Spring 2021 - Volume 24 Issue 1


DLA 2021
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DLA2021 will be held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, in Jekyll Island, Georgia on July 25 - July 28, 2021

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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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Events & Learning

Distance Learning Administration Conference
 Jekyll Island, Georgia 
July 25-28, 2021

Meaningful Living and Learning in a Digital World
TBA February 2022

Thanks to the
University of West Georgia
for providing this webspace

Editorial Board

Dr. Melanie Clay
University of West Georgia

Managing Editor
Ms. Rebecca Smith
University of West Georgia

Associate Editor
Ms. Julie Stone Ingle
University of West Georgia

Editorial Board
Dr. Mac Adkins


Christopher L. A. Ahlstrom
University of Maryland Global Campus

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. Diane M. Burnette
South Carolina State University

Dr. Jason G. Caudill
King University

Mr. Matthew N. Clay
University of West Georgia

Dr. Sherry A. Clouser
University of Georgia

Bradly Corlett
Director of Naval Requirements

Canadian Armed Forces

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. 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. Tressa Kelly
University of West Georgia

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. 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

Dr. Anna Obedkova
Towson University

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
Northcentral 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

Past OJDLA Editors

Dr. Stephen J. Anspacher
The New School

Dr. Michael Beaudoin
University of New England

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett
University of West Georgia


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


Erik Burns
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Beverly L. Bower
University of North Texas

Dr. W. Dean Care
Brandon University


Yong Chen
Old Dominion University


Dr. Larry V. Flegle
American Military University

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. Elke M. Leeds
Western Governors 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


Dr. Joann Kroll Wheeler
Texas A & M University

Current Issue

Rapid Online Teaching and Learning (ROTL), Leading with Action During a Worldwide Pandemic

Michelle E. Bartlett
Carrol Warren


Michelle E. Bartlett
Carrol Warren

In a rapidly evolving climate wrought with a multitude of challenges and complications, transitioning seated courses to an online format resulted in creative and positive changes which resulted in student success and faculty resilience. This research project was developed by a leadership center at a large land grant university in an effort to create tools and resources for community colleges who requested coaching support during the transition from seated courses to Rapid Online Teaching and Learning (ROTL). Project outcomes included access to one-on-one coaching services between instructional designers and community college faculty, live webinars on topics related to the rapid transition, and the establishment of a host of resources created to provide support.

Improving the “Other Side” to Faculty Presence in Online Education

Richard J. Fendler


Richard J. Fendler


Much of the online education literature stresses the importance of teacher presence. The most common techniques used by online teachers to achieve presence are frequently posting written announcements, providing clear written instructions on assignments, offering students meaningful written feedback, and timely responding to emails. However, if students fail to carefully read, they gloss over or they completely ignore these instructor efforts, a teacher’s influence is muted, and student learning outcomes may suffer. Indeed, in an empirical test of over 500 students this hypothesis is validated. Specifically, accounting for GPA, major, age, prerequisite knowledge, student satisfaction, effort, gender, and outside distractions, students who did not follow instructions on the initial course assignment, indicating a propensity to ignore instructor guidance, earned a significantly lower grade on the comprehensive final exam than students who followed instructions. In subsequent iterations of the same course, when the instructor frequently stressed to students the importance of reading announcements and instructions and when those items were provided to students in audio as well as in written format, this negative consequence on learning outcomes was mitigated. Our study and findings suggest that teachers can improve the learning outcomes of a significant number of students in an online class by using these same simple techniques.

Delivering Virtual Labs in Rehabilitative Sciences During COVID-19: Strategies and Instructional Cases

Maria Puzziferro
Elisabeth McGee

Maria Puzziferro

Elisabeth McGee

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented shift in how health science education is delivered (Sandars et al., 2020). With face-to-face learning, such as lab and classroom interactions, largely unavailable during the pandemic, institutions have been required to quickly shift the learning environment to a fully virtual format. While in-person clinical training for students effectively came to a halt, the University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) leveraged its technology infrastructure, clinical simulation resources and expertise, digital learning resources, and innovative culture to implement a continuity plan for both faculty and students.

Due to federal and local regulations related to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, programs in the medical and rehabilitative sciences have been faced with the unique challenge of converting hands-on laboratory activities to an online format. This conversion has been complicated by rapidly evolving standards regarding activities acceptable to meet accrediting body guidelines for fieldwork and/or clinical education. However, most accrediting bodies have sanctioned the use of virtual labs to maintain continuity of instruction by preparing and in some cases substituting virtual for hands-on learning activities.

