Leveraging the Investment in Online Education: A Workshop for Campus Leaders

Blogging the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Presenters: Mary Niemic, Dylan Barth, and Laura Pedrick

Interesting Notes

[Photo credit: LendingMemo.com]
New term: Nanodegrees. In the context of the different types of online learning – MOOCs, self-paced, competency based, credit, certificates, degrees, modules, etc.

Report: Online College Students 2014 (from LearningHouse). Reputation, price, credit transferability, and job credibility are important to students. Within 8 weeks of application, students want to be able to start their degree.

Support for Learning: The idea of integrating offices for learning technologies and professional development to one unit that supports all good teaching – online, blended, on campus. Active learning, blended learning, educational technologies, etc.

Resource: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; UW Milwaukee is building a national database of research on online learning; with grants for others to participate in the research.

University of Nebraska High School – has existed since 1929 (kind of like Andrews University‘s Griggs International Academy that started in 1909). Only 11% of the enrollment in this HS are in Nebraska.

Critical success factors: mission and goals; goals aligned to specific metrics; sustainable resource management strategy, administrative structure, policies, systems, effective communication, comprehensive evaluation plan that drives future efforts.

Favorite quote: It’s not the flashiest thing that determines quality, it’s the thing that helps students learn the best; and the method of allowing for faculty presence.

Interesting Discussions

  • Choices
    Photo Credit: Akuppa John Wigham

    Enrollment Data. Do you count online learning in the fall with a census date, or do you count the full year? How to discuss counting with the rest of campus that is counting in the fall where it makes sense. But online students and coming and going all year long.

  • Honors. Who has honors options for online students? Most everyone in the room doesn’t – discussion of how all students have the right to access to honors programs; but there may be significant resistance on campus to offering honors options online.
  • Educational models that are changing – flipped, blended, competency, self-paced, shrinking semesters, synchronous or asynchronous. What are the benefits and challenges for each and which to choose for the degree? How to work with faculty who start with the idea that we just need to stream what is happening in the classroom? The online student doesn’t want the class on Tuesday at 2:30 pm; but how to assist faculty to realize students want to time-shift, and that is why they have chosen online learning. There isn’t really a huge market for synchronous learning.
  • Misunderstandings about what teaching is; what online learning is. The idea of “shrink-wrapping” a course by recording it and sending it to the student, with no other teaching included. A faculty member who wanted to be recorded so that when he died, his course could still be taught and his family could get the income. Misunderstandings about where the “teaching” happens in online learning, or even in f2f classes.
  • Revenue. Planning to do online learning just for the revenue tends to fail. Funding models: 5% of tuition to the central support of distance. Or 10% of the distance fees. Seed funding for new programs; and tuition/fee distribution to encourage continuity of offerings. Centralized vs decentralized, and how the funding models follow that. What the costs are for U Nebraska.
  • Traditional students. Traditional students who take online courses have a faster time to complete their degree; they are taking online courses to supplement during clinicals and practicums. Traditional students are interested in supplementing their on campus experience with online. Resources created to support online students can end up supporting the on campus as well – i.e. one stop shopping for all your university needs and records, etc. Lots of swirling among institutions and even between online and on campus enrollment.
  • Change. Supporting online learning can create additional capacity in the university for change. Course redesign, support services adjustments, all have benefits for the university as a whole for dealing with change and becoming more flexible.
  • Systems. For universities part of a system, do you have competing programs? or not? Using funding and marketing as carrot/stick to keep universities in the same system from offering competing programs. Using market research to determine what the students are interested in? Restricting online competition vs. allowing competition within the system face to face. System thinking – you aren’t stealing each other’s students, the community colleges are stealing your students.
  • Summer. High demand courses, high interest, finish in four, online courses for the summer.
  • Market saturation. The market is getting saturated for online learning – and it’s important to think about the market and what is already out there. The MBA is the most saturated online degree.
  • Definitions. What is blended? what about percentages? Recommendation to review UWM’s definition.
  • MOOCs. What are they good for? Brand recognition, fodder for research projects, service to the global community.

Interesting Companies and Resources

  • NetTutor for outsourcing or supplementing tutoring
  • LTI intergrations – there may be legal issues depending on the student data you are sending to the LTI integration sites
  • OER resources – contributing, using, participating
  • MapWorks – early intervention and student success
  • U of Texas Productivity Dashboard – how are students of various degrees doing after they graduate? what are the trends for employment?
  • LibGuides – libraries using a libguide to support the learning, courses, and programs
  • Toggl – a tool for time tracking to work on faculty work load issues

Good Ideas to Apply

  • Online orientations; including for on campus students who missed the on campus orientation
  • A short certificate for online and blended teaching, and then create a community of those participating. The course is evaluated the first time it’s taught online or blended, and then the faculty member receives a certificate.
  • Accountability metrics: target demographics, capacity , growth, graduate job placement, not too many metrics. Consistent follow through on reporting the metrics. Need to think more about our metrics & goals in the various areas. Is it possible to do across the university or only by program and degree? Use this to manage expectations – have a metric that is challenging and achievable.
  • Have a librarian dedicated to OER
  • Have a librarian dedicated to distance education
  • Have a librarian create a LibGuide for each online course (or maybe program)
  • Create a guide for department chairs on developing an Online or Blended program
  • Online Program Council – or peer groups for program-level peer-to-peer best practice sharing
  • Evaluation plan: course surveys, designing surveys at the course level, evaluation of support systems, data consistency across programs, continuous assessment; system/campus wide, monitoring what you have built

Final advice

  • Keep the principles forefront – why are we doing it? it’s really about the students – access and flexibility – we are trying to do what is in the best interest of the students

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