Summer 2020 - Volume 23 Issue 2


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The Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration is a peer-reviewed electronic journal offered free each quarter over the World Wide Web. The journal welcomes manuscripts based on original work of practitioners and researchers with specific focus or implications for the management of distance education programs. Click here to access our readership stats.
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Thanks to the
University of West Georgia
for providing this webspace

Editorial Board

Dr. Melanie Clay
University of West Georgia

Managing Editor
Ms. Kendall Dickey
University of West Georgia

Associate Editor
Ms. Julie Stone Ingle
University of West Georgia

Editorial Board
Dr. Mac Adkins
Troy University


Christopher L. A. Ahlstrom
Towson University

David Babb
University of North Georgia

Dr. R.-L. Etienne Barnett University of Atlanta (US) Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)

Mr. R. Thomas Berner
Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Kris Biesinger
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Dr. Beverly L. Bower
University of North Texas

Ms. Diane M. Burnette
University of Georgia

Erik Burns
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. W. Dean Care
Brandon University

Dr. Jason G. Caudill
King University

Yong Chen
Old Dominion University

Mr. Matthew N. Clay
University of West Georgia

Dr. Sherry A. Clouser
University of Georgia

Bradly Corlett

Dr. Ken Corley
Appalachian State University

Dr. Jeanne Catanzaro
Washburn University

Dr. Micheal Crafton
University of West Georgia

Dr. Muhammet Demirbilek
Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey

Dr. Robert N. Diotalevi
Florida Gulf Coast University

Ms. Beth Evans
College Library of the City University of New York

Dr. Catherine L. Finnegan Advanced Learning Technologies,
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Jan Flegle
American Public University System

Dr. Larry V. Flegle
American Military University

Dr. Cher C. Hendricks
University of Idaho

Dr. Katy Herbold
Southern Utah University

Mrs. Laurie G. Hillstock
Virginia Tech

Dr. Cathy Hochanadel
Purdue University Global

Dr. Genell Hooper Harris
Centenary College of Louisiana

Dr. Scott L. Howell
Brigham Young University

Dr. Jason B. Huett
University of West Georgia

Dr. Thomas J. Hynes
Clayton State University

Dr. Sallie J. Johnson
USAF Air University, Air Command and Staff College

Dr. Harold J. Kearsley
Norwich University

Dr. John J. Ketterer
Jacksonville State University

Dr. James W. King
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

James Kinneer
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Irene Kokkala
University of North Georgia

Olabisi Kuboni (retired)
The University of West Indies


Dr. Sarah Kuck

Albany State University

Dr. Sally Kuhlenschmidt
Western Kentucky University

Ms. Elizabeth D. Larzelere M.S.
New York Chiropractic College

Melissa Layne
American Public University System

Dr. Andrew Leavitt
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


Dr. Lauryl A. Lefebvre

University of Phoenix

Ms. Nancy Lee
University of Nevada

Dr. Elke M. Leeds
Western Governors University


Dr. Amanda E. Major
University of Central Florida

Christopher Mathews-Smith M.A.
Emory University

Dr. Jennifer McLean
Pennsylvania College of Technology

COL Philip A. McNair (USA, ret.)
American Public University System

Dr. Marc D. Miller
Henderson State University

Dr. Nancy Griffin Mims, Ed.D.
University of West Georgia

Dr. Mary Jo Muratore
University of Missouri - Columbia

Anna Obedkova
University of Texas of Arlington

Dr. Abbot L. Packard
University of West Georgia

Dr. Angie Parker
Northcentral University


Dr. Anthony Piña
Sullivan University

Dr. Shawn M. Quilter
Eastern Michigan University

Dr. Ravic P. Ringlaben
University of West Georgia

Dr. Michael Rogers
University of North Georgia


Dr. Beth Rene Roepnack
University of West Georgia, USG eCampus Senior Academic Instructional Support Specialist

Dr. Peter J. Shapiro
Florida State College at Jacksonville

Melanie Shaw
North central University


Angela Solic
Rush University

Dr. LeAnn McKinzie Thomason
Brownsville, Texas

Mitzi P. Trahan, Ph.D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Thomas J. Tobin
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Joann Kroll Wheeler
Texas A & M University

Past OJDLA Editors
Dr. Stephen J. Anspacher
The New School

Dr. Michael Beaudoin
University of New England

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett
University of West Georgia

Janet Gubbins
University of West Georgia

Ms. Tammy Hamm-Ronsisvalle
Synergy Plus Inc.

Rayma Harchar, Ed. D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Nataliya V. Ivankova
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Kathleen A. Kraus
State University of New York at New Paltz

Dr. Dwight Laws
Brigham Young University

Dr. George E. Marsh II
The University of Alabama


Dr. Barbara K. McKenzie
University of West Georgia

Dr. Paul F. Merrill
Brigham Young University

Mr. Bob Reese
Reese Consulting Associates, Inc.

Dr. M. D. Roblyer
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Mr. Timothy W. Seid
Earlham School of Religion

Dr. Barbara L. Watkins
University of Kansas

Current Issue

The Administration of Online Programs in Statewide Systems: A Case Study of The University System of New Hampshire

Chris L. LaBelle
Patrick R. Lowenthal
Kerry Rice

by Chris L. LaBelle
Patrick R. Lowenthal
Kerry Rice

As enrollments in postsecondary online programs have grown, many institutions have pursued a more centralized business model that consolidates their online programming under a single executive leader, a statewide system office, or a coalition of institutions that have merged operations and assets. In this study, the researchers used an exploratory case study design--using both surveys and interviews--to investigate how online programs are administered at four institutions in the University System of New Hampshire (USNH). Several findings emerged from the data. First, participants struggled finding a common vocabulary when talking about online programs and the potential benefits of system-level collaboration; second, administrators frequently prioritized their local program tasks over system-wide collaboration; and third, although there was not a strategic plan in place to help institutions collaborate, participants agreed that such a plan would be valuable.

