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by Kristen Betts
Faculty members play a central role in the development, implementation, and long-term sustainability of online and blended education programs. Therefore, faculty recruitment and retention strategies for these programs must align with the needs of the faculty. This article highlights the results of an institutional study conducted at a public comprehensive university in 2012 that examined factors influencing faculty participation and retention in online and blended education. This article also provides a comparative overview of the results of a similar institutional study conducted at The George Washington University (GWU) in 1997 that examined factors influencing faculty participation in distance education. The original surveys from the 1997 GWU study were updated for the 2012 Armstrong study. The results revealed that while technology and learning platforms have continued to evolve over the past 15 years, many of the needs and concerns of faculty are relatively similar. The results also revealed that faculty involvement is quintessential in the development and expansion of online and blended programs as well as in the design of faculty development initiatives.
Comparing Enrollment and Persistence Rates in Hybrid and Traditional Post-Secondary French
by Carolyn Gascoigne Juliette Parnell
Persistence rates in foreign language study have been historically disappointing. This also tends to be the case for many hybrid and online courses, especially when contrasted with comparable face-to-face courses. Therefore, when transitioning foreign language coursework to online and hybrid formats, increased persistence rates and a large number of resulting majors should not be expected. Following a review of the literature on both foreign language and hybrid/online persistence respectively, the following study compares persistence rates from concurrently taught traditional and hybrid offerings in post-secondary French across three years. An interpretation of the resulting trends is offered, along with suggestions for additional research.
A Composite Theoretical Model Showing Potential Hidden Costs of Online Distance Education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: With Implications for Building Cost-Resistant Courses and Programs
by Andrew Arroyo
Growing numbers of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are entering the arena of online distance education. Some are seeking to grow large-scale programs that can compete for market share with historically White institutions and for-profit schools. This theoretical essay develops a composite model to assist HBCU administrators in their planning and implementation of e-learning ventures. The model addresses two existential questions: What potential costs to their core distinctiveness might America's HBCUs face if they pursue online distance education initiatives, especially if their ultimate goal is to imitate the large-scale digital presence of competing non-HBCUs? How might these potential costs impact the Black American students that HBCUs typically recruit and enroll? This essay concludes with implications for how decision makers can build cost-resistant online distance education courses and programs. It is hoped that this original conceptual work will contribute to innovations of research and practice in this new field.
Implementation of a Quality Assurance Review System for the Scalable Development of Online Courses
by Devrim Ozdemir Rich Loose
With the growing demand for quality online education in the US, developing quality online courses and online programs, and more importantly maintaining this quality, have been an inevitable concern for higher education institutes. Current literature on quality assurance in online education mostly focuses on the development of review models and frameworks as well as the development of review rubrics. The development of comprehensive models in addition to the valid and reliable quality assurance review rubrics is very important for the development of quality online courses and programs. However, it is also important to maintain this quality once the quality is attained. Factors such as increasing number of online courses, dynamic faculty body delivering these courses, and disruptive innovations in online education continue to make the ongoing maintenance of the quality of online education particularly challenging. This article presents the development and implementation processes of an electronic quality assurance review system for the scalable development of online courses in a regional university in the Midwest US. In particular, we will introduce the context of online course development in the university, present the reasons for developing such a system, outline the framework of the system, and present the implementation process of the system. Finally, we will discuss the future recommendations for our existing system. Our goal is to present our case as a guide to those higher education institutes which are responding to growing demand in quality online education.
The Effects of Online Teaching Experience and Institution Type on Faculty Perceptions of Teaching Online
by Deborah Windes Faye Lesht
In light of the recent growth of online education and its disruptive impact on higher education, this study compared faculty attitudes toward teaching online across institution type, including community colleges and four-year public and private institutions, as well as across faculty with and without online teaching experience. While the data reflected similarities across groups, there were also striking differences which included the following: experienced online community college faculty indicated more so than those at four-year public/private institutions that online education was inferior to face-to-face instruction; intellectual property was reported as more important to those who had not taught online than to those who have online teaching experience across all settings; and community college faculty reported more negative attitudes toward online education over the past five years than did those at other types of institutions in the study. At the same time, faculty members who responded to this study were influenced to engage, or consider engaging, in online teaching in order to meet students' needs, reach new students not previously served by the institution, discover ways to enhance and strengthen teaching through new technologies, and increase the flexibility of their schedules. It appears there are different perceptions and motivating factors across institutional types for teaching online, which may influence institutional strategies.
Shifting from Obligatory Discourse to Rich Dialogue: Promoting Student Interaction in Asynchronous Threaded Discussion Postings
Mara Mooney, Sheryne Southard, Christie Burton
by Mara Mooney Sheryne Southard
Asynchronous online threaded discussions are widely recognized as a tool to enhance learning in the virtual classroom. While they can serve as a mechanism for reinforcing material and promoting a deeper understanding of course content, discussion boards often lack rich and dynamic dialogue, and instead serve as a field of obligatory discourse, hasty postings, and repetitive content. This study examines measures to promote meaningful interaction in threaded online discussion postings. The researchers created an innovative, activity-based discussion exercise, known as the "suspense model," that was utilized in two undergraduate hybrid online courses to promote student-centered learning and to increase the quality and quantity of student engagement. The researchers conducted a second discussion board activity in the same classes whereby students were provided with the problem and supporting material at the outset of the exercise. Qualitative methods were employed to measure the quality of student performance on the exercises to compare levels of interactivity. Results indicate that students more promptly and thoroughly engaged in the discussion board utilizing the suspense model, and students' perception of the exercise was tentatively favorable as compared to its conventional counterpart.
From the Editor
All the Tulip trees and Bradford pear trees are nearly in full bloom today here just west of Atlanta, promising the hopeful end of a dreadfully cold winter. We are busy preparing for our June DLA conference in Jekyll Island, and starting to finalize another super - cool program. What strikes me in our program. (and in this edition), is that MOOCs seem to have left the stage. Instead, there's a renewed emphasis on refined models that contain costs and increase quality. Though MOOCs may not have lived up to the hype, they have been critically important in prompting game-changing questions about affordability and accessibility. In fact, just their presence has resulted in an unprecedented pace of experimentation and change in the last several months alone. So, it seems that the only thing that is certain is that it's nearly impossible to predict how much our frameworks for distance learning administration may have changed before the next snowfall in Georgia.
Peace to all,
Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
March 14, 2014
A special thanks to Thinking Cap for being the premiere sponsor of DLA2013!