Tips For Creating A Distance Learning Program - Cincinnati State

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1 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program Brought to you by A MAGNA PUBLICATION

2 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

3 Table of Contents Quick Reference ....................................................................................................................................................6 How Serious Are We About Open Education? ........................................................................................................8 Overcoming Obstacles to Faculty Participation in Distance Education ..................................................................10 Collaborating Within Your Institution for Program Success ..................................................................................12 Different Perspectives on Distance Education: Faculty vs. Administrator ..............................................................13 Sloan Survey Finds Growth, Obstacles for Distance Education..............................................................................15 A 12-Step Program for Gaining College-Wide Support for Online Programs ..........................................................18 Twelve Lessons for Building and Running a Successful Program ..........................................................................20 Legal Issues for Distance Education Administrators: Part I and Part II..................................................................22 Trial by Fire: Online Teaching Tips That Work ....................................................................................................25 Seeking Out and Speaking For New Learner Populations: The Key to Distance Ed Leadership ..............................27 Reducing the Risk: Effects of a First-Year Experience Course for Nontraditional Students ....................................29 Avoiding the Mosquito Effect: Keys to Improving Support for Your Distance Education Students..........................30 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

4 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

5 Tips for Creating a Distance Education Program D istance education is only now overcoming its status as an academic upstart, or the poor relation of classroom education. Like any new movement, it has its growing pains. But in experiencing these challenges, its important for distance educators to know that theyre not alone. Many of these difficulties are actually common experiences, and your colleagues across the country have been working on ways to meet them and turn them to their advantage. This Distance Education Report special report is a collection of reports from the front lines, detailing how distance educators have met challenges and developed creative responses, responses like: overcoming obstacles to faculty participation in distance education lessons for building and running a successful program keys to improving support for online students faculty perspectives vs. administrator perspectives: legal issues for distance education administrators effects of a first year experience course for non-traditional students a 12-step program for gaining college-wide support for online programs We have compiled this special report to provide you with ideas that have been tested by people who have built and sustained successful distance education programs. We hope that you will take away some good ideas to apply to your own. Christopher Hill Editor Distance Education Report Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 5

6 T I P S F O R C R E AT I N G A D I S TA N C E L E A R N I N G P R O G R A M Quick Reference Best Practices compiled from the Distance Education Report Case Studies D istance education students, when compared to traditional Involve Faculty Early (8) on-campus students, are typically older, work many hours a Claudine Keenan, at the Univer- week, and are often supporting families. This profile closely sity of Massachusetts, conducted a overlaps the description of non-traditional learners and places Faculty vs. Administrator study and distance educations students among those at-risk at risk of reports that faculty members really dropping out and at risk of unsatisfactory grades. (6) appreciate the opportunity to be An estimated 50 percent of non-traditional students will leave college without present at the outset of planning a earning a degree, compared to 12 percent of traditional age students. Additionally, distance education program. In one 27 percent of non-traditional students will drop out in their first year, nearly twice case faculty members brought the the rate of traditional students. (6) proposal forward themselves. At other institutions, faculty con- What challenges need to be addressed to foster learner cerns about class size were success and retention in an online environment? expressed early enough that class size guidelines were written into Administrative Support policy before it became a con- Jody Oomen-Early and Lynda Murphy, at Texas Womans University, con- tentious issue. ducted a qualitative study of faculty members to learn what they viewed as barriers to effective online instruction. They found that there was an over- Steps to Demonstrate Support whelming sense that the administration was out of touch with what faculty from the Administration were actually experiencing. (1) Conduct an assessment of For example, workload. Despite the fact that e-learning has been in effect for faculty and student needs. (1) some time, administrators seem to think that online classes are easier to teach Participate in online instructor [than face-to-face classes]. Administrators dont understand the time it takes to training and/or teach an online create the online classroom or the prep work it takes prior to the first day of course. (1) class. (1) Look at the literature to deter- An additional element of the workload issue is the perception by faculty that mine what appropriate enroll- their institutions dump students into online courses as a way to boost enroll- ment for online courses is. (1) ment without considering the effect this has on instructor workload. (1) Provide release time for instruc- Another area of tension is technical support. Faculty and administrators both tors for course preparation. (1) agree that 24/7 technical support is appropriate but expensive. The faculty per- Develop instruments to evaluate spective is that 24/7 technical support is worth every penny and helps us online instruction. (1) get our job done, whereas the administrators perspective is that it is cost pro- Be adequately staffed to provide hibitive. (8) faculty online training programs Anne Johnson, assistant dean at Inver Hills Community College has devel- and one-on-one training from oped a series of 12 steps for getting college-wide buy-in for instituting online instructional designers and programs. Some of the steps pertinent to aligning faculty and administration multi-media specialists. (3) views include: line up support from the top, involve faculty at the beginning of planning, let faculty know that traditional courses are not going away, gradu- Instructional Design Support(2) ally introduce online tools to reluctant faculty, and reinforce that the college is A faculty member was getting not moving away from personal attention and hands on approaches to working killed on his evaluations because he with students. (7) would spend days trying to show NEXT PAGE NEXT PAGE Distance Education Report Editor: Christopher Hill MAGNA PUBLICATIONS, INC. 2718 Dryden Drive Madison, WI 53704 800.433.0499 or 608.246.3590 To subscribe: http://www.magnapubs.com/distanceeducation/ 6 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

7 his students how cycles in the body Faculty Training worked just by talking. He ulti- Teaching online can be daunting for many faculty members. Learning new mately asked for help and was put technology, meeting the needs of online learners, understanding online peda- in touch with an instructional gogy, and managing workload and time commitments are some of the chal- designer who talked with him about lenges they must deal with. (1) what the students should learn. One of the first things to do is create online course shell(s) with a consistent What came out of that was a course design. This permits incorporation of ADA and Accreditation require- series of animations that in fact did ments. (5). It also opens the door for group orientation and support activities for help the students, and his teaching students. (9) evaluations turned around. The next things to do is get faculty in an online training program that covers the technology and the pedagogy of teaching online. One approach is a com- Online Teaching Symposiums(1) pletely online program that puts faculty in the seat of a student. (3) The Texas Womans University Another approach is to establish a mentoring program to work with new has an online teaching symposium online faculty to help them through the development stages for their first during faculty development week to online class. (7) give faculty members an opportu- A distance learning design group (IDEAL) formed an intrainstitutional collab- nity to talk informally about teach- oration with an established academic program (EMOD) at Bowling Green State ing strategies, not just the nuts and University to create a hybrid online program. Instructional designers and multi- bolts of the technology, with col- media specialists were assigned to work with faculty members on their leagues who also teach online. courses. They helped them pick their way through the forest of technologies Judy Oomen-Early, assistant pro- available. They sat down with the professors and told them the pros and cons fessor at TWU, says, Having that of using various technologies and in less than a year had remade the EMOD support is helpful, and not just program. (3) social support but support in terms of the learning technology and try- Student Readiness ing to keep up with it. Just because students elect to study online, it does not mean that they do not visit the campus. Many online students at Piedmont Technical College in Student Readiness (6) Greenwood, S.C. can visit the campus, so the college designed a 90 minute Academic advisors at the Univer- live orientation course to help even students with little or no computer skills sity of Pittsburgh identified 55 stu- learn to navigate and complete an online course. (9) dents considered at-risk, and Another strategy is to create an Introduction to Online Learning type of asked them to take a first year expe- course designed to address the unique needs and challenges of non-traditional rience course. students. Macro-level topics might include development of goals; recognition of After completing three semesters, student responsibilities for their own education; recognition of diversity among 88 percent of the experimental other students; and how to access university resources. (6) group of students who took the Student learning skills may be developed by allowing students to experience course were still enrolled, versus quiz types, assignment types, or library work that they may encounter in an only 26 percent of the control group online course. The course could even cover basic computer topics like how to who did not take the course. use a word processing program. (9) Equally impressive are the QPA Students may also be exposed to habits in the online world that are analo- scores for the two groups. After gous to those in the traditional classroom like participating in online discus- three semesters, the mean term QPA sions and practicing good attendance by logging into an online course for the experimental group was frequently. (9) 2.69, a full point above the 1.96 mean for the control group. Distance Education Report Editor: Christopher Hill MAGNA PUBLICATIONS, INC. 2718 Dryden Drive Madison, WI 53704 800.433.0499 or 608.246.3590 To subscribe: http://www.magnapubs.com/distanceeducation/ 7 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

8 But his main point is idealistic, an How Serious Are We About Open appeal to higher educations core mis- sion. An educator in the widest sense Education? would say, I dont really care if youre paying tuition, if you want to learn about this material, here it is. I hope people learn something from this. And we want to share this. The Internet By Kenneth Mentor makes that possible. But if its all locked up behind passwords, its no I s distance education at public institutions failing in its promise and public, Mentor says. If were using online discussions its mission? Is it sealing off rather than develop critical thinking skills, how to longer possible. Were public employ- ees. Why are we locking this away? He appeals to the original belief in distributing learning? Because of con- might it enhance the learning experi- the democratizing potential of the cerns about privacy, intellectual ence to have a broader, less homoge- Internet. Instead of realizing online property, faculty skills, and corporate nous group to discuss with? We dont educations huge potential for outreach, publishing, courses have been almost do our education in public spaces, institutions have reverted to the same uniformly locked away in a secure says Mentor, so its hard to test how application and tuition system that uni- password-protected environment, this would be. versities have employed for hundreds closed to anyone who has not officially In a way, hes talking about the wiki of years. Weve replicated a model enrolled. principle. Mentor believes its been where only those who have the tuition But in doing this, institutions may be demonstrated that public ways of shar- money are the ones who get our stuff. surrendering some of the most impor- ing information work better. If you look Privacy is only one of several obsta- tant advantages of distance education. at open source software, for example, cles to open access. Mentor mentions The promise of distance education was you have lots of different participants, several others: its practically unlimited outreach and lots of community among the peo- capacity. Its time to take that promise ple who are working on a particular Corporate publishing and prop- seriously, Kenneth Mentor, an associate code. They share ideas, they reject erty rights. Universities are threat- professor in the department of sociol- ideas, and they work together as a ened with legal action if they dont ogy and criminal justice at the Univer- team. The product in the end is much protect a copyright owners prop- sity of North Carolina Pembroke, says. better and it happens fast. I think the erty. So they protect everything in Stop deliberately putting obstacles in same is true of learning and broader fear of a copyright issue. Mentor the way of that potential. It is a radical forms of scholarship, Mentor says. says they have been deputized to challenge to program administrators He believes that the biggest advan- protect corporate profits. today. tage of open learning from the uni- Online education has become closed versitys point of view is that it allows The universitys own intellectual in part because of privacy issues. We peer review of teaching. Its recognized property. To protect intellectual have to be concerned about FERPA, that there are online classrooms that property, administrators fashion Mentor says, and administrators are are not very vibrant learning environ- policies that seal their material to terrified by the thought of huge losses ments. If they were more open to make sure that its not widely dis- of information. Were making a lot of potential auditors, instructors might seminated. Mentor suggests that a changes on campuses in order not to have more incentive to work harder on lot of this materialcourse out- use Social Security numbers or things their courses. It might also open the lines, etc.may not really have all like that, to protect privacy. Thats a door to more scholarship of teaching that much value. very real issue. and learning, for observing and collect- Im suggesting that we have erred ing data. Faculty skills. A lot of faculty are too far on the side of caution, he adds. This should be a lot easier in an just getting started with online edu- What we really need are course deliv- online environment than it is in the cation and dont really consider ery environments that protect what regular classroom, Mentor says. But using a model other than whats needs to be protected while giving the unfortunately weve locked everybody availablewhich often means a opportunity to do other things on a out, including our colleagues. One of course management system like more public basis. What are those the things that makes scholarship Blackboard, in which content pro- other things? One is to make learning scholarship is peer review. An open opportunities available to the general classroom enables peer review. PAGE 9 8 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

