For faculty, time spent in developing, delivering and assessing distance learning courses is time not spent on other professional activities, including research, writing, and service, which may be needed to be successful in the tenure process.
Consistency in virtual learning spaces
Sloan-C 6th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online LearningConsistency in Virtual Learning Spaces: Impact of using a Course Template on Teaching and Learning Mrs. Shawndra T. Bowers, eLearning Coordinator Dr. Agnes Helen Bellel, Director of Distance Education and Off-Campus Sites
The History of Distance Education at Alabama State University Comprehensive regional institution with over 50 graduate and undergraduate programs Considering online degree programs for the over a decade Established a distance education committee – almost ten years ago to… • “come up with some guidelines and some recommendations on what we needed to do for distance education” • review and approve the syllabi of faculty who want to implement an online course.
DE Committee Recommendations December 2002 Establish Academic Computing Director Adopt Learning Management System (Blackboard) Develop Online Course Approval Process • Quality Matters Standards • Seven Principals of Quality Instruction Provide Faculty Training • 4-week Online Teaching Certification training • NEW: Expanded to 6-weeks to include development & delivery • NEW: Added 3-week Online Evaluator Training
The History of Distance Education at Alabama State University Over 100 courses offered each semester – undergraduate and graduate Institutional goal is to have 2 fully online programs in each academic unit by 2014 Current online degree programs: • Marketing (Bachelor) • Computer Science (Bachelor) • Library Education Media (Master) • Applied Technology (Master) • Physical Therapy (Doctorate)
Statistics on Distance Education Courses and FacultyFall 2012 Courses: Spring 2013 Courses:• Undergraduate • Undergraduate o Online: 54 o Online: 47 o Hybrid: 21 o Hybrid: 30*All but 19 core curriculum courses • Graduate• Graduate o Online: 37 o Online: 37 o Hybrid: 8 o Hybrid: 9 • Certified Faculty: 113• Certified Faculty: 98 **Another 20 in the spring cohorts
Literature Review:Instructional Design in Distance Education
Literature about Instructional Design: Online Instruction“Being a good teacher means that in addition to being a goodeducator you have to be a good organizer and designer ofinformation, communication, didactical implementation andmedia integration.” (Barajas & Owen, 2000, p. 42). Online instruction is a labor-intensive process Approximately 64% of faculty it takes more effort to teach Nearly 85% believe it takes more effort to develop online courses (Seaman, 2009; Nkonge & Gueldenzoph, 2006; Gerlich, 2005; Lao & Gonzales, 2005; Sellani & Harrington, 2002; McCarthy & Samors, 2009).
Literature about Instructional Design: Definition Instructional design is defined as the “systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities, and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities” (Srinivas, 2009).
Literature about Instructional Design: Virtual Learning Environments The development of instructionally effective virtual learning environments that meet pedagogical needs require the application of appropriate instructional design principles. The literature suggests that there are gaps between the bodies of knowledge relating to learning theories, instructional design principles and student learning in higher education (Siragusa, Dixon & Dixon, 2007).
Paradigm Shift in Online Education Constructivist Principles Knowledge Transfer (Barajas & Owen, 2000)
Literature about Instructional Design: Course Structure Standardized layout, design, arrangement of materials, location of information and use communication tools to enhance and facilitate learning and course navigation and ambiance (Lee, Dickerson & Winslow, 2012) Especially meaningful in online courses, due to the need for self-direction by students and a natural unfamiliarity and/or inexperience many learners have with online learning environments
Literature on Instructional Design: Course Structure“The structure of an online course, including thenavigational interface, visual design of materials andinformation, as well as the communication tools tofacilitate learning, can affectstudents, instructors, programs and educationalorganization” (Lee, Dickerson & Winslow, 2012).
Literature about Instructional Design: Seven Principles for Good PracticeChickering and Ehrmann considered the application of communicationtechnologies to Chickering and Gamson’s seminal 1987 Seven Principles forGood Practice in Undergraduate EducationEventually a rubric was developed based on national standards of bestpractices in distance education with eight general standards identified(Shattuck, 2007) :1. course overview and introduction2. learning objectives (competencies)3. assessment and measurement4. learning resources and materials5. learner interaction6. course technology7. learner support8. accessibility
Literature about Instructional Design: Organizational Approaches Three organizational approaches to online course structures (Lee, Dickerson & Winslow, 2012): Fully Autonomous Approach Basic Guidelines Approach Highly Specified Approach All have their benefits and drawbacks as it related to student and faculty satisfaction, quality, and cost controls.
Literature about Instructional Design: Mistakes“Inattention to the educational issues, can result in meretransposition of traditional teaching approaches to the computer,and result in a poor learning experience which is ineffective”(Stiles, 2000).Some of the most serious errors in course design have included: Failure to engage the learner Mistaking "interactivity" for engagement Focusing on content rather than outcomes Mirroring traditional didactic approaches on the technology Failure to recognize the social nature of learning
Literature about Instructional Design: Student EngagementIn online courses, interaction can occur in three ways:• Students interacting with course content• Students interacting with one another• Students interacting with the instructorIt is a good practice to intentionally design for allthree of these types of interactions to occur in onlinecourses.