This paper will provide an overview of the strategic learning framework that is being employed by the University in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and share practical case examples of how faculty have used university resources and support to not only maintain academic continuity, but to deliver excellence during virtual instruction.

Does Instructor Quality Affect Student Performance in a College Statistics Course?
John Griffith
Emily Faulconer
Bobby McMasters 


John Griffith

Emily Faulconer
Bobby McMasters

Various instructor qualities have been shown to have variable influences student outcomes in online courses.
In this study, the impact of faculty quality on student performance was examined
by comparing student performance when taught by excellent faculty and average faculty (determined through administrative evaluations). We examined 328 student grades from a 2019 January term 200 level elementary statistics course. Student performance measures included final course scores, grade distributions and pass rates. Learning modality (asynchronous vs. synchronous) and course design (e.g. syllabus, textbook, assignment and assessment design, etc.) as confounding variables were controlled through the template approach implemented at the study institution. The statistical analysis of the influence of modality ensured that modality was a controlled variable as there was no statistically significant difference in student outcomes across the online course modalities studied. There was no statistically significant difference in learner outcomes between students who were taught by faculty rated excellent compared to those taught by faculty rated average. It is likely that the standardized nature of the courses combined with the mandatory faculty training in online teaching and learning best practices minimized differences between instructors. Future research should examine more specific indicators of faculty quality such as social presence in online discussions and teaching presence in feedback. Furthermore, future research could examine the influence of faculty gender on student outcomes in online modalities.


Identifying and Removing Barriers Influencing New Students’ Decision to enroll in an online course

Bettina Brockerhoff-Macdonald


Bettina Brockerhoff-Macdonald
Christina Sckopke

Why are newly admitted students to online programs not registering in courses in the session for which they applied for admission. Two surveys were completed (January 2019 and May 2019) by students who had accepted an offer of admission into an online program at Laurentian University, but had subsequently not registered for courses for the academic session for which the admission application had been made. The surveys’ aim was to determine which factors prevented students from enrolling into courses. Findings from the surveys indicate that while financial factors are most often cited (as is reflected in the current research literature), steps can be taken by the institution to mitigate this particular factor and support students in their decision to enroll in courses. This article presents an overview of the identified barriers (financial support and lack of proper academic advising) and discusses some of the strategies, which Laurentian University has since undertaken to help remove or lessen these barriers.


Professional Learning Communities as a Faculty Support During the COVID-19 Transition to Online Learning
Lauren Tucker
Angie Quintero-Ares


Lauren Tucker
Angie Quintero-Ares

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the dramatic shift to online learning for professors and students. In addition to rapidly building capacity to teach and to learn online, professors were removed from their professional communities. Social learning opportunities which exist in the workplace are essential to brainstorm ideas, to discuss teaching practices, and to problem-solve situations (Gerken et al., 2016). However, some universities focused on formal technical training to rapidly build capacity, e.g. how-to video conference, how to share files. A qualitative study was conducted to investigate the impact of complementing the formal technology training provided by the university with weekly Professional Learning Communities (PLC) during the unexpected online transition. Full and part-time faculty members from two departments were invited to participate. After 10 sessions, the findings revealed significant community-building that ranged from self-care to professional support. The participants evolved from simply sharing tools and asking technical how-to questions to deep discussions around online learning pedagogy. The PLC approach allowed the faculty to move from simply learning online teaching tools to engaging in meaningful discussions around online teaching pedagogy and improving student learning.




From the Editor
Melanie Clay


It was one year ago today that we began working completely from home. One year ago that all of our classes moved online. And one year ago that Walt Disney World closed its gates for months.

As vaccinations give us a greater sense of safety and our hearts long for the way we were, it's no wonder that we are racing to get back to life before the pandemic.

But if anything good is to come from this, we should not throw away some of the lessons that we learned over the past year.

In education, we must be more student-centered than ever before and not see online versus face-to-face as a binary choice. Rather, take the best of both and create more hybrid classrooms as appropriate. It's also a superb time to shift our thinking from attendance as a punitive portion of grading to a true emphasis on competencies and outcomes. And finally, we can do the same for our work environments - nourishing hybrid environments that maximize space, productivity, engagement and creativity.

This issue includes some articles that highlight some of the lessons learned. Our upcoming Distance Learning Administration Conference at the end of July will also have many related presentations. This is our 21st meeting in Jekyll Island, and I can't wait to see you there this year face-to-face!


Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.


March 15, 2021

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

March 15, 2021