9 FROM PAGE 9 Changing the system ple are coming in and using materials Mentor is pessimistic about persuad- that I have posted on the Internet for tection is engineered in. We dont ing administrators to do anything like my classes. But theyre not really par- have very many faculty saying, his open course ideaat least not on a ticipating at a level where their lack of You know, maybe it would make one-by-one basis. His hope lies in the knowledge would be a negative. more sense to try it a different possibility that there are the roots of a way, Mentor says. movement here. Faculty do some- Idealism times get involved in these decisions, This is idealistic and Im thinking State laws or proposed state laws. he says with some irony. Greater fac- people are just going to say all right, Some form of social networking ulty involvement in things like choos- fine, another liberal who doesnt really structure is the obvious way to do ing a course management system understand what were putting up the kind of open teaching and would be a prerequisite for such a with, says Mentor. But what were learning that Mentor is talking movement. A higher level of faculty putting up with, thats a way to pre- about. But state legislators are interest in such issues might tip the vent change. nervous about sexual predators on decision-making process from being Mentor understands that moving to social networking sites. States are based on cost alone to being based on an open environment will take a new beginning to pass laws that would pedagogical needs. skill set for the technical support staff punish educators for using Face- Its important that universities not trained to run Blackboard or other pro- book or Second Life as a class discourage people who are trying to do prietary CMSs. So in some ways uni- environment. Instructors would creative things. If youre in an environ- versities are caught in a technology have to make sure that students ment where the university says, Were traptheyre stuck doing the same were over 18 or had parental per- paying a lot of money to use Black- thing over and over because thats mission to be online. Security is a board, then its a disincentive to a fac- what they know how to do. concern with the online class- ulty member who might be interested I realize its philosophical and room, Mentor admits. An envi- in trying different things. administrators would tend to dismiss ronment like MySpace will this as nave, says Mentor. And per- inevitably be seen as too public. Handling unlimited enrollment haps it is. But we havent really taken [Lets say] a 17-year-old freshman How would a course with unlimited the time to stand back and look at this. is in my class; if we are doing dis- enrollment be handled? This is not Weve only been teaching online for 10 cussions in a public area, theres really an issue, that youre suddenly or 12 years. This is very new. Blink-of- the chance that a predator will going to have hundreds of people an-eye new as far as education overall. come into my classroom and when the university says you should Maybe we should stop once in a while befriend that person, and it will be have 30, Mentor says. Its more likely and look at it and ask what sorts of in an even more trusted environ- that two or three might drop in. If the environments are we creating. Whats menttheyre in class. Lawmakers course is capped at 20, thats not giv- our responsibility to the public, and may end up restricting this sort of ing me a whole lot more work. He are we satisfying that responsibility thingthrowing the baby out with might even decide to give them some with the things were doing? the bathwater. feedback, [The university] ought to encourage me to do that, he says, Resources. University technical though he stops short at grading support people are usually very papers for drop-ins. If the class were busy. A tool such as Blackboard suddenly to get so unwieldy that it makes their work easier than if couldnt be managed, that would be they had to satisfy faculty all over another issue to face. But Ive never campus who wanted to use differ- seen anything come even close to ent models. From the university that. administrators point of view, any- What about prerequisites? Wouldnt thing that makes it easier for reluc- insufficiently experienced students be tant faculty to go online is good. a drag on the rest of the class? Mentor Mentor says, We end up with a asserts that thats another false prem- lowest common denominator in ise because, again, he doesnt antici- the selection of courseware. pate enough people showing up to seriously interfere with the pace of the class. I have seen evidence that peo- Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 9

10 research, teaching, and advising, but Overcoming Obstacles to Faculty Im given this mantle of responsibility to help with online programs. Im Participation in Distance sure its different in every university, but when you have a very young infra- Education structure or no infrastructure, I think the challenges and pressure for faculty are immense. I think thats why you have faculty leaving academia right now, because if you dont have an By Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti infrastructure, if you dont have course designers, if you dont have faculty training, if you dont have examples or T eaching online can be daunting for many faculty members. Learning new technology, meeting the needs of sense that the administration was out of touch with what faculty were actu- ally experiencing, Oomen-Early says. templates or models for your virtual universities to have a good handle on, I think it can overwhelm you, and thats online learners, understanding online For example, workload: The fact that, where I think you start getting burnout pedagogy, and managing workload and even though e-learning has been in and start getting professors who hear time are some of the challenges they effect for so long, administrators some- about this and dont want to get must deal with. And it is up to aca- how perceived that online classes were involved with it. demic leaders to provide the support easier to teach [than face-to-face With a disproportionate burden for and resources that will encourage fac- classes]. Administrators didnt under- teaching online placed on tenure-track ulty to teach online and continue stand the time it took to create the faculty, it is essential to have an teaching online. online classroom or the prep work it effective means of giving these faculty Two researchers at Texas Womans took prior to the first day of class. due credit for this work, which can be University conducted a qualitative Another element of the workload difficult given the overall lack of under- study of faculty members who had issue was faculty perception that their standing of what online teaching been teaching for at least two semes- institutions tended to dump students entails. ters to learn what they viewed as into online courses as a way to boost This was an impediment at TWU to barriers to effective online instruction enrollment without considering the developing an evaluation tool for and to explore what administrators effect on instructor workload. online instructors. The faculty senate, could do to reduce or remove these The extra work involved and the which drives teaching evaluation, was impediments. administrations lack of understanding made up mostly of senior faculty mem- Distance Education Report spoke to make teaching online particularly chal- bers, many of whom had not taught these two researchers: Jody Oomen- lenging for faculty seeking tenure. online and didnt understand its chal- Early, an assistant professor in the According to Schifter (2002), junior lenges. When I wanted to do some- department of health studies at TWU, faculty may be reluctant to teach thing as simple as putting a course and Lynda Murphy, TWUs director of online because of the amount of work evaluation online to give to online stu- distance education, about the study involved and the potential that it will dents, the faculty senate was totally and their experiences regarding barri- distract them from their research, opposed to it, Murphy says. They ers to effective online instruction on which at most institutions is a top were scared that faculty would be eval- their campus. tenure requirement. uated on the technology and not their The following are some themes that On the other hand, the perception of teaching skills. Weve gone through a emerged from the study and solutions participants in this study was that lot of talk, and now our faculty senate that Oomen-Early and Murphy suggest: tenured faculty often choose not to is very much on board with doing teach online, placing much of the bur- online evaluations. But that was a slow Administrative and den on tenure-track faculty. process. It was a lot of education that institutional support I think a lot of faculty are feeling we had to do for the faculty senate, Impediment: Lack of understanding pressure, Oomen-Early says. My because they really didnt understand among administrators as to the time roles as an assistant professor now are the issues. and effort involved in teaching online. quite different than others from years Solutions: Based on their research It was truly interesting as we were ago, in that Im expected to not only and experience, Oomen-Early and reading through the data to find out uphold tenure requirements for publi- Murphy recommend the following that there was just this overwhelming cation and teaching, which was ways to overcome the impediment of 10 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

11 a lack of understanding on the part of technology, they are so used to imme- terms of the learning technology and academic leaders: diacy and feedback, and so I know that trying to keep up with it. TWU also Conduct a needs assessment of some instructors, including myself, feel has some seed money available for faculty and students. that unless you are good at setting faculty to conduct research on instruc- Participate in online instructor boundaries and can turn it off, it seems tional technology and share ideas with training and/or teach an online that you are constantly on as an their peers. course. online instructor, Murphy says. A lot Look at the literature to determine of online instructors are experiencing Reference appropriate enrollment for online this, especially with the change in the Schifter, C.C. (2002). Perception dif- courses. student population. [Students] have a ferences about participating in distance Provide release time for instructors more service-oriented mind-set. I find, education. Online Journal of Distance for course preparation. especially with adult learners, that they Learning Administration, Vol. V, No. 1. Develop instruments to evaluate feel, I paid money. I want my question Accessed Jan. 14, 2008, at www. online instruction. answered, and I want it answered now. westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring51/ I see the role of the chair as piv- I want my feedback. I think that can schifter51.html. otal, Murphy says. Weve done a lot play into [faculty] burnout, especially of education with our chairs because if they are not supported as it is. we did realize that if the chair is not Solutions: Prepare students to learn behind this, its never going to work. online, assess their readiness. And its amazing to see the change. When I would go in and talk about Instructor readiness things like workload before the council Impediments: Lack of faculty under- of chairs, they would sit there and say, standing of student-centered learning, Whats the difference? Now I have keeping up with technology changes. chairs demanding that we have an Teaching online is still very new for alternate workload schedule or plan for many online instructors, and some find distance education. Our chairs have it difficult to adjust to the learner- worked hard. Were also working hard centered pedagogy that effective online to educate them. We also worked hard instruction demands. They still rely to educate our deans. I think now on that lecture, Murphy says. were working hard to educate our sen- Theyre a little nervous to let some ior administrators, because many of of the control go to students. You will them see distance education as a see beginning online instructors post money bag. Its a way to get more so much and constantly answer every enrollments, but they dont really comment on the discussion board to understand all the things going on in the point that theyre exhausted by the order for that to happen. So were end of the semester and never want to really trying to make them aware of the [teach online] again. real issues and how much effort it The faculty in this survey indicated really does take. that they need help keeping up with distance learning technologies and Student readiness understanding effective ways to apply Impediments: Lack of understanding them to their courses. about what online learning entails, Solutions: Online teaching lack of technical skills, unrealistic symposium, peer support. demands. TWU has an online teaching sympo- When students are not properly pre- sium during faculty development week pared to learn online, they require that gives faculty members an opportu- more support from their instructors nity to talk informally about teaching and often expect immediate feedback strategies, not just the nuts and bolts of on their assignments and threaded dis- the technology, with colleagues who cussion participation. also teach online, Oomen-Early says. We know that, especially with stu- Having that support is helpful, and dents who are involved with Web 2.0 not just social support but support in Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 11