Rationale for a Course Template for FacultyThe online course design template models a consistent, easy to followcourse structure based on the principle of alignment in instructionaldesign.The use of a course template should help faculty -- most of whom have nothad formal or extensive training on instructional design theories -- spendless time on determining the most effective layout of course materials.It supports faculty by allowing them to focus their creativity on producinghigh-quality course content instead of worrying about online course design.The online course design template provides scale by reducing faculty coursedesign/development workload; thereby providing online faculty the abilityfor improved engagement and interaction with more students.
Rationale for a Course Template for StudentsConsistency across courses enables students to quickly familiarizethemselves with the layout and course navigation from one courseto the next so that they can focus on the content learning.A template supports students by providing a clear, consistent andcoherent learning environment that includes specific aspects andresources that help reduce anxiety, confusion and feelings ofisolation of online learners.Student satisfaction and higher retention result from a logical,consistent course design that allows them to focus on coursecontent and interact with their instructor (Burgess, Barth & Merserau,2012).
Rationale for a Course Template for the Institution“Lastly, if organizations move forward into large-scale online course delivery without an operationalphilosophy of online course structure, they run therisk of having inconsistent course and programquality, yielding diminished student learning andnegative reputations for the program and faculty”(Lee, Dickerson & Winslow, 2012).
Pilot Implementation of the Online Course TemplateBegan Spring 2013Template pre-loaded into all “online” courses Provided faculty the opportunity to start building online courses in the new format and offer feedback on the course structure -- what works and does not work well for online students.Optional training sessions provided on how to use and modifythe templateeLearning Community created in BlackBoard for faculty FORUMS: “Technical Q&A” and “Course Design & Delivery” Online Journals for feedback (thoughts and experiences)Online Student Survey
Essential Components for Online CoursesThe ten components identified derived from research on distance education(Ausburn, 2004; Boettcher & Conrad, 2010; Draves, 2007; Garrison & Anderson, 2003;Hanna, Glowacki-Dudck, & Conceicao-Runlee, 2000; Jiang & Ting, 2000; Lee, Dickerson &Winslow, 2012; Stein, 2004): 1. Announcements 2. Course Information 3. Instructor Information 4. Course Modules 5. Discussions 6. Submissions 7. Assessments 8. Grades 9. Send Email 10. Course Support
ASU Online Course Template Quality online courses are well-organized and easy to navigate. Uniform design should improve interaction between the faculty, student, and content by providing ease of navigation and improvements to time management for learners. Faculty are provided with a highly structured navigation menu which can be expanded to meet individual course needs.
ASU Online Course Template An easy way to organize course units or modules. Courses that are separated into self-contained segments (modules) are easily discernible to students of varying learning styles and can be used to assess student mastery before moving forward in the course or program (NEA, 2000).
ASU Online Course TemplateWhen presenting course materialsonline, breaking them into small,manageable units or modulesincreases student awareness of theconceptual structure of each unitand also allows for greater flexibilityin pacing their learning (Johnson,2003).Modules should include all readingassignments, lecture materials,supporting websites or activities,links to discussion board threads,assignments instructions, etc.
Commentary from Faculty: QuestionsIs your online course an undergraduate or graduate level course?Is your online course a synchronous or asynchronous? Describe.Are you building your online course using the template provided? If not, pleaseexplain.Describe your experience so far with uploading content and/or providinginstruction within the template structure.How have students responded to the layout so far? What feedback have theygiven you?What online tools have you used to encourage students to interact with youand with one another within the course?How does the amount of time it takes you to develop this online course usingthe new template compare to the FIRST time you had to initially develop anonline course? What has been the difference between the two experiences?What do you like about the template? What do you dislike about thetemplate? Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
Commentary from Faculty: PositiveMost adjuncts and full time faculty reflected they had a positiveexperience and more effective in using the template.The template forces faculty to be organize in putting content ina structure format for delivery of instructionStudents appeared to enjoy the formatTools used to enhance the teaching and learning were Skype andGoogle Hangout to gain more face-to face interaction withstudentsCollaboration (Virtual Office, Chat is good)Some faculty liked the standard “Start Here”, “TechnologyInfo”, “Help Links”
Commentary from Faculty NegativeAccording to some faculty, some students had problemsand felt overwhelmed/frustration in navigating thetemplate. They were not aware that the “LearningModules” were the same as “Assignments” in theirprevious online template of Blackboard.Some faculty felt it was too much “clicking” for thestudents to navigateDeleting items as headers such as “topics” is cumbersomeAcademic Freedom and Intellectual Property
Commentary from Faculty NegativeTemplate should have been discussed at the Distance EducationCommittee before it was forced on faculty to use. The DistanceEducation Committee should have been the clearing house for thetemplate.Faculty was concerned that they did not have enough time toplan, design/develop the course and may reflect in the course evaluationfrom students. A poor evaluation from students on planning, designing/developmentof the course could have an impact on tenure and promotion for faculty.Virtual Classroom does not work well- Functions needs to improve.Need more memory to upload videos, therefore, I created a webpage toshare videos with my students.Arrows and color in the banner need to be changed within BlackBoard.“A Lot of Work” -- “Time” issue of rebuilding content within the newformat rather than copying from a previous course.