The Effect of New Student Orientations on the Retention of Online Students

Amy Stoebe
Robin Grebing

by Amy Stoebe &
Robin Grebing

While there is a lack consensus as to whether orientations for online students should be completed on campus or online, research suggests that having an in-depth orientation and onboarding process increases the academic preparedness of online students and, consequently, improves retention. This action research study attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of an in-depth, virtual, student orientation on the retention and academic preparedness of online students at a small, private college. There was an increase of 7% in the retention rate from the fall to spring in the year the institution implemented the online orientation. Additionally, the results indicate students felt more academically prepared, a finding also supported by the results of a faculty survey. While the number in the sample was small, the results are promising and signal a need for additional research on the link between a formal orientation, retention, and academic preparedness for online students.

Creating Better Definitions of Distance Education

Jason Paul Johnston

by Jason Paul Johnston

Distance education across all levels of education is growing at a rapid rate. As institutions and governments attempt to guide distance education, working definitions and their meanings conflict. Perhaps this is in part because administrators and practitioners are working from definitions that are decades-old. This paper suggests new definitions are needed to help guide and understand distance education for today. First, the current state of distance education will be highlighted, then distance education will be defined historically, then these definitions will be used to bring understanding to a current online university Title IV case. Finally, this paper offers three potential definitions for distance education: “Virtual Network Education,” “Cloned Content Education,” and “Remote Classroom Education.”

The Impact of Employment and University Connectedness on the Academic Success of College Students Taking Varying Numbers of Online Courses

Steffen Wilson
Jonathan Gore
Brianna Williamson

by Steffen Wilson
Jonathan Gore
Brianna Williamson

This paper reports two related studies on the role of student work, university connectedness, and taking online courses on college student academic success.  In study 1, it was found that differences in GPA between students taking varying numbers of courses online is predicted by the number of hours students are working and not course format.  It was also found that higher levels of university connectedness predicted higher GPAs in all students.  In study 2, it was found that higher levels of university connectedness predicted higher GPAs in regular campus students, but not the fully online students.  However, university connectedness predicated intentions to persist in both regular campus and fully online students.  Implications are discussed.

Cultivating Online Faculty Growth Through Leadership Training

Celine Santiago Hall
Nikki Williams

by Celine Santiago Hall
Nikki Williams

Whether in business or education, leadership should always take steps to prepare employees for increasing responsibilities and future leadership roles. Continuous leadership training helps ensure employees are prepared to lead their classrooms as well as step into future leadership roles with confidence. Cultivating faculty leadership has numerous benefits for not only the faculty involved, but for their students, and ultimately the university as well.

An Organic and Generative Online Discussion Alternative

Beth René Roepnack

by Beth René Roepnack

As online learning grows, we have an exciting opportunity and responsibility to create online discussion structures that promote engaging, generative, and discursive conversations that increase critical thinking and reflection. Organic-style discussions that are similar to classroom conversations increase critical thinking skills and offer a viable alternative to the parallel monologues promoted by post-and-reply-to-two instructions.

Assessment of Program Learning in Accelerated Capstone Courses

Cynthia B. Faulkner
Shelly Webb

by Cynthia B. Faulkner Shelly Webb

A culminating experience is incorporated into most graduate programs. Capstone courses are one methodology for structuring this experience. These courses are designed to integrate student learning throughout their studies, making them a natural point for program and student learning assessment. The development of capstone courses must consider the perspective of stakeholders with an interest in the program’s outcomes. Challenges in curriculum development can occur when seeking to embed assessment within accelerated adult programs. A case-study based capstone presents an opportunity for the effective demonstration of student application of program learning. An example is presented of a case-based capstone designed to meet the needs of stakeholders for effective program assessment.

Perspectives on Undergraduate Research Mentorship: A Comparative Analysis Between Online and Traditional Faculty

Emily K. Faulconer
Zachary Dixon
John Griffith
Laura Faulconer

by Emily K. Faulconer
Zachary Dixon
John Griffith
Laura Faulconer

With an increase in distance faculty, it is important to understand how faculty perceptions of undergraduate research mentorship differ between distance and traditional faculty. Perceptions were examined in a medium sized, not-for-profit university with both residential and distance faculty. Residential faculty were more likely to mentor or were very interested in undergraduate research, but overall interest in mentorship was similar across campuses. Faculty status or career experience was not correlated to interest or engagement in research mentorship. Traditional faculty were more likely to report time commitment as a significant barrier than distance faculty. Other barriers and benefits were aligned between campuses, with top benefits, barriers, and motivators being student-focused as opposed to faculty or institution-focused. The majority of faculty surveyed hold undergraduate research as an integral component of higher education. Recommendations for future include the exploration of online student motivation and preparedness to engage in research as well as the mindset (fixed versus growth) of faculty regarding student motivation and preparedness.

From the Editor

Melanie ClayGreetings readers,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones well. Many of us could not have imagined when our last edition was released in March all that would come in the following months. It has been a trying time of grand proportions for our profession and our country. The very technologies that have enabled us to continue teaching, learning and communicating have also shone a stark light on our vulnerabilities and injustices.

Among our challenges in the times ahead are navigating new waters and continuing to act with both an innovative spirit and fearless integrity. My wish for all is that we find the proverbial silver lining in these times. It's an opportunity to better our approaches to distance learning teaching and administration. A time to rethink our priorities. And, most of all, a time to reconnect with one another in the most authentic ways, in spite of distances or differences.

Peace to all,

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.

June 15, 2020

To be notified of future publications contact the UWG Distance & Distributed Education Center

Last modified:June 15, 2020