12 They assigned instructional designers Collaborating Within Your and multimedia specialists to work with the faculty on the course. Institution for Program Success 5. Know the market and know the subject. EMOD was targeting business professionalspeople already estab- lished in their careerswho wanted to learn about solving problems dealing By Christopher Hill with organizational change. Some courses would involve change manage- H ow does collaboration between an established academic program and a distance learning design group work, program into a blended formatwhat it would look like and what would need to happen. The training, the ment, organizational development, organizational behavior, organizational systems, statistics, etc. when it really works? Terence Armen- technology, all those sorts of things We knew that the students they tano, assistant director of distance just started coming together, Armen- were marketing for would be highly education at Bowling Green State Uni- tano says. They contacted us and we engaged, active professionals who versity, oversaw a successful collabora- would get together and have initial would need that flexibility and accessi- tion between his group, IDEAL meetings about what needed to happen bility to have access to the course (Interactive Distance Education for All to develop a successful blended pro- material, Armentano says. IDEAL Learners), and the executive masters of gram. Armentanos group tried to wanted to focus on asynchronous tools organizational development (EMOD) bring out what kind of instructional for delivery, but also included synchro- program at Bowling Green. design strategy they wanted to use, nous tools. However, some students The EMOD program wanted to go aiming at a consistent look and feel lived in different states and there were online, but not all the way online. Its across the program. various time zones, so we had to members still cherished the face-to- 3. Maintain good communication. think about how we could develop pro- face interaction of the traditional class- One of the key things that makes this grams where students can cooperate room and so were looking for a kind of venture successful is good and and have group work in a way that blended solution. They opened discus- open communication. They knew that gives them some independent time to sions with Armentanos group and in we were invested in what they were do it. less than a year had remade their doing, that we wanted to help them 6. Offer side benefits. One side program. Heres how they did it. out and help them to realize that we benefit in creating the program is that 1. Know what you want. EMODs were here on campus as a service to students are actually using some of the members decided from their evaluation them to help them fulfill the goals that technologies that businesses are using of the market that they wanted to go they had in mind, says Armentano. to communicate and collaborate within blended, partially online and partially 4. Train your faculty. One of the their companies. So as students learn face-to-face. Originally they had their first things IDEAL had EMOD do was about these ideas, theyre also using studentsbusy corporate executives to get the faculty in an online training new tools, and learning how to collab- come in four weekends a semester. program that IDEAL had previously orate online using Web applications They wanted to cut that time down so developed at the university. It was a that enable such collaboration as wikis they could make the program more three-week, completely online training and blogs. accessible to these working profession- program that put faculty in the seat of 7. Show benefits, alleviate fears. als. EMOD was doing an assessment a student. The training program cov- When you introduce new technologies of where they were at, looking at ered the technology and the pedagogy theres often resistance. One of my trends, looking at where they wanted of teaching online. It was a mixed goals in working as an instructional to be. Realizing that my department groupsome of the faculty had done designer for this program, says was the distance learning experts on some online teaching and some had no Armentano, was to alleviate that fear campus, they connected with us, and experience at all. and [help them] see that they can actu- thats where our collaborations started IDEAL, with four designers plus ally enhance what theyre currently together, says Armentano. Armentano, was able to do one-on-one doing. Some of the changes that took 2. Envision the results. The assis- training. They helped the instructors place were in using technology to tant director of graduate studies in the pick their way through the forest of enhance the educational experience. college of business, Angela Stoller, technologies available. They sat down Professors began to like the idea of contacted Armentano and they started with the professors and told them the discussing the process of bringing the pros and cons of various technologies. 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13 FROM PAGE 12 Any school can take that program to It can be accessed at http://pace.bgsu. train its own faculty. edu/container.php?x=onlineteaching. extending their classes beyond the IDEALs faculty training program is borders of Bowling Green, Ohio. Intro- offered for free use by any institution. ducing these online tools in a way that isnt overbearing, in a way that shows them that its helpful, was really a big thing. One of the things IDEAL did to pro- Different Perspectives on mote the program with the faculty was to develop a blog for the EMOD com- Distance Education: munity. It was a way for the program to give back to the business commu- nity at large and to create a presence in Faculty vs. Administrator the blogosphere. To date its had hits from every continent but Antarctica. 8. Make incremental change. Why By Christopher Hill not take the whole program totally online? That decision was made by the college itself. The faculty wanted to maintain their face-to-face contact hours. Like I said, when youre intro- T heres no question that faculty members and administrators have different perspectives on distance the top academic officer in each case. A common concern for students ducing that new technology, you have education, but there has been little Although people in each category a lot of fears and misconceptions about research on the ways in which these had different ways of expressing their the way those tools work, Armentano differences play out. To better under- opinions about distance education, says. But he believes that as soon as stand the interactions between these there were many similarities across the faculty get their feet wet, they have groups, Claudine Keenan, a doctoral board. such realizations as, Oh I can have student in the University of Massachu- Everybody is concerned about stu- just as effective a discussion using setts higher education leadership pro- dents and expresses that in their own these discussion boards as actually gram and executive assistant to the language. Administrators spoke about having the students coming here to provost at Richard Stockton State students in terms of enrollment growth class. College in New Jersey, compared the and retention, student satisfaction as a 9. Be adequately staffed. IDEAL has language used by faculty and adminis- customer-service function. They used four instructional designers, a director, trators at three institutions that had aggregate numbers, whereas faculty and an associate dean. They are recently launched or planned to launch spoke about student interaction and reviewing this staffing now because as complete (degree or certificate) online access. They talked about how theyre more programs go online adequate programs. reaching more students and how support and staff are demanded. The Keenan, who has taught online since theyre having deeper conversations way we did this project is that I was 1996, used interviews and document with students. The faculty members pretty much the lead instructional analysis (including print and online language was much more personal and designer and I would pretty much be documents) to monitor the dialogue anecdotal, and the administrators lan- the main liaison between us and about distance education at a commu- guage was more data-driven. When a them, Armentano says. I would meet nity college, a doctoral institution, and faculty member talks about having with each individual faculty member a small, private liberal arts college. access to more students than ever, he who was going to teach it, look at their I was looking specifically for pro- or she is saying the same thing as an syllabus, talk about their goals, and grams that had launched within the administratorthat our enrollment is help them put together the design of last two years or that were in the plan- growing. the course. ning stages. I wanted to catch the con- Similarly, faculty and administrators IDEALs three-week online training versations while they were still new, both spoke of student (customer) satis- program for faculty has turned out to Keenan says. faction. However, this idea played out benefit the entire university. Its been Keenan interviewed adjunct and full- differently depending on the persons so successful that IDEAL is offering a time faculty who were involved in position. For example, one faculty similar version through the continuing these programs as well as those who education department to all teachers. were not, IT staff members, CIOs, and PAGE 14 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 13

14 FROM PAGE 13 factor to faculty members participation from the administrators perspective it in the program was the greater flexibil- is very costly. member said, Its like I can see what ity in the range of teaching roles found One of Keenans goals of this study theyre thinking. Theyre writing what at associate colleges. was to try to bridge the differences theyre thinking on these listservs, chat From previous experience, Keenan between faculty members and adminis- boards, and other technologies. expected to observe substantial resist- trators. With these differences in mind, Observing the same phenomenon, an ance to distance education among fac- Keenan offers the following advice for administrator looks to this kind of ulty members, but she found little of those developing a distance education interaction as a selling point or a factor that in her study. As a faculty member program: that improves student retention. and consultant, she attended many Have faculty involved from the faculty senate meetings at which some beginning. Faculty members [in Institutional differences faculty members were openly opposed this study] really appreciated the Although her sample size was not to distance education, believing that it opportunity to be present at the large enough to make any generaliza- was inferior to face-to-face instruction. outset of the plan. In one case, [the tions, Keenan did observe some differ- One possible explanation for why associate college] faculty members ences among the different institution Keenan did not observe this resistance brought the proposal forward types. For one, she had difficulty find- was the studys methodology. Perhaps themselves. They knew students ing a complete online program at a a nonparticipant who was opposed to werent able to complete their small liberal arts college that met her distance education just didnt feel degrees in four or five years criteria. I found that many of the compelled to talk to a researcher. Or because they couldnt make it to online programs that have been perhaps research showing no signifi- class. The faculty members announced in the last three to five cant difference between the learning enjoyed being in the drivers seat years seem to be professional programs outcomes of distance education and for that one. The faculty members such as business and health care. face-to-face education had dispelled at the other institutions enjoyed Were not finding online literature pro- those misgivings. being at the table, being present grams, for instance, Keenan says. for the discussions where adminis- (Because the liberal arts program was Areas of tension trators were planning these types difficult to find, Keenan is still analyz- Although not unique to distance edu- of programs, Keenan says. ing the data, so much of this article cation, faculty and administrators in Communicate regularly. Talk to focuses on the associate college and this study disagreed about class size. each other early and often. The the doctoral institution.) The administrators felt that class size concerns that faculty members Keenan expected to find faculty could be bigger but wanted success, so expressed about class size were resistance to distance education in the they went with what faculty members expressed early enough that it was doctoral institution but didnt find any, recommended, Keenan says. largely written into policy before it because only one full-time faculty The other main area of tension was became a contentious issue, and member was involved in the program, technical support. Faculty and adminis- Ive seen it in institutions outside and none of the full-time faculty mem- trators both agreed that 24/7 technical this study where the train has bers were required to participate. As support was appropriate, but budgetary left the station and they are over for the quality of the program, the realities often make support beyond enrolling with 60 students per program director immediately allayed regular business hours unattainable. section. concerns by clearly articulating the Faculty recognized the reality of it. reasons and benefits of staffing the One faculty member said, If it comes program with adjuncts. The program down to the difference between hiring does not use adjunct faculty to reduce evening [technical staff] and another costs but rather to bring in national faculty member, Id hire another fac- experts who hold full-time positions in ulty member, Keenan says. their respective fields. Although faculty members generally understood the compromise on techni- Friction in the two-year school cal support and there was no major At the associate college, on the other friction on this issue, they still viewed hand, there was some friction. To it differently than administrators. From accommodate student demand, many the faculty perspective, 24/7 technical faculty members were asked to teach support is worth every penny and distance courses. Another contributing helps us get our job done, whereas 14 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

