though saw institutions across the UK, and indeed the world, forced into rapid transition to online learning in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper examines our work supporting a school - which achieved high student satisfaction rates - within a large post-92 university in this transition. With specific attention to academic identity and efficacy, we examine the approaches that were taken in helping academics to climb over the digital hurdle towards good online teaching. We suggest that a three-pronged approach is needed to overcome these barriers and create the belief in digital that is needed for a successful online transition, and for continued growth. These are a collective ‘all in it together’ approach, placing curriculum, rather than technology at the heart of the work, and also ensuring solid institutional support that does not rely on early adopters.


Abu-Alruz, J. and Khasawneh, S. (2013) Professional identity of faculty members at higher education institutions: a criterion for workplace success, Research in Post- Compulsory Education, 18:4, 431-442, DOI:
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review, 84(2), 191. DOI:
Bawane, J., & Spector, J. M. (2009). Prioritization of online instructor roles: implications for competency‐based teacher education programs. Distance education, 30(3), 383-397. DOI:
Brown, S. (2021) Are we nearly there yet? Getting the basics right for effective online learning. WonkHE (online) Available from:
Castañeda, L., & Selwyn, N. (2018). More than tools? Making sense of the ongoing digitizations of higher education. DOI:
Cucinotta, D., & Vanelli, M. (2020). WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. Acta Bio Medica: Atenei Parmensis, 91(1), 157.
Danielewicz, J. (2001). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education. Suny Press.
DiSanto, J. M., & Guevara, C. (2019). The online learning initiative: Training the early adopters. In Developing educational technology at an urban community college (pp. 79-93). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. DOI:
Flavin, M. (2020). Re-imagining Technology Enhanced Learning: Critical Perspectives on Disruptive Innovation. Springer Nature. DOI:
Flavin, M., & Quintero, V. (2018). UK higher education institutions’ technology-enhanced learning strategies from the perspective of disruptive innovation. Research in Learning Technology, 26. DOI:
Geoghegan, W. (1994). Whatever happened to instructional technology?. In Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Conference of the International Business Schools Computing Association.
Horvitz, B. S., Beach, A. L., Anderson, M. L., & Xia, J. (2015). Examination of faculty self-efficacy related to online teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 40(4), 305-316. DOI:
Jisc (2020) Teaching staff digital experience insights survey 2020 UK higher education (HE) survey findings. Jisc: London.
Johnston, E., Olivas, G., Steele, P., Smith, C., & Bailey, L. (2018). Exploring pedagogical foundations of existing virtual reality educational applications: A content analysis study. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 46(4), 414-439. DOI:
Laiho, A., Jauhiainen, A., & Jauhiainen, A. (2020). Being a teacher in a managerial university: academic teacher identity. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-18. DOI:
Lankveld, T. v., Schoonenboom, J., Volman, M., Croiset, G., and Beishuizen, J (2017) Developing a teacher identity in the university context: a systematic review of the literature, Higher Education Research & Development, 36:2, 325-342, DOI:
Marriott, T. (2021) Feeling Fake. Intuition. Issue 43, Spring 2021. Society for Education and Training.
Meredith, L. and Hardman, P. (2021). The academic experience of digitally enabled learning during Covid-19. In: WonkHE Presentation, 23rd March.
Parkman, A. (2016). The imposter phenomenon in higher education: Incidence and impact. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 16(1), 51. DOI:
QAA (2020) How UK Higher Education Providers Managed the Shift to Digital Delivery during the COVID-19 Pandemic. QAA [online] Available from:
Richter, S., & Idleman, L. (2017). Online teaching efficacy: A product of professional development and ongoing support. International journal of nursing education scholarship, 1(open-issue). DOI:
Rogers, E. M. (1962/2010). Diffusion of innovations. Simon and Schuster.
Sorgner, A., Bode, E., Krieger-Boden, C., Aneja, U., Coleman, S., Mishra, V., & Robb, A. (2017). The effects of digitalization on gender equality in the G20 economies. Kiel: Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
Tschannen-Moran, M., Hoy, A. W., & Hoy, W. K. (1998). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure. Review of educational research, 68(2), 202-248. DOI:
Weller, M. (2020) 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. DOI: