Current Issue

An Exploration of the Representation of Students with Disabilities in Distance Education

Michael Woods, Jeffrey Maiden, Joyce Brandes

by   Michael Woods
       Jeffrey Maiden

       Joyce Brandes

The primary purpose of this study was to address the dearth of research in the area of educating students with disabilities through distance education (DE).  Corollary research questionvens istigated perceptions, beliefs, and expectations of secondary school principals and special education teachers.  Data were analyzed to determine the existence of statistically significant differences in efficacy of secondary school principals and special education teachers related to location and size of the school site. 

Mentoring University Faculty to Become High Quality Online Educators: A Program Evaluation

David Woolstenhulme
Janet Buckenmeyer, Casey Barczyk, Lori Feldman, Emily Hixon

by   Emily Hixon
       Casimir Barczyk
       Janet Buckenmeyer
       Lori Feldman

This study summarizes the results of a program evaluation of the Distance Education Mentoring Program (DEMP), an ongoing initiative at Purdue University Calumet, Indiana (USA) designed to enhance the development of online courses by mentoring faculty in instructional design principles and technology. The evaluation covers a four year period and is based on a survey of 47 protégé-participants, who are both faculty members and clients of the program, using an anonymous online questionnaire. The research questions yielded evidence that focused on two broad themes, one of which was faculty participation, satisfaction, and university impact of the program. The second theme addressed the programmatic modifications required by a changing faculty client base. Analysis showed that thirty percent of the university’s faculty have participated in the program and were teaching 44% of the online courses offered by the university. This suggests that the DEMP was making a mainstream impact on faculty views and abilities related to the online delivery of material. Participants were satisfied with the DEMP and its effectiveness, which was related to the collaborative nature of the program. It was also found that faculty participating in later cohort groups of the DEMP had different needs, which necessitated building more structure and accountability into the program. Policy implications for program administrators are discussed to help universities develop a competitive advantage in the growing market for online education.  

Administrators' Views on Factors Influencing Full-Time Faculty Members' Participation in Online Education

Faye Lesht
Fred Hartfield
Deborah Windes

by   Faye Lesht
       Deborah Windes

This pilot study was conducted in order to explore factors that facilitate and inhibit the teaching of online courses from an administrative perspective. A random sample of community college and public and private universities was selected, and administrators working closely in online education were invited to participate. A qualitative (interview-based) research design was used. Administrators of two public universities, one private university, and two community colleges participated; 12 interviews were completed and 1 additional participant e-mailed responses for a total of 13 data sets. Facilitating factors included concerns for institutional survival, student demand, fulfilling professional responsibilities to one’s field by expanding access to the profession through online programs, and the flexibility afforded by online courses. Inhibiting factors included preparation time in terms of designing high-quality online courses, fear of and resistance to change, the fit between online education and select curricula, and missing the “energy” of the classroom. The study considered blended education as well but the data pertained exclusively to online education. Disruptive Innovation Theory (Christensen 2003; Christensen et al. 2011) was used to interpret the data.

Managing Fair Use on Campus: The Online Academic Administrator's Dilemma
David Woolstenhulme
Michael Wiggins

by   Michael Wiggins

University administrators who have distance learning programs under their charge are on the horns of a dilemma. Given the growing litigiousness of copyright holders and the unsettled state of the law, it has become very difficult to establish failsafe administrative rules to guide faculty and student use of copyrighted materials. But the use of intellectual property such as texts, videos and scholarly articles is essential to the delivery of higher education, so administrators must face the dilemma head on. Against this backdrop, university administrators must take preventative measures to avoid improper uses of intellectual property while simultaneously encouraging beneficial uses of such materials. This is a harrowing balancing act.

Distance Learning is Good for the Environment: Savings in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Elliott Campbell
Fred Hartfield
David Campbell

by  Elliott Campbell
      David Campbell

Distance learning is associated with a variety of benefits such as reduced use of campus facilities, increased accessibility, and control of disease transmission. In this study, we explore an additional benefit: mitigation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions contributing to global climate change. A survey was presented to 500 students enrolled in online courses on three college campuses. Students who commuted by personal car were asked to estimate whether taking the course online resulted in fewer driving trips to campus. The environmental consequences of the estimated reduction in commute trips was assessed by calculating the CO2 emissions savings associated with reduced consumption of gasoline. The results indicate that offering a lower-division class of 100 students with an online format leads to reduced CO2 emissions of 5-10 tons per semester, and knowledge of such an environmental benefit leads to enhanced student satisfaction with distance learning.