15 faculty is entrenchedthere is overall Sloan Survey Finds Growth, a group of faculty that dont believe in the value of online education. Eighteen Obstacles for Distance Education percent absolutely dont agree that their faculty are accepting the value and legitimacy of online education, and that doesnt change. Seaman: Its been the same over all By Christopher Hill the surveys, and if anything the opin- ion is getting slightly more negative. R eporting on its largest study to date, the Sloan Consortium says that online learning is continuing to 1.6 million people thought it was going to keep growing close to 20 percent. Then, when we went back the follow- Weve asked this question over three years and the results, by type of school, size of school, Carnegie classi- grow, without any sign of a plateau. ing year, we were astonished to find it fication, are remarkably consistent There were 3.2 million students who had grown by about 20 percentmore every year, with no major changes at took at least one course online in 2005 than 20 percent, actually. This past all. (the last year for which complete data year, which was looking at fall 2005, it The types of schools, the proportion is available), up from 2.3 million the grew at a rate faster than we had seen of them that thought their faculty were previous year. Forty-four hundred in the previous years; it grew 35 per- on board, the percentage of people schools on the Federal Inventory of cent, so both the percentage growth who say, I get cooperation, theyre Higher Education were contacted for and the actual numeric growth far supportive of online education, are the survey, and with more than exceeded anything wed seen in the not changing at all over any of those 55 percent responding, a picture of the previous years. survey years. And the proportion say- growth and acceptance of distance Allen: So we dont think its plateau- ing they have a big problem, [the fac- education in the United States ing any time soon. ulty] are openly hostile to it, hasnt emerged. Seaman: And further evidence of changed at all either. We see no move- Yet despite the strong growth rate, that is when we ask schools if they still ment one way or the other in faculty pockets of resistance remain. An expect growth, theyre still expecting attitudes. immovable core remains unconvinced growth in excess of 20 percent per year. We did ask one other question about of the value of online education, some- the acceptance of online education, thing that may only slowly begin to DER: What are they basing their and that was if they saw a lack of shift. projections on? acceptance of online degrees from Distance Education Report talked to Seaman: Its all over the map. Its an potential employers, and there are very Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, co- individual thing for each school. It few who see that as a problem. Its authors of the report, titled Making the might be a self-fulfilling prophecy: only about one in four at the schools Grade: Online Education in the United The numbers are growing like mad, that are not engaged in online. The States, 2006. They laid out for us in Im going to get my share, and Im number gets down to below one in 10 detail what the new research means for going to grow as much as anybody among the people who are actively distance education and what the future else. But what we see is that for many engaged in online programs who see is likely to hold. schools they notice the demand out any issue in the acceptance of online there, theyre launching new programs, degrees among potential employers. DER: Youve been doing this survey or they have plans to expand programs for three years, havent you? or to convert a small program into a DER: Do you see the possibility of a Seaman: Yes. Every year we go out large program, and so theyre basing it shift in attitudes, where that hard and ask a few questions about the on very specific actions theyre taking. core of opposition might shrink or numbers. One is, How many? and break up? another is, What do you expect to hap- DER: What did you find out about Allen: The trend would not appear pen next year with your enrollments? the acceptance of distance education? to be in favor of that happening, but Do you expect them to stay the same, Allen: While the number of people we are going to be doing this survey to grow, to decrease? And if theyre that agree [that online education is for at least four more years. So that going to grow, by how much? We being accepted by their institution] will be very interesting for us to watch. always ask about the preceding fall, so increases, theres the same number Seaman: We have nothing here that in 2003 we asked about 2002, and the that disagree pretty much every year. answer to the first question was that There seem to be schools where the PAGE 16 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 15

16 FROM PAGE 15 Theyre the most positive on almost all theyre looking to study, the level the dimensions of online. Yet, theres theyre at, is exactly the mix that the says we should be looking for a funda- still a number of them who say the community college typically serves. mental difference in that. But weve faculty are not on board. Community colleges serve a huge got this tension rising among the Now, if you go to the ones that are proportion of the higher education schools. An increasing number of them least engaged, a small private bac- base, not just online. Its just that their say that online is critical to their long- calaureate institution, they are more proportion of online far exceeds that at term strategy and theyre seeing phe- likely to say that their faculty dont most other types of schools. And what nomenal growth in their online support it. But the differences arent were seeing is that theyre growing programs. They see that their programs that big. The faculty acceptance at the faster as well. It may be because they are going to continue to grow at a fast small baccalaureate and the faculty have a particular outreach mission. rate, and at the same time they say acceptance at the large public, those Community colleges serve the working they have issues of acceptance with are not huge differences. population. We know from research their faculty. Allen: Even at small liberal arts weve done that the online student is So at some point the two sides are schools theres some degree of engage- much more likely to have work respon- going to bang heads. Its an issue thats ment with online. Absolutely. There is sibilities. going to have to be resolved one way not a classification of school for which or another. What may be happening there is no activity. No matter how you DER: What about faculty percep- now is that people are accepting that slice and dice it, theres some subset of tions of the quality of distance the faculty as a whole dont accept it, those schools that have some online. education compared to face-to-face? but they can find enough individual Its just that the levels can be so much Seaman: Weve asked that question faculty members who can teach the lower. But yes, even at the small liberal for three years. Our question is phrased courses to keep them going, because arts schools, where as a class theyre in terms of comparing learning out- its still less than one-quarter of their the most negative, there are people comes, and we specifically ask them to total enrollments. Yet if it keeps grow- who are involved, who are talking compare online versus face-to-face so ing, it might reach the critical point about online. that theyre making comparisons where theyve got to convince more Theyre growing. Theyre at a much within their own world of what their faculty to get involved, because thats lower level, but theyre growing as offerings are. The bulk of these people, going to be a damper on growth if it well. Possibly growing at the same no matter who they are, say theyre keeps growing at its current rate. We rate, but I hesitate to give you a figure, equivalent. They say that the two come dont know what the answer is going because the sample is so small at that out the same. Theres a smaller group to be, but it does look like in the next level its hard to give a statistically saying online is actually better thats few years somethings got to shake out accurate estimate. We dont have any- been increasing over time. But theres on that. thing to say theyre not growing. One about a third of them that say no, It also may be that what will happen thing is that they all believe theyre onlines not as good, face-to-face is still over time is that, because there are serving new students. So even for a superior. more online students every year, there small baccalaureate, they dont see it Does that change depending on how will be more faculty every year with as a way of keeping their enrollees, engaged you are with online? The experience online. So it may be that they see it as a way of expanding their answer is yes, the more engaged you were going to convert the faculty enrollees by finding a new student are with online, the less likely you are from within, because there will be base. to see it as inferior. So public institu- more and more of them who have tions that do more online, larger insti- had some online experience. But its DER: Where do you see the tutions that do more online, the all speculation. strongest growth? specialized community colleges that do Allen: The largest growth is at com- more online, are more likely to have a DER: Is there more resistance at munity colleges. Thats where we see higher opinion of the quality of the certain types of institutions? the biggest stakeholders in online. If offering. Seaman: Yes, but the differences are youre a large university, you will have Allen: But one thing that you have to not huge. The institutions that are more students online, but our growth remember is that these chief academic most heavily engaged in online educa- potential that weve seen over the last officers have a bit of a conflict, because tion tend to be the large public institu- three years seems to be in community if theyre offering both, theyre much tions, which have the highest colleges. more likely to say theyre the same enrollments, which are most likely to The typical students who are online, say its part of their long-term strategy. the mix of what theyre studying, what PAGE 17 16 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

17 FROM PAGE 16 DER: What is the trend for blended chief academic officer at each of the or hybrid courses? sub-universities and colleges. It goes to than one is better than the other, Allen: Actually, when we started this each campus, not a system office. because theyre offering both. So survey, one thought we had was that in some ways I think its a loaded there was some kind of life cycle of DER: How do you select the schools question. moving into online, that colleges would that you survey? Seaman: Which means that those move into blended learning and then Seaman: The survey goes out to people who are saying its not the online, but were not seeing that at all. every school in the country. Every sameits either worse or better Colleges going directly into online and higher ed institution, whether theyre must hold their beliefs pretty strongly. blended courses are not increasing. accredited or not, that grants a degree. There are more saying its worse than One thing that surprised us is that the If theyre included in the Federal Gov- that its better, but the trend is exactly percentage of colleges involved in ernment Inventory of Higher Educa- in the opposite direction. The people blended learning is not increasingthe tion, theyre included in our sample. who are saying its worse, their num- growth is all in online courses. About 4,400 is the total size of the bers are going down every year, and Seaman: It is clear that blended universe. We do include for-profits, if the people who are saying its better, learning was a kind of a psychological theyre granting degrees and open to their numbers are going up every year. crutch for some people who were the public. afraid to get dumped all the way into DER: You talk about obstacles to online until theyd had some experi- DER: What was your response rate? the growth of online education. What ence. But its also clear that there was Seaman: The past year our are they? this relatively small group for whom overall response rate was a bit over Seaman: The things that are cited as the blended experience was a particu- 55 percent. obstacles I dont think are going to larly good match, and theyre going to interfere with that rate of growth. continue. And there are very strong DER: Do you weight the results in One is that students have to have advocates of blended programs to meet any way? more discipline to succeed in an online these particular niches, and theyre not Allen: We weight the survey based course. Thats the number one reason going to go away. on the size of the school, the Carnegie cited, and I dont think thats going to Allen: I think that business schools class, the region that the school is in, impede growth with these students. with their executive MBAs and week- whether its public or private, so that The second one is that it takes more end MBAs are probably here for the when we do things like enrollment faculty effort to teach online, and my long term. They have a fast-track estimates we want to make sure that if guess is that this group may change online and they have a blended where theres a response bias it is filtered out. and it wont be such a problem once you come in once every two months Schools that do online are much more they become established in the online for a long weekend. And then we have likely to answer the survey, and we world. our two-year face-to-face or our one- control for that, so were not allowing For schools that have just jumped in, year face-to-face evening program. If a larger response from larger public it takes a big amount of overhead to you have the whole menu and youre institutions to give us a bias. We want get the technology in place, to get the getting revenue, and youre reaching to make sure that when we give you a faculty ready to teach it, to take a different students, youre unlikely to number from the survey, it does repre- course and transition it to online. From give it up. sent a true national number. an institutional point of view, theres the cost. You pay someone to develop a DER: Lets talk about the methodol- Making the Grade: Online Education new online course and you dont have ogy of the survey. First of all, who are in the United States, 2006 can be to pay to roll out another face-to-face you talking to at the individual downloaded at http://www.sloan- course. To take a course that youve schools? c.org/publications/survey/pdf/mak- delivered for years and update it for Seaman: Were talking to what ing_the_grade.pdf next year, thats just a normal work- would be the chief academic officer at load. Taking that same course and each institution, so typically that per- converting it to online, youve got to son would have the title of provost or budget additional expenses and time academic vice presidentthe person to get those things out there. But those who has the responsibility for planning tend to be one-time conversion issues and running the academic programs. more than ongoing long-term issues. Allen: At the University of Califor- nia, for example, we would have the Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 17

18 5. Mollify the facultys concerns A 12-Step Program for Gaining I think there was concern that the college would be moving away from College-Wide Support for Online what weve been known forpersonal attention and a hands-on approach to Programs working with students, Johnson says. Faculty are often fearful that their school will become an online institu- tion thats no longer focused on the needs of the students. You have to By Christopher Hill make it clear that you are an institution where the traditional classes arent going away, that distance classes I f you want an uphill struggle, try instituting an online program at your school without getting college-wide only outlines the strategic goals for the college to improve online programming but also lets faculty know that tradi- are simply an additional service for students. Driven by the office of the chancel- buy-in. Many have tried it, to their cha- tional classes are not going away. lor, the goal at Inver Hills, as at most grin. Its a lengthy, grueling process, colleges, is to increase access for stu- with the possibility of failure always 3. Take baby steps dents. One way to do that is to provide present. On the other hand, if you start Johnsons team tried to introduce alternative forms of programming in the buy-in process from the very begin- faculty to online in various low-key classes. ning and go about it thoughtfully step ways. The online group at Inver Hills by step, its surprising and gratifying put together professional development 6. Make plenty of space for what you can accomplish. days for online faculty. The approach faculty who want to stick with face- Anne Johnson, assistant dean at Inver was to offer sessions to those who to-face learning Hills Community College near St. Paul, were interested in gradually moving There are some faculty who are not was charged with developing an online into online teachingsometimes with comfortable teaching online, who like capacity for her institution, and she has a task as simple as putting a grade to teach face-to-face, and thats fine, a series of 12 steps that, if followed book online or trying out an online dis- Johnson says. And there are faculty deliberately, can guarantee a much cussion. We have tried not to be intru- who prefer the online environment, more pleasant experience, to the ulti- sive with it. Its just showing them and thats fine as well. Weve learned mate benefit of instructors and students. tools so they can make better teaching to work with faculty who are comfort- a little bit easier. able in the areas that they prefer. 1. Start at the beginning From the beginning, its important to 4. Dont force your faculty 7. Have faculty incentives get faculty involved with the strategic We arent intrusive with faculty Inver Hills faculty are offered incen- planning stages arranged so that fac- who are not currently online, Johnson tives for three or four years; they ulty have a voice in the change that says. We mention that were offering receive stipend money for developing will be occurring in the institution. online courses, and if the faculty mem- courses entirely online. We thought it From the very beginning, we included ber is not interested in doing that, then was important to reward them in mon- faculty in strategic planning initiatives we dont talk them into it. We dont etary terms for their efforts and for to help with this and get on board with require them to do it. their extra time in developing online it, Johnson says. I go out and ask faculty if theyre courses, Johnson says. We also have Its necessary to acknowledge faculty interested in teaching online and faculty who are awarded State of Min- by giving them rewardswhether its explain the process to them. So, no, nesota Award of Excellence monies, direct compensation or release time for they dont come knocking on my door, and faculty have been awarded monies taking the extra time and energy to per se, but sometime I do ask them if to get an online peer review process develop and teach courses online. theyre interested in teaching online, going. Theyve been developing a she says. Many times, when theyre rubric and a process to put it in place, 2. Realize how faculty feel asked and the process is explained and so that our online courses are more Inver Hills faculty felt that online theyre told that theres a process for consistent because theyve gone classes would take away from tradi- stipend money, theyre willing to do through this extensive rubric. tional classes. That makes it important that. I havent had many problems so to have a specific plan in place that not far staffing online classes. PAGE 19 18 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