Student Survey Google Form (all students have an ASU Google account) link emailed from within online courses: Demographic Information Technology Use Comparison of Formats Course Experiences Course Satisfaction
Student ResponsesAverage time spent using a computer/Internetper day: 5.625Average time spent using a computer/Internetfor education per day: 3.206Average time spent on virtual course per day:1.9375
Student Responses: In comparison to a traditional face-to-face class, in this virtual course… Increased Somewhat No Somewhat Decreased Increased Difference Decreasedthe amount of interaction with other students 6.25% 18.75% 31.25% 25% 18.75% the quality of interaction with other students 6.25% 18.75% 50% 25% -- the amount of interaction with the instructor 18.75% 25% 43.75% 6.25% 6.25% the quality of interaction with the instructor 31.25% 6.25% 56.25% -- 6.25%my motivation to participate in class activities 12.5% 43.75% 31.23% 6.25% 6.25% I understood what was expected of me 37.5% 18.75% 43.75% -- --I was able to find information and instructions 37.5% 25% 37.5% -- -- the amount of time I spent working on 25% 43.75% 25% 6.25% -- courseworkthe quantity of learning that took place for me 31.25% 6.25% 62.25% -- -- the quality of my learning experience 31.25% 12.5% 50% 6.25% --
Student Responses: How would you rate the tools used in the virtual course to your success? Not Used Somewhat Importance Very Critical Important Important Announcements 6.25% -- 6.25% 31.25% 56.25% Learning Modules -- 6.25% 6.25% 18.75% 68.75% Discussion Boards -- 12.5% 43.75% 12.5% 31.25% Collaboration Tools 25% 12.5% 12.5% 31.25% 18.75% Blogs 31.25% 12.5% 25% 12.5% 18.75% Wikis 37.5% 6.25% 18.75% 25% 12.5% Video or audio lectures 12.5% 6.25% 12.5% 31.25% 37.5% Quizzes and Exams -- 6.25% 18.75% 6.25% 68.75% Virtual Office Hours 25% 6.25% 12.5% 12.5% 43.75%Wimba Virtual Classroom 50% 12.5% 6.25% 12.5% 18.75%
Student Responses: Strongly Disagree Agree Strongly Disagree AgreeThe virtual course in BlackBoard was easy to navigate. -- 6.25% 56.25% 37.5%It was easy for me to use technology to participate in -- 18.75% 25% 56.25% the course. The virtual course allowed for social interaction. -- 12.5% 50% 37.5% The virtual course provided a reliable means of -- -- 62.5% 37.5% communication.I felt I learned a great deal about the subject matter in -- -- 43.75% 56.25% the virtual course. The virtual course provided an experience similar to 6.25% 25% 31.25% 37.5% the classroom. The virtual course was what I expected. 6.25% 6.25% 43.75% 43.75% My overall educational experience was good in the -- -- 43.75% 56.25% virtual course. I felt successful in the virtual course. -- -- 50% 50% I would take another virtual course if offered. -- -- 43.75% 56.25%
Student ResponsesWhat aspect of the virtual course mostcontributed to your success? Communication between student and instructor Work on own time with a deadline Ability to return to archived material Convenience – saving time and gas expense Coursework around work and family schedule Access to study guides, test and quizzes Learning modules, assignments and group discussions Interact with classmates via audio
Student ResponsesWhat aspect of the virtual course was mostproblematic? Bad links and unclear instructions Knowing what the instructor wanted Technical difficulties with Wimba Internet connectivity Archives not working Presenting synchronously
Student ResponsesWhat suggestions do you have for improvingvirtual courses offered at the university? Instructors not giving timely feedback Scheduling at least one face-to-face meeting during the semester Shorter Wimba sessions Wima on tablet or smartphone Use BlackBoard more Design certain for virtual courses that all professors may use Offer more virtual courses
Conclusions“Short Amount of Time” was an issue for facultylearning that they had to use the template withoutnoticeIt appears that navigation was an issue for faculty, butnot necessarily for the students.Once understanding the organized format was apositive experience for most of the students andfaculty.
Where Do We Go From Here?Establish a Distance Education Office with supportstaff with a focus on fidelity and quality control Instructional Designer – assist faculty in the development of high quality course development Instructional Technology Specialist – assist faculty with the creation and/or integration of high quality multimedia and instructional activitiesIncorporate feedback into template improvementProvide more intensive training for facultyProvide more development time for faculty
Associate VP of Academic Computing Director ofDirector of Online Director of Campus Instructional Support Education Technologies Services Online Enrollment Microcomputer System Integration Specialists Specialists Specialist 2 Positions – Grad and Undergrad Online Academic LMS administrator Advisors 2 Positions – Grad and Undergrad Instructional Instructional Technology Specialist Designer Technical Support College Liaisons Specialist Faculty appointments in each college – 2 course reduction