Considerations for Distance Learning Program Development In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for EDUI 6705 By
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for EDUI 6705
Patrick Murphy Reardon
June , 2007
- Culture and Stakeholders Identification
- Clearly Defined Goals of Distance Learning Program and Planning
- Organizational Resource Planning
- Stakeholder Barriers and Solutions
- Evaluation of Current Programs
- Future Implementation Possibilities
Equal distribution of information is a right of every human. Distance Learning, (DL) via online delivery, can eventually be the greatest vehicle toward a more equal distribution of education throughout the world. This can be achieved through development of quality organizational infrastructures which clearly recognize the needs of all stakeholders with an emphasis on the student through a learner centered Constructivist approach.
Each organization has a unique culture to it and, as such, has its own set of of barriers (Judd, 2007).
It is necessary to recognize the culture of the DL organization in order to properly address all stakeholder group needs.
Identification of all stakeholder groups is imperative.
By including administration, any faculty, staff, an students in this process, it will be easier to obtain a campus-wide consensus on the vision (Bloomfield,
1993; Hughes, 2001).
The 2001 Campus Computing Survey (Green, 2001) found that 11.8% of the nation’s colleges and universities included e-commerce, such as bookstores and online tuition payments, in their strategic plan. Colleges have done little, if any, planning as they implement online programs (Buchanan, 2000).
The purpose of planning is to develop methods to align an institution with the environment (Rowley & Sherman, 2001).
Planning helps a college to grow and change in an organized, meaningful process (Rogers, 2001).
Planning an online distance learning program needs to become a central focus of a college’s strategic planning process because student expectations regarding ODL programs will continue to grow (Boettcher & Kumar, 2000).
Colleges need to be prepared to react to the internal and external changes caused by technological advances while maintaining the mission of their college (Hache, 2000).
Distance education programs must have their own mission statements. Those programs without specific mission statements claimed to follow their parent institution's overall mission statement. Program will continue to meet the needs of students while being open to new technologies (Compra, 2003).
In many distance education operations that I have examined, significant elements of successful systems are missing. Therefore , contrary to what was believed a few years ago, distance education has not brought down the cost of education, let alone turn a profit (Saba, 2007).
How will we support the growing number of higher education age students within our current infrastructure and maintain the quality of our education system without losing students to corporate courseware vendors?(Callahan, 2003)
Organizational Resource Planning Planning The Answer
In addition to Clearly Defined Goals of DL Programs and Planning, is Maintenance and Acquisition of Resources thru Advanced Financial Planning.
In order for a distance education program to be successful a yearly budget must be established. The most developed and strongest programs involved in the study had their own budgets. The weakest programs were those that relied solely on startup money and grants (Willis,1994).
Advanced planning and policy development are the key to a well-run distance learning program. This planning will allow money to be spent more efficiently such as buying one software package to serve multiple purposes, rather than several packages over several years (Levy, 2003).
"... the juggernaut of online education appears to have stalled" (Noble). For evidence, he points his finger at countless failed efforts, including: rejection of the California Educational Technology Initiative (CETI); …….The striking thing that all these failures have in common is that they are all top-down initiatives (Werry, 2001).
Organizational balance can be achieved through:
-Acknowledgment of all stakeholders
-Stakeholder group needs
The Major Stakeholder Groups:
Faculty and Staff
Many students are just now engaging in every day emailing between themselves, faculty, and staff as part of campus life
and navigating through new online DL modalities can be frustrating (Boettcher, 2000).
Support must be provided and the most successful avenues have been: call-in help desks, structured and evaluated workbooks, and informed technical tutor support
Lack of effective technical support and troubleshooting, when a teacher experiences difficulty with an online staff development program, adds to the frustration of participating teachers.
Lack of resources due to a declining economy, and in turn decreased budgets, is preventing some states from fully developing their technology infrastructures in the schools ( Mayen & Yang).
Getting schools to choose online activities as a required or optional developmental activity is often difficult. Many districts are still employing only traditional forms of staff development.
Lack of attention to connecting staff development with student outcomes may contribute to the devaluing of staff development (Mayen & Yang).
Even if specific faculty members do not teach distance education courses, their content expertise and knowledge of the institution's programs make them a key component in establishing learning outcomes and objectives Clay (1999).
Faculty involvement and training is ultimately aimed toward meeting the needs of the student via focuses such as:
-one-on-one lab sessions;
-monthly discussion sessions among peers;
-observation of other distance courses.
In contrast, administrators perceived the greatest threat as stemming from competition from private and public institutions (Dooley and Murphrey, 2000).
However interviews with local resident experts; Dr. Nan Chico of CSUEB, and Dr. Farhad Saba of SDSU, it is apparent that successful DL programs can be developed completely within the campus system.
Some administrators at the level of our director of media services are involved in distance education. However, in general, SDSU administration does not play a major role in distance teaching and learning in the university. (Reardon & Saba, 2007)
Administrators have the potential to greatly impact the overall effectiveness and quality of
an ODL program (Husmann & Miller, 2001),
yet they are often unaware of the opportunities afforded to their colleges through ODL (Garrison, 1989; Moore & Kearsley, 1996).
The more policies and procedures that are cross-institutionalized, the more competitive and quality driven a college or universities online programs will be.
This factor must be recognized as a major function of administration.
Participants’ confidence in the planning process is increased when it is known that all participants have had a common experience in completing online instruction rather than merely sharing perspectives or beliefs and assumptions (Meyen & Yang, 2002).
Review of the Venn diagrams revealed that the majority of the categories were shared among administrators, faculty and support units. The predominant category was found to be identical among the groups in relation to strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses while each group expressed a unique prominent category in relation to threats (Dooley & Murphrey, 2000).
(Dooley & Murphrey, 2000)
"Evaluation should provide feedback to improve the implementation process (formative evaluation) and should give a final assessment of the instruction's effectiveness (summative evaluation). Based upon these findings, instruction should be revised" (Willis, 1994).
Overall program effectiveness is determined by such measures as:
The extent to which student learning matches intended outcomes, including, for degree programs, both the goals of general education and the objectives of the major (Balancing Quality & Access, 1995).
Student retention rates, including variations over time
Student satisfaction, as measured by regular surveys (Balancing Quality & Access, 1995).
Faculty satisfaction, as measured by regular surveys and by formal and informal peer review processes.
The extent to which access is provided to students not previously served (Balancing Quality & Access, 1995).
Measures of the extent to which library and learning resources are used appropriately by the program’s students.
Measures of student competence in fundamental skills such as communication, comprehension, and analysis.
Cost effectiveness of the program to its students, as compared to campus-based alternatives (Balancing Quality & Access, 1995).
Students accepted into the CSUEB Masters Program, after completing EDUI 6701-6704, act as faculty and staff support for the implimentation of hybrid and online classes.
Pilot year, students receiving their certificate in Online Teaching and Learning would assume this role as an elective.
After pre- & post-evaluations and the implementation of revisions this program could become a model for campus DL and hybrid class implementation (Reardon, 2006).
"The way to proceed in online learning is ironically, given the nature of the Internet, slow and cautious. The introduction of new technology must be, as David Jones says, “a product of evolution.” Pilot delivery and evaluation should be conducted before the announcements and promises are made. Staff should be acclimated and trained in new technologies and methodologies” (Jones, 2003).
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