19 FROM PAGE 18 services. It outlined the resources needed to make quality classes to aid 8. Provide faculty training in increased enrollment. The plan Johnsons committee has also been made the point that online education is developing an online mentoring pro- becoming much more competitive. gram to work with new online faculty Distance and help them through the develop- 11. Line up support at the top ment stages for their first online class. Support from top administration is Learning The team also initiated what they call key. The greatest support, in terms of Snap, Clack, and Click sessions. initiative at Inver Hills, came from the Quick Reference These are sessions where online fac- provost, the vice president of academic ulty get together every six weeks for an affairs. And a large part of what the Sources: hour. They lead discussions on topics Inver Hills team is doing is driven by ranging from how to manage discus- the strategic goals that come from the sion boards and chats to various kinds office of the chancellor of the Min- 1.Overcoming Obstacles to of successful teaching techniques. Its a nesota State Colleges and University Faculty Participation in chance for online faculty to get system. Part of the chancellors direc- Distance Education (pg. 10) together to support one another and tion was that the various institutions discuss what goes on in their online needed to increase access and opportu- 2.Twelve Lessons for Building environment. nity for students. Since one way to do and Running A Successful that is with online programs, Inver Program (pg. 20) 9. Get everyone involved Hills president has also become a At the beginning, Inver Hills had a great supporter. 3.Collaborating Within Your strategic planning session that dealt Institution for Program Success with online programming, meeting 12. Remember, faculty are your best (pg. 12) with faculty, administration, and stu- advocates dent services representatives. Faculty Youre always going to have people 5.Legal Issues for Distance still remain involved in planning. The who resist change, but I think weve Education Administrators: initial planning session became three done very well implementing our Part I and Part II (pg. 22) ongoing subcommittees: a student change on campus, says Johnson. services subcommittee, a staff subcom- When you get faculty who are really 6.Reducing the Risk: Effects of a mittee, and the academic committee. interested and enthusiastic about First Year Experience Course online learning, it spreads to other fac- for Non-Traditional Students 10. Have a business plan for upper- ulty, and faculty are the best advocates (pg. 29) level administration for getting other faculty involved. To gain college-wide support, the 7.A 12-Step Program for Gaining Inver Hills distance ed team felt it was College-Wide Support for important to put together a business Online Programs (pg. 18) plan specifically related to online pro- gramming so that they could get 8.Different Perspectives on support from the president, the vice Distance Education: president, the deans and directors, and Faculty vs. Administrator others in administrative positions. (pg. 13) They put together a plan that consid- ered the academic side and the student 9.Avoiding the Mosquito Effect: services side of the college. One impor- Keys To Improving Support tant part of the plan was looking at for Your Distance Education revenues and expenditures as they Students (pg. 30) related to online programming. The administration supported the plan because it specifically outlined what the staff wanted to doand the plan was very specific in outlining what needed to be done with student Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 19

20 gogys going on and how well I think Twelve Lessons for Building and the contents being delivered. And if I see something that needs help, Ill usu- Running a Successful Program ally contact the faculty member and offer some help. Im not sure Id call it a modelits just the way I do busi- ness with my faculty. I feel if you dont have top-down interest, from the presi- By Christopher Hill dent of the university on down, your chances of success arent very high. I t doesnt fall to many people to have to create distance graduate programs at two major research universities, but Lesson Three: Faculty will come around. What we find is that [faculty] teaching styles, their pedagogy, begin Lesson Six: Decide what model of distance ed you want to pursue. On it did to Bill Riffee. At the University of to change or adapt to different kinds of a grand scale there are three models Texas at Austin he chaired the curricu- technology that they find interesting. that people in distance education talk lum committee of the College of And then we work with the faculty to about. And those are whether you Pharmacy, which implemented a dra- see how we can improve the student interact with your students synchro- matically new professional pharmacy learning as well as the delivery of nously or asynchronously. Or a mix- curriculum in the fall of 1996. content. ture, blended or hybrid. Also in 1996, Riffee was named dean of the College of Pharmacy at the Uni- Lesson Four: Leave faculty alone, Lesson Seven: There are better versity of Florida, with the special task but make sure they have support ways than videoconferencing. You of creating online graduate pharmacy when they need it. We had a faculty will see much of the distance educa- programs. Recently, Riffee reflected on member who had difficulty explaining tion done using videoconferencinga some lessons learned from years in the various parts of his course to students. synchronous method. A terrible way to trenches. It was a biochemistry course, and in teach. I actually set up one of those that course there was a considerable systems in Texas, but its not a very Lesson One: Ultimately, how you amount of learning about cycles in the good system to use in my opinion. deliver learning and how you pay for body. He was just getting killed on his it are inextricably linked. teacher evaluations, because he would Lesson Eight: Blended is good. I The ultimate question is how do spend days on the blackboard trying to believe very strongly in an asynchro- you get this started, how do you sus- show these students how it worked nous approach. With a face-to-face tain it, how does it pay for itself, how just by talking. So when he came in to componenta blended approach. And do you compensate the faculty fairly, ask for my help, I said, Why dont you so thats my model of the three: a and so forth. Wherever I go, people are get together with an instructional blended approach to distance educa- always saying, This is the best way I designer, talk about what you would tion. For example, in one of our pro- know to approach education at a dis- like the students to learn, and see if grams 66 percent of our content is tance, and it always comes down to that designer can help you? What delivered digitally. But the rest is face- yes, but how do you afford it? came out of that was a series of anima- to-face, with active learning exercises, tions that in fact did help the students, laboratories, and so forth. And I think Lesson Two: Leave the faculty and his teaching evaluations turned that is probably the best model of alone. What I say to my faculty is, around. So its an iterative process teaching or pedagogy in distance ed. I Were going to do this thing and I with our faculty, but we try to make dont think the pure delivery of content promise you I will not ask you to things available to them to help them asynchronously without any contact change your teaching style. So we with their pedagogy. with the instructor other than an have adapted our technology to their occasional e-mail or a test grade is teaching style. As an administrator, you Lesson Five: Practice limited inter- sufficient. pretty much leave the pedagogy to the vention. Im probably more involved faculty, but you also have a fairly sig- than most deans would be. As a dean I Lesson Nine: Synchronous can be nificant development staff that can have a lot of things to do, but I also part of your mix. We use a lot of syn- help the faculty themselves develop have samples of courses that are being chronous tools in addition to actually different things. taught that are being sent to me meeting face-to-faceproducts like weekly. I can look at each of those and stay involved in what kind of peda- PAGE 21 20 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

21 FROM PAGE 20 Across the 15 or so, the average is about $14,000 per student, per year. Elluminate, where the students and the Mine is $9,500. I have approximately faculty may be in different places but the same budget as many of my peers, they are at a virtual interface. And they but I have twice as many students. So can ask questions and interact that Im able to create an economic factor way. I consider that face-to-face in the that makes our program much more sense of the students ability to interact efficient with the same or better quality in real time with the instructor. In the as my peers. The key to that is a 90s a paper was written showing that blended approach, utilizing faculty that the attitude of students toward distance are already on board, using technology education was positively correlated to leverage those faculty across dis- with the perception of interaction. This tances rather than hiring another 60 can even be done asynchronously if faculty members. you have a good discussion board. But [students] do like to have some ability Lesson Twelve: There is no direct to talk with the instructor. correlation between money and qual- ity of education. The best business Lesson Ten: Asynchronous is the model does not make for the best ped- most dependable and least expensive. agogy. The act of learning, whether The synchronous mode, when video- you do it at a distance or whether you conferencing is used, is very expensive do it on campus, is the key. and its technologically fragile. In some Too often in higher education we cases youll find if theres a weather deliver content just standing at a inversion or rain, or if somebody talks podium and talking for 50 minutes. We wrong, the system goes down. So in assume were going to transcribe our order to have high quality and in order brain into somebody elses and all to have a robust system, its very, very were doing is being human tran- expensive on an annual basis. Also, if scribers. What were seeing now is you have a face-to-face element where people still providing that content, but you actually send faculty out to where theyre asking the students to consume students are gathering, thats expensive that content outside the classroom as well, because you have to mobilize and understand it, synthesize it to their your faculty or increase the number of own database, their own knowledge, faculty. then come back with active learning But in the asynchronous mode, were exercises to actually begin applying able to capture everything that a fac- that knowledge in a clinical setting. ulty member normally does in a class- Thats where learning takes place. room, were able to store it on a video streaming server and provide very high quality to the students. And then I can blend that with face-to-face and come up with a much more efficient model of higher education that either of the other two. Lesson Eleven: Using technology to leverage faculty lowers costs. I col- lect data for about 15 of what I con- sider our peers around the country in colleges of pharmacy. I divide that by the number of doctor of pharmacy stu- dents they have, and I come up with a cost of instruction in their colleges. Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 21