Development of the Student Expectations of Online Learning Survey (SEOLS): A Pilot Study
Sandra Harris,Yvonne Larrier, Marianne Castano-Bishop

by  Sandra Harris
      Yvonne Larrier

      Marianne Castano-       Bishop

The problem of attrition in online learning has drawn attention from distance education administrators and chief academic officers of higher education institutions. Many studies have addressed factors related to student attrition, persistence and retention in online courses. However, few studies have examined how student expectations influence student retention and persistence in online learning. There is a need for a systematic method of addressing the relationship between student expectations and persistence in online education. This study investigated the reliability of the Student Expectations of Online Learning Survey (SEOLS) as a tool for assessing student expectations for elements of online courses. The 44 items on the survey are distributed among 7 scales. The pilot study consisted of 17 students enrolled in online courses of a master's level counseling program at a mid-sized Midwestern University in the United States. Results revealed good to excellent reliability indices for the scales that ranged from a = .64 to a = .95. Data from the pilot study indicated that the SEOLS is an instrument that can be used to reliably assess student expectations of the online learning environment. The authors present a discussion for use of the instrument and implications for future research.


From Bricks To Clicks: Building Quality K-12 Online Classes Through An Innovative Course Review Project
Kim Huett, Jason Huett, Ravic Ringlaben

by  Kim Huett
      Jason Huett

      Ravic Ringlaben

Using an explanatory mixed methods design, this study uses the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses to measure the extent to which teachers in a blended middle school and a fully online supplemental high school are designing quality online learning environments for students. As a part of fully online graduate coursework, graduate student reviewers were trained to conduct course reviews of blended or fully online courses created by teachers in one of two Georgia secondary local education agencies. In teams, the graduate student reviewers reported the synthesis of their findings and recommendations to the teacher designers and their respective administrators.


Faculty Development: An Analysis of Current and Effective Training Strategies for Preparing Faculty to Teach Online
David Woolstenhulme
Karen Lackey

by  Karen Lackey

This study identifies how higher education institutions are preparing their faculty to teach online using a qualitative methodology.  Six participants, three experienced and three non-experienced online faculty members, were purposely selected and interviewed.  Participants were asked questions regarding their preparation experiences, the activities they felt were most beneficial, and areas in which they would like further development.  The findings revealed that faculty found collaborating with colleagues, more one-on-one assistance with university personnel, and online courses and resources that offer both technical and pedagogical training to be the most beneficial to preparing them to teach online.  The results of the study offer relevant information to redesign preparation activities that will better prepare faculty to teach online as well as encourage the adoption of online teaching.


From the Editor

Melanie ClayHello Readers:

This issue brings an array of interesting articles and research on many topics of interest to distance learning administrators, including faculty mentoring and training, fair use, and disabilities. and faculty incentives. However one article, by J. Elliott Campbell and David Campbell, strays from the usual topics of greatest interest in that it researches the environmental consequences (carbon dioxide emissions savings) of a group of students taking online courses. This is a topic I've thought about for a long time. I estimated back in the 1990s that our then small distance learning program (fewer than 300 students) at the University of West Georgia enabled students and faculty to save the equivalent of 3-4 trips around the globe in just one semester.  Many times, as DL administrators, we become bogged down in assessments, evaluations, finding ways to make archaic rules fit our new model, and simply managing growth without sacrificing quality. It's easy to forget and refreshing to remember the wonderful benefits of all that we do. How many thousands of students have earned degrees through online learning that would have not otherwise? How many mothers and fathers have been able to spend evenings with their families while taking classes at home? What positive affect has this had on those children? I think it's just fitting that this issue, in the holiday season, includes research about online learning's ultimate gift to the earth.

Have a very merry winter.

Peace to all,

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
Decemberr 15, 2011

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

Last modified: December 15th, 2011