Draft 2 Online Course Recommendation

Posted by Thomas Burkholder on April 11th, 2013 — Posted in Uncategorized



A university education is more than a content delivery system it is a community of learners and teachers focused on continuing pursuit of knowledge and means of acquiring, synthesizing and applying it.  Online courses may be a component of that, but cannot replace that.  Pedagogy should drive the use of the technology and not vice-versa.  A careful and thoughtful strategy for incorporating online learning into the curriculum should be developed and assessed.

Proposed Trial

Development of this strategy is hampered by the dearth of meaningful assessment allowing comparison of online to on-ground courses.  With this in mind we propose several changes to the university’s online course policy including the following

  • Recommend lifting the cap on online-only courses from 10 to 20 in the fall and spring to allow a one year trial with a maximum of 20 sections per semester online only courses (excluding online grad programs and non-credit courses.) Assessment of online delivery (in addition to the dept. instrument) for the courses is required and class sizes no larger than the comparable on-ground course.
  • Preference would be given to courses offered online which have an on-ground counterpart during the academic year for comparison.
  • For the purposes of this trial, a report on the learning outcomes (etc) will be required for online-courses. Suggested comparison to previous on-ground course using either departmental instrument or other similar tool.  Additional questions evaluating the online experience will be listed here.
  • Courses would still have to be approved by the dept. chair and the dean would have to winnow down the candidates to get to 20.
  • Online courses that are part of this trial in the spring and the fall should be restricted to matriculated students.  We strongly encourage at least one in-person assessment as appropriate for the course material.  A method for verifying student identity should be incorporated in the course.
  • Trial would last one full calendar year and results of assessment would be evaluated to determine future directions.

Online Course Assessment

All online courses are subject to contractual and department guidelines regarding evaluation of courses.  The survey tool survey.ccsu.edu or other suitable method can be used to administer the department instrument.  The larger number of courses offered online in the summer form an ideal, but untapped pool for assessment and should be assessed during the trial period.

A meaningful assessment should not only include measurement of content knowledge but should also include assessment of other benefits of a university course.  The university assessment committee should be heavily involved in the development of this assessment.

Additional Recommendations

No faculty should ever be forced to offer a course online and all course materials developed by a faculty member are the sole property of that faculty member.

Faculty new to online-only courses should have training with Instructional Design before teaching these courses.  We recommend the  Committee on Teaching and Learning help coordinate faculty development.

An interactive online student training program aimed at students who have not previously taken online courses will be made available. This should help students to become familiar with the skills needed to be successful in an online course.

We strongly encourage full-time faculty to develop and offer online courses and to participate in this trial.

Hybrid Courses

A course is hybrid if there is a reduction of on-ground class meeting times with the expectation that the online component will count for the remaining credit load.  This could be a 3 credit class that meets 1 day/week for 1:15 with the other half is online.  This could be a course that meets 3 days/week for :50 but carries 4 credits.  Courses that are listed as hybrid should not require more than 50% of the course be online.

In all cases, hybrid courses should be listed in the course offerings with the division of online/onground time made explicit.  For example a 3 credit 50/50 course would announce the on-ground meeting time (1 day/week for 1:15 in NC 22410) and the online meeting time (1:15/week ONLINE).  In no case should faculty simply announce at the beginning of classes that the course listed as MW 9:25-10:40 in LD 210 is actually a hybrid that meets once a week.

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