22 DER: What is the difference Legal Issues for Distance between the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act? Education Administrators: DB: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was really somewhat of a precursor to Part I and Part II the Americans with Disabilities Act. It applies to certain federal contractors and federal grantees who receive fed- eral funds, and it basically imposes obligations very similar to the Ameri- By Christopher Hill cans with Disabilities Act. The ADA came along in 1990 with a much broader application and basically C opyright, accessibility, technology contracts, accreditationlegal con- siderations go hand-in-hand with dis- for accommodations, so that you have a consistent institutional response and a coordinator who ensures consistency extended coverage on a national basis, including not only public universities under Title II but private and inde- tance education in many places. across the array of online courses pendent colleges under Title III. The Deborah Brown, associate vice presi- while effectuating an appropriate indi- obligations vary somewhat depending dent for legal affairs and human vidualized review of each set of cir- on which section youre subject to. resources, and Ellen Podgor, associate cumstances. Again, that is in addition to whatever dean of faculty development and dis- In the process of course development state law might exist in a given state. tance education, at the Stetson Univer- and effectuation, you also want to But in general the obligations are sity College of Law, sat down with make sure that faculty who are creat- consistent, and its an obligation to Distance Education Report to sort out ing the courses and IT individuals who provide reasonable accommodations to the basic areas where the law touches are supporting the courses have been otherwise qualified individuals to allow on distance education. In addition, is trained in Web site accessibility and them to effectively participate in edu- the follow up on a few of the most the different options that are available cation. important implications in each of these to make courses accessible. This is People really need to check their major areas. particularly important if theyre going state to see if they have any additional to be reused, because it can be more requirements. Where you have multi- expensive to go back and retrofit a ple laws applying, the general rule is PART I course for closed captioning or some that whatever provides the greater pro- Accessibility other feature which could have been tection for the individual student is Distance Education Report: What designed in an accessible format [from controlling. are the basics that an administrator the start]. of distance education programs needs Ellen Podgor: This is not just a DER: You differentiate between tra- to know about accessibility? situation where you can say, OK, this is ditional requests for accommodation Deborah Brown: When you talk it. There may be some state regulations and technological requests. Help us about disability accommodation from that apply, there may be some adminis- understand that distinction. the standpoint of an administrator of trative regulations, and its also some- DB: A traditional request, as opposed programs, in order to meet your legal thing that may be in flux. Anytime to a technology request, is often some- obligations, there are certain things youre dealing with law, theres always thing like additional time on an assign- that you want to consider institution- the possibility that things can change, ment, which in the context of an ally to make sure that you have the so its important to keep in mind that online asynchronous course doesnt right processes in place. One is some this is a fluid situation. often seem to make a lot of sense. We kind of notice to your enrollees, your DB: Having said that, the important also have requests for things like note- students, and your applicants by which federal laws that administrators will takers, or readers. But having a note- you make it known that you are aware want to make sure they understand are taker when someone is 400 miles away of your obligation to reasonably the Rehabilitation Act and the Ameri- and there is no one with a proximate accommodate, and the process cans with Disabilities Act. Remember, physical presence, and in an asynchro- whereby people can seek those accom- too, that many states have accessibility nous environment where the student modations. You want people to know laws, but these would be the main potentially can view the lecture over that your institution internally has a federal laws. defined structure for handling requests PAGE 23 22 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

23 FROM PAGE 22 of disabilities, then you wouldnt be in perspectives between the academic and the circumstance of trying to redo the the legal side when it comes to tech- and over again, may not make much course at potentially great expense. nology contracts. What we try to high- sense. Youre more likely in an online We want it very clear at the begin- light is that faculty members often environment to have the technology ning that often theres not one easy think of technology in terms of func- requestslike large-font texts, presen- answer for all the questions. The tionalityI want the chat room, I want tations that appear on the computer, answers are often dependent on the to be able to X or Y, I want particular text-reading capacity for visually venue that you are in, because states features with respect to a technology impaired students who may not be may have different answers to ques- program because this is how I want my able to read the text on the screen, tions, youve got the federal system, class to look and feel. who may need something to read the different regulatory agencies, some of But when you think about it from the text for them. These types of things which may be within just one state. So legal perspective, with technology con- and the range of assistive technologies its not one-size-fits-all dealing with tracts youre really looking at a docu- that are out there are fairly comprehen- these kinds of issues. Its more impor- ment thats a set of rights and sive. tant to know what the questions are responsibilities. What do I get with this Also, you have potential accommo- and to ask legal counsel. technology, what do I have to do to be dation issues if you require individuals able to exercise my rights? Theres a to report to a central testing location in DER: Is there a proactive, central- range of issues that youre considering order to do proctored examinations, to ized model for dealing with legal from an institutional standpoint. You make sure you select test sites that are questions, rather than just reacting want to support faculty functionality, accessible to individuals with disabili- on a piecemeal basis? but its important that you dont allow ties. You should consider whether the DB: The model that we typically your long-term success to be compro- proctors have been suitably notified advocate is a faculty champion with mised by short-term decision-making. and trained so as to not end up with a the vision of what the institution wants You really have to look at the vendor to failure to accommodate. to accomplish with distance education. be sure that youre going with their That faculty person really needs to lead stability, their capacity to deliver year DER: It sounds like there is training a collaborative team that includes the after year, long-term pricing commit- and education needed for a number of various staff who are the key stake- ments, how well that technology fits different people and functions. holders to support that effort. That within your infrastructure. If I go down EP: Its important to educate the would be not only a group like IT, this path with this company today, if I people involved in the delivery of the which you would expect, but also legal dont like it or if it doesnt work out, program about the obligation to pro- counsel for the state regulatory issues. how painful will it be to the institution vide accommodation and the types of It would include an associate dean or to switch to another platform or to things they might expect. We think its whoever handles accreditation issues another issue of technology? important to have a central coordinator for the institution. It would include for the purpose of complying with the human resources for any faculty con- DER: What else is there to keep in ADA to assure appropriate responses to tracts or appointment letters, owner- mind about technology contracts? requests for accommodations, the ship of online materials, the library for DB: Id also be worried about busi- proper training on accessibility of Web purposes of resources, and student ness continuity. For example, technol- design, and other features. To inven- affairs and career development for the ogy contracts often provide that you tory capacity for existing and new tech- student services aspect. will get a designated server to house nology, to determine what the features As people who are schooled in the your distance education. Well, if I live are and how they can be used so that, law, we always know that dealing with in Florida and my school could be once again, youre not just sort of problems before they arise and trying destroyed by a hurricane, you know scrambling after the fact. to anticipate the problem always works what? I need to change my server site. You can find yourself in the situation to the benefit of everyone. I need to have the ability to do that of, OK, Ive got this great course and without packing up and heading to Im ready to launch it. And now all of Georgia, and my only hope for busi- a sudden I get all the accommodation PART II ness continuity is to broadcast my requests after all the recording has Technology classes through Georgia. I need to be been done. Whereas if you had all the DER: Another issue you discuss is able to do that under the technology technology available and you could technology contracts. What are the contract. have recorded it using technology that possible pitfalls? was easily adaptable for different kinds Deborah Brown: There are different PAGE 24 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 23

24 FROM PAGE 23 so many distance education courses in identification? How are you going to their entire law school career. And know that the students who are taking You also want to be clear about your there has to be a certain type of inter- your courses are really those students? affiliation relationship with the tech- action in these courses. If were going Thats a component of the best prac- nology; that is, the use of marks and to do a lot of distance learning, we tices document. Im not so sure that logos, either them wanting to use their have to have a distance learning plan. people are so focused on the copyright mark on your courses (your students The American Bar Association has issues. It really doesnt seem like a lot sign on to your course and they see the very, very explicit rules, and its going of attention has been focused on the name of a vendor in the lower left- to depend on the particular accredita- student support areas and the other hand corner), or them wanting to use tion body that youre dealing with as to areas that go into distance education. your mark or your logo in promotion what those rules might be. The signifi- There are a number of documents pub- and publicity of their product at other cance of it, obviously, is that when lished on that. The ADA has fairly schools. youre at an institution you have the stringent standards, but Id venture a things that keep you up at nightif guess that accreditors require at a mini- DER: Technology support is part of something bad happens here, Im in mum some form of notice, if not a contract too, isnt it? major trouble in terms of my institu- approval, if youre going to implement Ellen Podgor: The technology con- tion continuing. One of those is loss of a distance education curriculum. Make tract is sort of like any contractyou accreditation. So I think that adminis- sure that whoever does your accredita- have a lot of different things that you trators will tell you that they dont like tion work is following those standards look at, but at the end of the day the to do things that may jeopardize their and providing proper notices, so that three biggies are: what am I getting, accreditation. But a number of the when you have your accreditation how much does it cost, and how accrediting bodies have published spe- review you are in compliance. painful is it going to be to get out if it cific guidelines for distance education. Both of these are available online: all goes bad? And to a user the avail- Accrediting bodies in theory are Best Practices for Electronically Offered ability of support is very important, focused on program quality, and many Degree and Certificate Programs, a and how easy is it going to be to get of the accreditation standards and composite document published by the hold of these people who have supplies guidelines that have been published eight regional accrediting bodies, and for the product, and how easy is it are attempting to ensure that there is a the other one was published by the going to be to use the product itself? comparable level of quality for online Department of Education in March Key points to watch out for as you con- education and classroom delivery. 2006, called Evidence of Quality in Dis- sider it: whos going to support it, how When we did our presentation we tance Education Programs, drawn from quickly are they going to get there asked how many people had actually interviews with the accreditation com- when you need support? How easy is it read the best practices document pub- munity. going to be to get hold of them? Is it lished by the eight regional accrediting going to be something that has a func- bodies. Only about half raised their State regulation tion that I truly need for the particular hands. It did not seem like many were DER: Whats the basis for most project that Im doing? Is it going to familiar with the study published by state regulation? provide me with proper training? These the Department of Education in March DB: Historically, states have always are some of the things that I would of 2006, which was the document they had the ability to establish laws and look at. published on interviews with accredi- rules concerning education within their tors about what would be red flags own borders, and that makes sense Accreditation suggesting from an accreditation stand- because they want to protect their citi- DER: What should you keep an eye point that you may have issues in your zens from unscrupulous educators or out for in the accreditation process, distance education program. Because educational programs that lack quality. from a legal standpoint? its far broader than simply looking at Whats really evolved over time is EP: Its going to depend on who the the intellectual content. Its an entire that that entire model was based on a accrediting body is and what the rules package of everything that accreditors physical classroom and on the notion are. For example, were in the legal look at. of people who were operating within academic community and we have The institutional contact and com- the state. As online education has very, very strict rules on distance edu- mitment of the distance education pro- grown, that premise isnt necessarily cation. We can only do a certain num- gram, the curriculum and instruction, sound anymore, so what ends up hap- ber of hours. Students who are in their the student support. Evaluation and pening is that the vast majority of first year of law school may not do dis- assessment are a great example. Do tance ed courses. They can only take you have a process of firm student PAGE 25 24 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

