Current Issue

Assessing Student Retention in Online Learning Environments: A Longitudinal Study

Daniel Judd
Wallace Boston, Phil Ice, Melissa Burgess

by Wallace Boston
     Phil Ice
     Melissa Burgess

In their initial study, authors Boston, Ice, and Gibson (2011) explored the relationship between student demographics and interactions, and retention at a large online university. Participants in the preliminary study (n = 20,569) included degree-seeking undergraduate students who completed at least one course at the American Public University System (APUS) in 2007. Two notable findings from the study were (1) the importance of transfer credit, and (2) the consistency of activity in predicting continued enrollment. Interestingly, the latter finding was confirmed upon the analysis of longitudinal data from the current study. Further related to the latter finding-yet unexpected, was the existence of new literature that, although subtle, affirms the importance for online institutions to conduct ongoing research on these topics. Readers of the current study are encouraged to refer to the preliminary study toward a comprehensive understanding of these nuances. Though informative, the researchers wished to validate the original study findings through longitudinal evaluation of retention.

Hiring Managers' Perceptions of the Value of an Online MBA

Daniel Judd
Jeffrey Bailey
David Woolstenhulme
Larry Flegle

by  Jeffrey Bailey
      Larry Flegle

Researchers have theorized that online degrees are less valuable in the perception of hiring managers. Identifying the factors which influence the hiring managers’ perceptions and if obtaining a degree from a for-profit institution influences that perception is critical in designing programs and courses. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors that are considered as adding value to an online MBA.

Distance Learning for Special Populations

Frank Butts
Rodger Bates

by  Rodger Bates

Distance education strategies for remotely deployed, highly mobile, or institutionalized populations are reviewed and critiqued. Specifically, asynchronous, offline responses for special military units, Native Americans on remote reservations, prison populations and other geographically, temporally or technologically isolated niche populations are explored.

Distance Education Assessment Infrastructure and Process Design Based on International Standard 23988
Frank Butts
Steven Shaffer

by Steven Shaffer

Assessment is an important part of distance education (DE). As class sizes get larger and workloads increase, the IT infrastructure and processes used for DE assessments become more of an issue. Using the BS ISO/IEC 23988:2007 Standard for the use of technology in the delivery of assessments as a guide, this paper describes a rational approach to an information technology infrastructure and process which helps to answer questions regarding the quality and integrity of DE based assessments. This paper remains agnostic with regard to the validity of types of assessments used for various purposes, and deals only with the issues of IT delivery and the management of assessments. The information presented can be used as a basis for in-house written software development or to compare and contrast various off-the-shelf options.

Comparing Faculty Perceptions of an Online Development Course: Addressing Faculty Needs for Online Teaching
Daniel Judd
Joseph Terantino
David Woolstenhulme
Edoh Agbehonou

by Joseph Terantino
     Edoh Agbehonou

Since the advent of hybrid and online instructional delivery for college and university courses, a principal issue has been training faculty to design and deliver these courses. The present study examines a faculty development course, “Build a Web Course,” offered to educate faculty members about how to design, create, and implement technology and internet-based instructional materials for the purpose of hybrid and online courses. Of particular interest to this study, the faculty participants were required to complete the development course as online students. More specifically, the study compares faculty perceptions from two separate offerings of the course and the distinct groups of faculty. Through an analysis of the faculty participants’ perceptions, this study seeks to highlight the perceived differences and similarities in the learning outcomes for the two courses to determine if strategic changes in the course prove to be beneficial. Among an array of positive findings related to the course, the faculty participants also indicated they did not feel that the nature of the guest speakers was appropriate, and they felt underprepared to complete the subsequent Quality Matters review of their courses. These results may aid in further understanding what faculty members perceive they need to become effective in preparing instructional materials for hybrid and online teaching.

Online Education in Public Affairs
Daniel Judd
Martha Ginn
David Woolstenhulme
Augustine Hammond

by Martha Ginn
     Augustine Hammond

This exploratory study provides an overview of the current landscape of online education in the fields of Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy (MPA/MPP) utilizing a dataset compiled from content analysis of MPA/MPP programs’ websites and survey of 96 National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) affiliated institutions. Areas studied include the rationales for offering or not offering online education, concerns with technology, modes of online instruction, student services, faculty and staff demands and enrollment patterns. The primary goal stated for offering courses and degrees online is to reach more students. We found substantial diversity in teaching methods which suggests students and instructors alike are attracted to online education due to its flexibility. Surprisingly, we did not find any significant problems with technological concerns.    

From the Editor

Melanie ClayHello Readers:

We just returned from an amazing DLA conference this year at Jekyll Island. It was our biggest group to date (but we like to keep it small) with lots of representation from American Public University System, Kennesaw State University, College of Coastal Georgia and Clayton State University. I especially enjoyed the keynote speech this year, by Dr. Charles Bird, retired administrator from Ohio University. I found him through his blogs on innovation and branch campuses. If you haven't come across them before, check them out - a major abundance of wisdom there.

Another individual who has achieved rock star status at our conference is Dr. Phil Ice, of American Public University System. I must have spoken to at least 10 people at DLA who delightfully mentioned their conversations with him, and his name showed up repeatedly in the conference evaluations regarding "favorite concurrent session." In this issue of OJDLA, you'll find his article (co-written by his brilliant colleagues Wallace Boston and Melissa Burgess), along with our other two DLA Best Papers.

I'm sure that all of you in distance learning administration are as busy as I am these days, but take some time to really enjoy your summer! I'm hoping that at next year's conference someone does a session on "Work-Life Balance for the Distance Learning Administrator!"


Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
June 15, 2012


A special thanks to Thinking Cap for being the premiere sponsor of DLA2012!

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Last modified: June 15, 2012