New Directions for eLearning
A proposal for strategically approaching the eLearning challenges facing Jefferson Community and Technical College today
Table of Contents
- KEY POINTS OF THE PROPOSAL
- PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS IN DETAIL
- ELEARNING COUNCIL PROPOSAL
- PROPOSED PERSONNEL STRUCTURE
KEY POINTS OF THE PROPOSAL
Process and procedure
- The eLearning Director will compile all general education online courses prior to their placement in the schedule of classes. This list will be reviewed by the Provost, Academic Deans and Campus Directors.
- The eLearning Director will work with the Academic Deans, the Provost, and the Campus Directors to ensure that the distribution of online courses is balanced among campuses and supported by enrollment data.
- The eLearning Director will work closely with DCs/DHs and the Campus Directors to determine the eLearning needs of this college
- Live count monitoring of online classes will become a regular, ongoing practice.
- A permanent eLearning Council (eLC), will be established to facilitate quality control of online classes.
- Jefferson Community and Technical College faculty will maintain primary responsibility for oversight of course quality.
- Division Chairs will still bear primary responsibility for online classes offered by their divisions, but the eLearning Director and eLC will provide additional accountability.
- Review of courses in this process will ensure comparability and assessment of student learning outcomes in order to fulfill SACS requirements for online course delivery.
- An eLearning Team will be established. This Team will be responsible for the professional training of faculty, assisting in the development of new courses, and the support of eLearning students.
- Qualification of faculty will be uniformly verified.
- Faculty training will not be a “last on the list” item. A Collabotorium will be established whereby faculty will have a definite schedule and defined places to receive help in developing online courses.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS IN DETAIL
Problem area: Academic Quality
- I. Problem: The quality of our eLearning Courses is debatable
- Detail: Although we have a Quality Matters Rubric and a Quality Matters “check off” sheet that divisions are required to use prior to placing an online class in the class schedule, sometimes this process becomes simply a matter of filling out a form rather than really checking for quality. We have online courses that have been in existence for some time and the design of some of those courses is poor. There is very little student/instructor interaction, and some of these resemble correspondence courses, which violates federal aid requirements. Currently, there is no institutional practice for continued monitoring of online course quality.
- Solution: Establish the Office of eLearning as the central body for facilitating the quality assurance process for online learning at Jefferson Community and Technical College. The eLearning Council (eLC) would be restructured to emulate the CQC model, evaluating online courses on a rotating annual basis.
- II. Problem: Evaluations of online courses/instructors are often inadequate.
- Detail: Many online classes do not have adequate course/ instructor evaluations, nor are these evaluations often seen by a quality review body. Some online courses simply do not ask students to do evaluations and some only have a sparse return on course/instructor evaluations.
- Solution: As part of the revised course review process, the Office of eLearning will ensure that all online courses contain appropriate evaluations. eLearning will not evaluate instructors; that process will still be handled within divisions.
- III. Problem: Faculty have little assistance in developing high-quality courses.
- Detail: Jefferson Community and Technical College faculty receive only technology training for online classes. Learning how to use Blackboard is the primary focus of our Academic Quality training. We have not addressed pedagogy in eLearning. It has been assumed that instructors can transfer their pedagogical skills from in person to online.
- Solution: Move beyond simply reviewing existing or newly-developed courses, and work with faculty in actual course design and development. The Office of eLearning would take a more active role in assisting faculty interested in developing courses. This team could establish scheduled “open sessions” for faculty to talk about designing and developing online courses. This would be a much-needed step in the process from course inception to deployment.
- Problem area: Financial Strength and Student Growth
- IV. Problem: Revenues from online classes have been in decline.
- Detail: Jefferson has not been as competitive in the Kentucky eLearning market as in past years. We have lost students and money to other KCTCS colleges for the last three years. This is due to not offering enough high-demand courses/sections, which causes our students to take those classes elsewhere. This is also due to the KCTC policy of listing courses by colleges alphabetically, and Jefferson Community and Technical College is not at the top of the listings. Our divisions have been in the dark about the number of these students we’re losing. Last semester, a campaign to make students and faculty aware of the importance of taking Jefferson Community and Technical College classes was initiated. Also, new courses were developed. During the trial phase of this strategy at the end of 2012, more than 10 new high-demand sections were offered. Jefferson students who enrolled elsewhere were contacted and encouraged to switch to Jefferson classes, where available. More than $60,000 tuition dollars were directly recovered through these latter efforts in a matter of weeks; this does not include students who switched back on their own as a result of our information campaign. This strategy works.