25 FROM PAGE 24 states have crafted some variation of Trial by Fire: Online Teaching the physical presence test in order to determine if someone is engaging in Tips That Work enough educational activity to be sub- ject to the state regulatory scheme, and a variety of different factors might trig- ger a sufficient presence in a state. By Lori Norin, Ph.D., and Tim Wall But the important thing that people should get out of it is that if youre operating or thinking of operating within a particular state, you under- A few years ago, our university started accelerating its distance learning program. Along with courses mended dropping the Web-delivered speech course entirely. As a last resort, we attempted to stand what that states regulatory that televised lectures to area high restructure the course by creating a scheme is and whether or not youre schools, we began a fledgling online hybridhalf online and half on cam- going so far as to be subject to, say, the course program that used WebCT pus. Students were now required to Colorado Higher Education Commis- classroom teaching software. Some meet on campus with the professor sion. Some of the factors they look at professors designed courses that once a week. The results were amaz- are obvious: Do you have any employ- worked well, while others found that ing. Student feedback was much more ees in the state? Do you have a build- 100 percent Web delivery didnt work positive. One student even commented, ing? Do you have a post office box? Do well for them. Early in the program, I was really upset at first that I had to you have an in-state phone number? our speech department experimented come to class once a week, but now I Are you doing local targeted advertis- with a departmental online course, but really see the benefit. I think it helped ing as opposed to national advertising? it didnt work as well as we had me to get to have that contact with the If you have a large number of students hoped. classmates and the confidence to know in the state, are you facilitating in-state Initially, when the speech depart- I had that face-to-face opportunity with study groups or in-state instruction? ment was asked by the dean to put our the professor if I needed it. Its just an issue thats out there that basic course online, we resisted. In In addition to more positive student Im not sure a lot of people are really fact, our course was the last required feedback, student retention improved 8 aware of. general education course to go online. percent the first semester we switched We finally agreed to a Web-enhanced to the hybrid course, while posttest course. scores jumped an average of 20.5 per- It was a disaster: The professor was cent. There was also a clear decrease trying to master WebCT; the students in student and professor frustration. were trying to learn it. One student As one student said, This was an even commented, I signed up for excellent learning experience. When I speech class, not WebCT. More time needed any help or information, it was was spent learning the software than always readily available, and there learning the content. The number of were many sources for learning. times students had to come to campus Having found a delivery method that was modified over and over. Student seemed to work well, we began to look feedback was mostly negative. Stu- seriously at strategies, tips, and tech- dents complained about the irregular niques for using WebCT that would number of times they had to come simplify and enhance the teaching to campus and the organizational experience. We frequently discovered methods used (they wanted nothing we were overworking the course more than a list of assignments), and management system. Just because we they could never seem to master the could place a message, document, or locations of necessary functions, such link in three or four places didnt nec- as mail and discussion boards. Stu- essarily mean we should. There were dents were frustrated. Faculty were so many tools at our disposal that we frustrated. At the same time, adminis- were tempted to use them all. Frankly, tration wanted more Web courses. At one point the department recom- PAGE 26 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 25

26 FROM PAGE 25 Acceptance forms thats been there for several days. If an Professors commonly pass out course active assignment was due a couple of that just confused everyoneprofes- outlines and discuss class policies, and days ago, hide it and wait for the ques- sors and students. then ask students to sign a contract or tions about where it went: this is nag- Our next step, then, was to look for agreement saying that they will honor ging by hiding. ways to make the presentation less those policies. Heres an opportunity to busy, falling back on a lesson that all use the hybrid situation both to save Organizational methods teachers learn early on: sometimes less paper and to simplify record keeping. There are a variety of content organi- is more. At the same time, however, we Instead of handing out a syllabus on zational methods that can be used; didnt want to simplify so much that the first day, tell your class that its however, the week-by-week method we would exclude useful techniques. online and where they can find it. In allows you to use your calendar and Eventually, by trial and error, we addition, ask each student to submit learning modules together. You can learned the balance between too much an electronic acceptance form, which limit each learning module to a single and not enough. can be placed in his or her electronic weeks work and install links in your We also discovered that working in mailbox. Since the acceptance form is calendar. We found that students in the the electronic venue required that we the first correspondence of the semes- basic speech course responded espe- be constantly several steps ahead of ter, the form will automatically go to cially well to this organizational our students, who are often extremely the top of each students e-mail list for method, most likely due to the built-in computer savvy and quite likely to dis- easy retrieval. Neither paper nor filing time-management components. Stu- cover ways to plagiarize. Without is involved. dents were able to approach their pub- engaging in cynicism, we adapted the lic speaking preparation using a clearly Reagan philosophy of trust but verify Hidden elements delineated, step-by-step method. Also, by using readily available software A Web site can be confusing if it this practice tends to keep students such as student tracking and TurnItIn. publishes too much information in a where you want them to be in the In the process we also learned how single screen or if it presents too much course. to use feedback mechanisms to information in a short period. Weve enhance teaching. For instance, we dis- found that if we put too many items on Tracking tools covered that a threaded electronic dis- a screen, students tend to surf through In a classroom, how many times cussion on a subject like plagiarism them instead of working on the lesson have you heard this: I simply dont puts students on record as knowing at hand. Sometimes we want students get it? As a teacher, you wonder why, what it is. After that, the standard to read ahead, but sometimes we want and you ask the student to clarify. In a excuses for plagiarism pretty much them to concentrate on a single lesson. hybrid course, you can use the tracking went away. Similarly, a quick personal Thats where hidden elements come in. tool. We post our lecture notes on the e-mail is a handy way to find out what If youve designed all the lessons for course site and we track student read- a student knows or needs to know a semester and then put them on a ing. You can tell at a glance what a stu- about a subject. The professor can ask Web page, hide the ones that arent dent has read and how much time was the student to summarize a concept in active. That way the students cant spent. Lets say you discover that a stu- a return e-mail. Then the professor can smorgasbord through the course. dent has spent very little time going see, at a glance, the gaps in knowledge Hiding menu elements (on the left of over your materials (lectures, hand- and advise the student accordingly. the screen) also can be valuable. For outs, etc.). As a teacher whos been These are only a couple of effective instance, weve found that if students around a while, you suspect a similar ways judicious use of software can see the Discussion tool in the lack of effort in reading the text. enhances teaching without getting in menu, they tend to open it to see Instead of sending a tedious e-mail that the way. The trick, we found, was to whats there. Since each discussion tar- paraphrases what youve already pub- use the software without becoming gets a particular concept, try placing a lished, you can send a short e-mail that slaves to it. discussion link in that learning mod- asks the student to clarify. Along the line, weve discovered ule, with perhaps a backup link in the Heres an example: some techniques that work. If youre calendar. Now you can hide the discus- Please tell me which points are new to the online course experience, sion tool in the menu; students dont baffling to you. especially if youre considering a need it. Otherwise, students might If at that point the student isnt hybrid course, here are some tips you open the menu tool and start surfing, specific, heres a typical follow-up: might find helpful. resulting in questions about upcoming Please review the lecture notes and discussions. A reverse of that situation is the practice of hiding something PAGE 27 26 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

27 FROM PAGE 26 messages. If you have one message one What now? day and replace it with a new message This is a mere handful of tips, and it text and then send me an e-mail that another day, be sure to change the is by no means a complete list. As outlines your understanding of the color of the text block. Otherwise, classroom professors, we try new tricks major concepts that this assignment students might assume its the same regularly. Some we keep; some we covers. message and skim by it. lose. Dont be shy about using the By that time, the student usually gets same approach when youre teaching the drift. Tips for the online learner your hybrid Web class. If youre rela- A direct link on the home page that tively new to the Web-teaching envi- Discussion tool provides tips for new online learners ronment, take our list as typical Although youve already engaged the can eliminate initial confusion and pro- techniques you can try. If they dont class in a discussion, you can reinforce vide students with a clear understand- work for your students, discard them it on the bulletin board. After the class ing of what the online learning or modify them to fit your situation. discussion, you can require the students environment is all about. This type of WebCT has a lot of tools: use them to post their thoughts on the bulletin link could include such topics as Web your way, and dont feel you must use board. Then you can jump into the etiquette, where to go for help, think- all of them. Do what you do in class: forum and ask them to respond to other ing ideas through before responding, put yourself in the students place and postings. This practice engages students online learning is not for everyone, cre- see whether your presentation works; who arent very active in class but may ating a private and positive working stay loose and listen to the feedback. have valuable input. As a bonus, some- environment for studying, other helpful times the quiet students start participat- weblinks, etc. ing more in class discussions. Humor and frequent communication While we dont want to be in the Seeking Out and Speaking For stand-up comedy business, we can make it clear to students that were not New Learner Populations: The a robotic part of the machine with a square screen. Often a friendly or Key to Distance Ed Leadership encouraging e-mail that uses non- threatening language can make a stu- dent feel more a part of the class. An appropriate humorous comment allows By Christopher Hill students to view a professors lighter side, allowing for the interpersonal component that is difficult to transcend over the Web. Also, consider that peo- T he better administrators really do understand whats going on in the future learning populations, 1. Identifying learner populations This means having the ability to project what learner needs are going to ple check their computers sporadically says Janet Poley, president and CEO of be, where the problems are going to 24 hours a daydont miss the oppor- the American Distance Education Con- be, and what changes can be expected tunity that this around-the-clock access sortium, a nonprofit consortium com- in learner populations. Distance edu- allows. If you have a thought on the posed of 65 state universities and cation has always been about creating way home after a lecture, send it to the land-grant colleges. Shes talking about access, Poley says. As learners class. If you want to remind them to an empathetic ability to identify with change, institutions and programs must read a chapter, send an e-mail or pub- the various populations in need of dis- change to continue to afford access. lish a text block they cant miss. tance education, to see where they are As an example of the kind of now and where new ones will come changes and new learners shes talking Text blocks from. This is key to her ideas about about, she mentions veterans of the WebCT features the ability to publish what distance education leaders need war in Iraq. We have a tremendous headers and footers. You can certainly to do in order for programs to succeed. number of people whove been hurt, use this feature to design a page with a In a recent conversation, Poley talked whove been displaced from jobs, who standard banner such as the name of about the qualities, especially empathy are coming back having to change the course. In addition, you can use and identification, that she sees as vital the text block feature to publish urgent to distance education success. They are: PAGE 28 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 27

28 FROM PAGE 27 you going to create new modes of sis to develop the right grant proposal. access that can make a difference on a A lot of people have good grant careers, and were just at the beginning bigger stage? writers, and good writers can write of that. whatever good conceptualizers tell She mentions that distance learning 2. A learner orientation them. But if you dont have good con- has a track recordwith initiatives like When it comes to prioritizing and ceptualization, all the grant writers in eArmyUof helping military personnel organizing a program, always place the the world arent going to get you good receive an education while theyre learner in the center, Poley says. As grants. Everybody thinks their answers deployed. But Poley foresees a large long as things are structured to give are in the magic marketer, the magic influx of veterans who are going to maximum access to learners, youre on developer, the magic grant writer. And need distance education when they get sound footing. Then all the other ques- those people wont magically bring you out of the service. Thats one example tions about how you finance it, and the moneyit just doesnt work that of a learner need that hasnt yet come how you manage it, will find their way. completely to the surface but thats answers. Put the learner at the center Poley believes that communication going to impact distance education, in of the model and then you work all the skills in general are necessary for a my view, for the foreseeable future, systems around that. successful program. I think in the dis- she says. tance education area, its almost a Other examples can be found in 3. Sustainability given that you have to be able to com- Americas new immigrant populations. A vision for sustainability is almost municate well, you have to be able to Were we ready for them? Poley asks as important as a learner orientation. give a good speech, The ability to her fellow distance educators. The The goal is to organize, manage, and communicate your vision of the learner Mexico-based professional school Mon- finance a program that can sustain population is important. terrey Tech was ready, she says, and itself. To do this, you need to look past I think thats using the bully pulpit, has established some 60 learning cen- just getting one grant and running a being able to use your position to cre- ters for new immigrants around the program for a few years. (She mentions ate a vision for a positive future, being country. that grants that go away after a few able to speak for audiences that are Identifying and seeking to serve years are among the biggest problems invisibleto me thats about leading. emerging learning populations like for sustainability.) Youve got to be these are the most effective ways to get able to resource whatever youre new programs developed and funded. doing. You need regular streams of In Poleys view, the main task is to funding that support your work. learn how to see these learners, not let In the same way that a learner- them remain invisible to the educa- centric model ordered your priorities, a tional world. Help them articulate long-term resources strategy will tell their needs for learning, she says. Its you about what things you can bring in about access for people who need from other sources, who your natural learning, and being able to understand partners are, what grants you can go and then work with those populations. after, and so on. Its not always about the poor and You need to know what your disenfranchised, either. She mentions resources are in relation to what the aging population of America, baby you need, be it money, people, or boomers in retirement who want to technology. pursue lifelong learning. Working on a long-term resourcing Poley warns against over-reliance on plan is one of the most difficult tasks technology in meeting these various distance education administrators face. sets of needs. Bandwidth is great and A successful administrator-leader we love it, but that might not be the needs to be good at working with the answer to all these kinds of issues by people who can supply the resources. any means. The leaders credibility has to be high. So, in Poleys view, the first question to ask is, What populations are you 4. Communications trying to serve? Are you, as an admin- Your grant writing needs to match istrator, just going to concentrate on your vision, Poley says. Often it running a profitable program, or are requires a lot of integration and synthe- 28 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

