Twelve Strategies to Promote Online Growth While Ensuring Quality

Blogging the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Presenters: Brian Udermann (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, USA)Cristi Ford (University of the District of Columbia, USA)

Juggling concept: the more things you add for your online learning program, the more likely is that a ball will drop. It’s ok. Pick it up and keep moving forward.

Interesting Notes

  • 25 % of faculty think their institution are pushing online education too much (not the 85% we might think).
  • At the beginning they asked everyone to stand up, and then sit down if you don’t have this in place: one person who oversees online education; have an online advisory board; have an instructional designer; have policies and procedures.

Strategies and Audience Ideas

  1. Have one person who oversees online education for your campus. Don’t add it to someone else’s load as an add on to their other responsibilities. Include things like proctoring, policies, tutoring online, student services, support services – available for ALL online programs.
  2. Have an Online Advisory Board. Should include Faculty, students, administrators, business services, program directors, instructional designers, student support services.
  3. Offer high quality faculty development opportunities. Ideas include: Online learning competency assessment (for people who say they’ve taught online); Online learning academy (6 weeks in the summer for 3 days a week – for those who are totally new); OLC workshops; during the school year accelerated online learning academy; elearning scholars institute – OLC workshops for faculty who want to dabble in online learning. And then after they take the workshop, they teach it to other faculty at a brown bag lunch. Weekly sessions. Use tips and tools to get them in the door, and then teach them something about pedagogy.
  4. Create faculty buy-in. Consider what motivates and demotivates faculty. Student need is a very high motivator. A national credential for training. Something that recognizes faculty at graduation – like a stole to wear. Competencies are important.
  5. Hire an instructional designer. Best way to increase the quality of online learning at your institution. Create an online education factbook for your institution. Impact of online courses on the graduation rate. Impact of instructional designer on retention rate. Partner your ID with your “grumpy guy” to sell resistance faculty on online learning. Two models: they are a consultant and training or are they actually building and designing the course? Interesting thought: the ID on the higher ed side is similar to a media specialist on the K12 side. 
  6. Create a policies and procedures manual or handbook for online education. i.e. what are the policies: do we pay more for online courses? can I start my online course a week early? when do I give the final exam in my online course? can I teach my course through my personal blog? student evaluations of instructors, i.e. enrollment in online shouldn’t exceed face to face, dropping online courses, workload, response time, policy for changing instructors in the middle of the term, credit hour. Example of the online handbook at UWLAX. You might need a document with policies and a document with best practices. University approved policies, faculty expectations, best practices etc.
  7. Have a course review process in place. Examples: Quality Matters, Penn State Quality Standards, Lone Star College, Community of Inquiry, Quality Assurance Model Florida State.
  8. Provide financial support for training and course / program development. Give certificates, buy stoles, give incentives.
  9. Ensure high quality student support services for online learners. Library, student ID, assessment, communication, student communities, personal services, etc.
  10. Create a strategic road map for your institution. For example, who is responsible for these different issues and getting them done. How will you get there. Think logistically about what it takes.
  11. Collect and use data. Number of online courses, gen ed online courses, students taking online courses, graduation rate in six years if they took online course. Tell faculty about it – those who teach online, those who don’t. Share share.
  12. Dare to be different.

Things To Work On

  • An online program policies and procedures manual. This is ours and this is Brian’s. Improvements could be made on ours!
  • Have a workshop on ways to reduce cheating (same level of cheating for online and f2f)
  • Build more faculty training options
  • Intellectual property clarity. For example one option might be: university has a non-exclusive in perpetuity license for the content; and if the university funds creation of media, the university owns that media.

Bonus: Brian is an excellent example of how to interject humor into your teaching.

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