Winter 2006 - Volume 9 Issue 4

Should Tutoring Services be Added to our High-Enrolling
Distance Education Courses?

by Peter B. Williams
     Scott L. Howell
     R. Dwight Laws
     Emily Metheny

Distance learning administrators are always looking for ways to balance increasing demands on instructor time, rising expectations from students and faculty for support services, mounting competition, and escalating costs with quality instruction and interaction. Increasingly, programs are responding to these competing interests by appending ancillary resources to course materials and textbooks and by using computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools, e.g., e-mail, online bulletin and discussion boards, blogs, interactive television, and computer conferencing.


Collaborative Coaching and Networking for Online Instructors

Jason Baker

by Jason D. Baker
     Kristin L. Redfield
     Shauna Tonkin

This paper presents a model of professional development using collaborative coaching and networking which has been used to improve online instructor effectiveness. Components of the model are presented in the context of a ten-year-old faculty development program at a private university in the Southeast. A collaborative coaching checklist is also provided.


Selected Distance Education Disaster Planning Lessons Learned From Hurricane Katrina

by Kay L. McLennan

This paper details one institution's experience developing post disaster online instructional capability without access to the institution's courseware platform and help desk services. In turn, the post disaster distance education lessons learned include the possible need for all institutions to: prearrange an interruption of service agreement with courseware providers for emergency alternative platform capability; add simple course site administrator instructions to the mandated/recommended training for online instructors; evaluate the need for decentralizing courseware platform administration capabilities; and remind online instructors to keep (and/or evacuate with) copies of any teaching materials they would need to recreate their e-learning course sites.


Staying the Course: A Study in Online Student Satisfaction and Retention

by Michael Herbert

With the exponential growth of online courses in higher education, retention is an area of great concern. Online student retention has been suggested as one of the greatest weaknesses in online education (Carr, 2000; O'Brien, 2002). Studies show that the failed retention rate for online college and university undergraduates range from 20 to 50% and that online course administrators believe the failed retention rate for online courses to be 10 to 20% higher than traditional classroom environments (Frankola, 2001; Diaz, 2002).


The Trainer's Application of Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal
Development" to Asynchronous Online Training of Faculty

by Dorette Welk

Faculty members require training when they first learn how to teach in a specific online format. Such training introduces them to the technical features that will allow an exchange of information, discussions, and course materials and to how to use these features to advance student learning. Since online education can be defined and approached in numerous ways, several terms require definition to set the context for this paper.


Development of an E-Education Framework

by “John” Jin H. Im

Internet technologies blur the distinction between distance learning and traditional learning by enabling the convergence of these two, thus causing confusion in widely-accepted definitions, terminologies, concepts, and theories on distance learning. This paper introduces an e-education framework with three reference models in order to reduce the confusion caused by the traditional distance learning framework; to map newly emerging learning modes; and to explore new and innovative education models.


From the Editor

I hope this latest issue of the OJDLA finds all of you well and in the throes of holiday spirit. Last weekend, our distance learning staff here at the University of West Georgia spent the weekend at our semi-annual planning retreat (pictured below). One of the challenges we discussed is how to increase retention among students enrolled in our freshman and sophomore-level online courses. Since this past summer’s retreat, our creed has been to reach out and help each of these students as though it were our own child. When they call our office seeking advice about which courses to take, how to registered for proctored exams, or how to succeed in spite of personal or course-related challenges, we take the time to fully and completely address their concerns (sometimes up to 45 minutes for one phone call), take a genuine interest in them, and follow-up with them as needed.

We also inundate them with emails reminding them of important deadlines, and have student assistants who call each of them before the course begins to make sure that they understand the nature of online learning. Finally, we have recently hired a student tutor to assist online students with particularly challenging subjects, such as chemistry. Our goal over the next year is to cut drop-out rates by at least 25 percent.

Thus, I am pleased to present two articles directly related to this issue. First of all, Peter Williams and award-winning author Scott Howell (along with R. Dwight Laws and Emily Metheny) provide the results of their research regarding the utilization of their online tutoring program at Brigham Young University. Michael Herbert also brings us related research on student retention in online courses. These are critical areas of interest to distance learning administrators, and I hope that these articles will encourage even more research in these areas.

Also, in this issue, we have a wonderful mixture of other topics, including faculty development, disaster planning, and development of e-learning frameworks. As always, please contact me if you have any comments or suggestions for our journal. Warm wishes for a great new year!

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
December 15, 2006

Last modified: December 15th, 2006