29 twice the rate of traditional students. Reducing the Risk: Effects of a (Both statistics are from The Condition of Education, 2002). First-Year Experience Course for To address this nontraditional stu- dent vulnerability, Brown wrote a first- Nontraditional Students year experience course targeted at this specific population. The course is taught primarily by the centers aca- demic advisors, giving them an additional hour each week with their By Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti students. The primary goals of the course include development of aca- demic and career goals; familiarity I t comes as no surprise to those who work with distance learning popula- tions to hear that these students typi- would help her universitys nontradi- tional students overcome some of the barriers to success. Her research points with university resources; the students recognition of responsibility for his or her own education; recognition of cally deal with different challenges to the utility of a first-year experience diversity of backgrounds and view- than their traditional-aged, on-campus program tailored to the needs of this points among other students; familiar- peers. According to the most recent particular student population. ity with the university environment; National Survey of Student Engage- and exploration of each students ment, distance education students Reading the Literature, interest and abilities. typically are older, work many hours a Constructing the Course The course reflects the unique needs week, and often support families. How- Browns work began in 2002, when and challenges of nontraditional stu- ever, this very profile can place these she raised close to $1 million for the dents as they interact with the univer- students at risk for not continuing their university to open the McCarl Nontra- sity, in keeping with the flexibility of studies or not being successful. ditional Student Success Center. The the first-year experience approach. The typical first-line remedy to aid center is staffed with academic advi- Brown notes that among the 18 col- student success has been a first-year sors, career counselors, and other leges at the University of Pittsburgh, experience program. This type of pro- professionals dedicated to helping each one does first-year experience gram, which often includes some sort nontraditional students stay in school differently. In the case of the nontradi- of University 101 course tailored to successfully. tional student, the differences include assisting students in their pursuit of Right away, she noticed a problem teaching how to access university success, have a well-established track that academic advisors across institu- resources when certain offices are not record of boosting the persistence and tional boundaries will find familiar: a physically open to students who are academic standing of the students who lack of time to spend with students only available on weekends or enroll. Since the creation of the first who need it most. Advisors in our evenings. The course also addresses such program in 1972 at the University field have much higher case loads, more traditional learning skills for suc- of South Carolina, continual evaluation she said, explaining that it is not cess, such as memorizing, note-taking, has shown the worth of these pro- unusual for an advisor to have a single and critical reading. grams in increasing retention and hour each semester with each student, During the first semester, academic improving academic performance. regardless of how difficult the student advisors identified 55 students consid- Their original target, traditional-aged finds the college experience. It is so ered to be at-risk and asked them to on-campus students, has clearly been hard to explain to people how hard take the first-year experience course. well served. However, comparable it is to be a nontraditional student, These students were selected on the studies have not been done to examine she says. basis of GED scores, lack of previous the utility of these programs for nontra- Brown was also concerned by statis- college experience, community college ditional students, a population that tics that were available in the litera- QPA average below 2.5, or evidence of often closely overlaps the distance edu- ture, such as the estimate that some 50 attrition at more than two colleges. Of cation student population. percent of nontraditional/adult stu- those invited into the course, 32 Seeing a gap in the literature, Sherry dents will leave college without earn- accepted and 23 declined. Miller Brown, director of the McCarl ing a degree, compared to 12 percent of Although Brown acknowledges that a Nontraditional Student Success Center traditional-aged students. Additionally, bias may have come from self-selection at the University of Pittsburgh, set out 27 percent of nontraditional students to learn if a first-year experience class will drop out in their first year, nearly PAGE 30 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 29

30 FROM PAGE 29 commonly available. It is really important continue to find ways for these stu- to have discussion boards so you can talk dents to remain in contact with the into the course, she believes the dra- back and forth. Personalize it as much as staff when needed and receive prompt matic difference in success between possible, she says. responses to requests for assistance. those who took the course and those She expresses concern that distance You have to provide outreach to your who did not speaks for itself. After education programs may neglect to students. Find ways to connect to completing three semesters, an impres- focus adequately on student services them, not just a link or a Web page, sive 88 percent of the experimental and student development for this popu- she says. group were still enrolled, versus only lation, and she urges administrators to 26 percent of the control group who did not take the course. Equally impressive were the QPA scores for the two groups. After three semesters, the mean term QPA for the Avoiding the Mosquito Effect: experimental group was 2.69, a full point above the 1.96 mean for the con- Keys to Improving Support for trol group. At the same time, some 76 percent of the experimental group had a QPA above 2.00 for the fall 2005 Your Distance Education term, compared with 33 percent of the control group. Students Hints for distance education Although initial research clearly By Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti indicates that the first-year experience course for nontraditional students is a success, Brown plans to continue mon- itoring the program through other research activities. For example, she Y our distance learning program is thriving, you have more successful courses than ever before, and your stu- online course program, it did not lack creativity. Faculty plunged into the world of online teaching, creating says, this fall well look at different dents and faculty are enthusiastic courses with interfaces that matched populations of students, [such as] stu- about the opportunity to teach and their own personalities. For example, dents who transfer from community study online. There is just one prob- all the courses looked different: there colleges. She already knows from the lem: Every semester, questions and were icons moving and shaking; some data that students who transfer to the requests for support arrive in swarms. were in color and some black and university from community college As you spend your time answering the white, Stidom says. often see a dramatic drop in their QPA same question multiple times, you feel While the courses were clearly cre- average for the first couple of terms. you are being slowly nibbled at until ative, the variety of interfaces brought Usually by graduation they will be there is nothing left. its challenge. Some were visually close to where they entered, she says. Deidre Stidom, online course man- attractive but not ADA-compliant. Fur- However, that drop before rebounding ager and faculty trainer for Piedmont ther, students would spend the first is when these students are in the Technical College in Greenwood, S.C., several weeks of the term getting biggest danger of dropping out. knows the feeling well. Multiple accustomed to the interface and navi- Brown believes the first-year experi- requests for support can take their toll, gation of the course, only to have to ence program could be adapted to and your students can become an learn another course or more from foster success and retention in the dis- uncontrollable help-sucking desperate scratch the next term. Finally, with 134 tance education population, and she swarm, she says. That is why Pied- online course titles, it was difficult to has some advice for those attempting mont has devised a number of strate- support multiple course structures. to construct an all-distance version. gies to control this mosquito effect at So, it was time to standardize. We In order to have a successful program, her campus and beyond. created a WebCT shell with a consistent find a way to do real outreach, she course design, Stidom says. This per- says. She emphasizes how important it Mosquito Repellant #1: mitted students to learn the interface is for these students to have continual, Standardize the Course and the course navigation once, then personal attention from the university, Template and the tools to assist with this are When Piedmont first started its PAGE 31 30 Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com

31 FROM PAGE 30 One benefit of the course is that it WebCT component, multiplying the helps round out a students schedule; number of possible requests for support. apply their skills to future online It is helpful in summer when students Users requiring support can log on courses. It also opened the door to need 10 credit hours for Pell Grants, and search a knowledge base to see if group orientation and support activities. says Stidom, noting that the extra the answer to their question is avail- credit will complete a schedule with able. If it is not, they can generate a Mosquito Repellant #2: Consider three three-credit courses. But the real help desk ticket that is then routed for a Live Orientation Course benefit is the in-depth experience with attention. Just because students elect to study all facets of an online course. The online help desk ticket goes online does not mean they do not visit The course is designed to allow stu- immediately to a pool, which the office campus. Many of Piedmonts students dents to experience every possible quiz administrator directs to the appropriate can visit the campus, and for them, the type that they may encounter in an person each day. Each ticket has a college designed a live orientation online course as well as every type of tracking number, so that students can course designed to help even students assignment that the system supports. refer to their question. When the ticket with little or no computer skills learn There is also the opportunity to experi- reaches the appropriate person, that to successfully navigate and complete ence library work such as they might person can e-mail the student with the an online course. encounter online. The course even cov- answer and then use the completed We took one course and rolled it ers basic computer topics such as how question and answer to add another bit into a shell, says Stidom, explaining to use a word processing program and of information to the knowledge base, that students are then invited to come save files in rich text format so they are hopefully helping a future student find to a campus computer lab for a 90- readable by most other word process- help more quickly. minute orientation. Within the model ing programs. After that, they can roll For those students who are less com- course, Stidom can show the students into a fully online course, Stidom puter savvy, a telephone help desk is how to navigate the course, find rele- says. available even on weekends to answer vant documents, and even send an The four-week course also empha- questions and talk them through the e-mail message with an attachment. sizes the behaviors students will need online creation of a help desk ticket. When they leave, most feel confident in order to be successful. For example, This kind of personal touch is often about their ability to hit the ground students learn about habits in the what is needed for some students to running in an online course. online world that are analogous to feel confident that their support However, some students expressed a ones in the traditional classroom. Just requests have been heard. desire to have the material from the as it is important to contribute to By tracking student support ques- orientation course available for review discussions in class, it is equally tions as they make their way through and further tutorial. To this end, Pied- important to post discussion comments the system and toward resolution, staff mont is in the process of filming the online when they are desired as part of can easily update students about the live orientation course. The trainer the class. And, while discussions tend status of their requests, alerting them, pauses between each section so that to stay online for later review (unlike for example, if there is a delay in find- the video can be divided into topic- an in-person discussion, which cannot ing the correct information. As long as specific segments. The college will be recapped or relived), it is just as a person knows they are at the top of then put this material online, where important to log in to an online course your list, their anxiety is cut in half, students can access it throughout the regularly as it is to have good atten- say Stidom. It may even help turn that semester and watch needed topics dance in the traditional classroom. buzzing swarm of mosquitoes back again and again. into individuals who are a pleasure to Mosquito Repellant #4: work with. Mosquito Repellant #3: Never Use Help Desk Tickets to Track Leave Them Wanting More Service and Create a Knowledge (Orientation, That Is) Base Even with the live orientation course To provide support for students and and the ability to access training mate- faculty in the nearly 12 dozen online rials later, some students still felt that classes at Piedmont, the college has a they were not properly equipped to two-person department. To help track succeed in Piedmonts online courses. and better deal with support requests, So, to satisfy this need, the college the department relies on the power of created a one-credit course called the Internet. This is increasingly impor- Introduction to Online Learning. tant now, as all Piedmont courses have a Tips for Creating a Distance Learning Program www.FacultyFocus.com 31

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