- Solution: Facilitate increasing our online offerings to meet student demand by centralizing the process for reviewing our online offerings, reporting to divisions, and reaching out to our students going elsewhere. Charge the Director of eLearning with the responsibility of analyzing enrollment data and reporting those figures to Presidential staff and to the divisions, as part of our efforts to add needed courses and virtual “seats.” New classes/sections that are added will go through the QA process described previously. Dr.Newberry will continue to make the PLT aware of the problem of eLearning course listings.
- V. Problem: There is a significant lack of coordination among campuses regarding online
- Detail: Our campuses rarely seek outside input or information when determining which classes to offer online. There are “territorial wars” between campuses as campuses try to offer the same eLearning classes so that the campus’ enrollments are larger. In a sense, we are competing against ourselves rather than against other KCTCS colleges. This is not a revenue-friendly practice.
- Solution: Require approval from the Office of eLearning prior to adding any online general education sections (new or otherwise) to the class schedule. The Office of eLearning will compile all online sections prior to them being added to the class schedule. The eLearning Director will consult with the Academic Deans, Campus Directors and the Provost prior to class schedules being established to finalize the eLearning Course schedule and to ensure equity among campuses.
- VI. Problem: Persistence of online students is not a major focus of the college.
- Allowing students to slip through the cracks is not healthy for the student or our bottom line.
- Detail: Persistence of students in eLearning classes needs to be further analyzed. Some eLearning classes actually have higher persistence rates than in person classes. Others do not. There is no process to help “lower persistence” eLearning courses increase their persistence rates. This is partly due to the lack of staff to focus on this issue.
- Solution: Build an eLearning team that develops professional development activities.
ELEARNING COUNCIL PROPOSAL
The eLearning Council (eLC) will serve as the advisory council to the eLearning Director and other administrators on matters related to eLearning at Jefferson Community and Technical College. The eLC will review eLearning courses offered by Jefferson Community and Technical College to establish that those courses do meet basic quality standards. The eLC will be responsible for reviewing two basic sets of courses:
- New courses
- Existing general education courses, specifically gateway courses and highest enrolling general education courses
The eLC will be composed of at least one faculty member from each academic division on each campus of the College. Academic Divisions with more than 10 full-time faculty or who offer more than 10 online course sections may have two representatives.
Each academic division will elect their own representatives to the eLearning Council. The leadership structure will include a Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary elected for two-year terms, with the Vice-Chair moving to Chair after the first term. The initial Chair will be appointed by the Provost. The other leadership positions will be elected by the new Council members and elections would take place every two years after that. The Chair and leadership will be responsible for conducting the review process with input from the eLearning Director (such as course lists, recommended courses for review based on a rotating basis). Quality review training will be provided to the members.
The eLC will meet in each Fall Semester to review the eLearning Quality Improvement Process (eQuIP)
Jefferson Community and Technical College Rubric for Review of Online Courses and to establish the work of the Council for the semester. They may also be called to meet by the eLearning Director as needed to provide advice, approval, or discussion about various issues related to eLearning.
The eLearning Director will compose a list of every fully-online general education course taught by a Jefferson Community and Technical College faculty member. From this list, approximately 15 courses will be selected each year for review. (This would begin with gateway courses as identified by the college and other high enrolling general education courses.) When a course is selected for review, the instructor will be notified that the course will be reviewed during the Spring semester and that any feedback will be made available to the instructor and their department head/division chair by the end of that Spring semester.
For review of new courses being developed:
- Designers of new courses must submit a syllabus and a course outline to their respective Division Chair and Academic Dean prior to the inclusion of any course into the Jefferson Community and Technical College Course Schedule. Division Chairs and/or the Academic Dean have the authority to not submit the course for inclusion into the Jefferson Community and Technical College Course Schedule
- New courses will be reviewed during the first two months of the first semester they appear in the Jefferson Community and Technical College Course Schedule.
- The eLearning Director will choose two reviewers from the eLC (if possible, one in the discipline and one in a related discipline). The eLearning Director will provide them with guest access.
- The reviewers will have time (two weeks) to look at the course independently.
- The reviewers will meet together at a designated time to compare notes, look at the course together and compile one complete Jefferson Community and Technical College Rubric Review form.
For rotation review of existing general education courses:
- The review will begin with gateway courses and then extend to other general education courses with highest levels of enrollment.
- Two reviewers will be assigned to review each course. The eLearning Director will provide them with guest access.
- The reviewers will have time (two weeks) to review the course independently.
- When the eLearning Council meets, the two reviewers will meet together with their notes and look at the class together to compile one complete Jefferson Community and Technical College Rubric Review form.
- Reviewers should be assigned to no more than three courses per year to review.
Review process—additional details
Pairs of reviewers will meet during the official eLC meeting to finalize their reviews together. The eLC meetings will actually be working meetings where the reviewers talk together and make their final decisions so if questions come up they can be addressed with others at that time. eLC meetings should not become only informational reports of what members have already decided. Actually discussing and deciding on the official review comments during the meeting will increase accountability and timeliness of reviews.
Once the review and the Rubric Feedback Form are complete, the eLearning Director will send this information to the course instructor, department head and division chair. This feedback and the resulting improvement steps used to address any feedback will be sent to the appropriate Academic Dean or Campus Director for follow-up. Deans and Division Chairs will determine what is required for follow-up in each individual case. One prescriptive follow-up policy is not the best option because that won’t allow Deans and Division Chairs to assess and determine case by case what the follow up should be. Conducting eLearning student course evaluations will be coordinated through the Office of eLearning. eLC will not review student evaluations of online courses.
PROPOSED PERSONNEL STRUCTURE
I. Director of eLearning
- oversees all operations of the Office of eLearning
- casts a vision for future initiatives and endeavors
- implements and directs those initiatives and endeavors
- supervises staff of the Office of eLearning
- keeps college leadership abreast of eLearning issues and developments
- works directly with DCs, DHs, Campus Directors, and others to assess eLearning needs of college
- works directly with DCs, DHs, Campus Directors, and others to create the online class schedule
- works closely with the eLearning Council (eLC) to facilitate the college’s online quality review process; maintains database of courses that have been reviewed
- spearheads online enrollment management strategies
- prepares a semi-annual revenue plan for Presidential Staff and the President; this plan will include elements of management strategies such as recovering enrollment, projections of needed classes, and a summary of achievements
- serves as Jefferson’s delegate to the KCTCS Distance Learning Peer Team
- monitors online course offerings to ensure effective competition in local, state, and national markets
- works with eL staff to host collaborative eLearning course development sessions on a regular basis
- works with eL staff to publish and maintain the eLearning Policy Manual
II. eLearning Faculty Support Specialist (focus: faculty)
- first line of contact for faculty
- provides training and support to faculty, both online and on-site
- specializes not just in teaching with technology, but in online pedagogy as well
- hosts Blackboard trainings on-site and online each semester
- supervises the proctored Blackboard Proficiency Exams, rotating through campuses
- ensures ALL online faculty are certified; moves faculty through training & certification process
- maintains database of Jefferson faculty certified in Blackboard
- works with faculty to find and develop low/no-cost online course materials
- Utilizes Jefferson Community and Technical College’s eMentors program to extend the reach of training and support on every campus
- works closely with IT to ensure faculty have access to new and needed technologies
- serves as Jefferson’s delegate to the KCTCS Online Innovation Learning Series (KOILS)
III. eLearning Student Support Specialist (focus: students)
- first line of contact for new, current, and potential students
- works closely with director to implement the initiatives of the Office of eLearning
- maintains regular office hours in the physical space of the Office of eLearning
- available for hands-on student support; meets with students in-person as necessary
- assists with online enrollment management strategies
- supports potential, new, and current students
- supports processes of recruiting, admissions, advising, registration, and retention of online students
- develops printed and electronic resources for the above processes
- plans and coordinates in-person orientations for new online students
IV. eLearning Administrative Assistant (clerical, administrative, and programmatic support)
- provides general support to other staff in the Office of eLearning
- maintains regular office hours in the physical space of the Office of eLearning
- assists in on-site trainings of faculty and students
- operates the eLearning Help Desk and the jf-elearning email address
- forwards as appropriate tier 2 support calls from the 24/7 Bb Call Center
- assists with online enrollment management strategies throughout registration seasons
- works closely with the Coordinator of Learning Outcomes to monitor online courses to ensure appropriate learning outcomes and assessments are included
- processes paperwork and documentation for the Office of eLearning
- assists in operation of the FlexTerm program and processes instructor payments each pay period
- ensures eLearning pages of Jefferson Community and Technical College website are updated and accurate.