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Addressing the question of quality in e learning umass it conference 2008


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Addressing the question of quality in e learning umass it conference 2008

  1. 1. Addressing the Question of Quality in E-Learning Environments Gonzalo Bacigalupe, EdD, MPH Associate Professor & Chair Department of Counseling & School Psychology University of Massachusetts Boston gonzalo.bacigalupe@umb.eduDistance Education Definitions•Instructor and students need not be in the same physical place. (NCES, U.S. DOE)•A formal educational process … the major portion of the instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are not in the same place at the same time through virtually any media. A Distance Learning Program … over half of the required courses in the program occur when the learner and the instructor are not in the same place at the same time. (NCATE GUIDELINES, 2005) 1
  2. 2. ODE Features• Accelerated expansion• Vast majority of new distance programs are offered online with a cohort-based model (as opposed to self-paced) (DOE-OPE, 2006)• Access (flexibility, working students, travel, technical application) is core in mission of institutions offering ODEODE in the U.S. (Sloan Consortium, 2005) 2
  3. 3. Why worry •The days of astonishing growth in ODE may beabout overquality? •Brands based on student outcomes may prove more successful •Faculty, curriculum, and institutional reputation are attributes online learners care about. (Stokes, 2006)Faculty have been proceeding foryears teaching courses, hopingthat they are effectivelypresenting what they themselveshave learned, and that studentsthen are demonstrating that theyhave learned what the facultythink they should be learning.The advent of online learning hasbrought to the fore pressure onus in higher education todemonstrate outcomes in a waythat we have never felt before…(Hamlin,, 2004, p.3)Note for those not teaching online:This is not just in the case of e-learning 3
  4. 4. ODE Defenders Responses • ODE program and courses are of the same caliber as the one on campus • ODE increases access to a more diverse constituency and enhances inclusiveness • ODE offer educational opportunities for all students that may not be possible in campus •…?No significant difference hypothesis•Instructors adopting learning management systems must considerhow students evaluations of learning reflect the overall quality ofinstruction. Traditional course evaluations are used for facultyretention, tenure and promotion decisions, but also provide instructorswith valuable information on the quality of their instruction.•Topper (2007) studied the response rates and compared instructionalquality, using student course evaluations along with additional datafrom online and face-to-face graduate education courses, to evaluatethe effectiveness of instruction. The statistical analysis of courseevaluations showed no significant difference in instructional qualitybased on the format used.•Together with comparisons of student work, these results provideadditional evidence in support of the finding of no significant differencebetween formats in the area of instructional quality.•Topper, (2007). Are they the same? Comparing the instructional quality of online and face-to-face graduate education courses. . Assessment & Evaluationin Higher Education 32 (6), 681-691. 4
  5. 5. CaveatQuality is subject to interpretation 5
  6. 6. Measuring• Everyone involved in online learning would agree that quality is paramount; however, objectively measuring quality is difficult and infrequently undertaken.• Quality is an unstated expectation, yet we rarely use a formal process for assessing quality of training products.• Poor design, project under funding, overly optimistic schedules, and technical barriers are all enemies of quality.• A methodical approach to evaluation can help remove subjective biases and achieve a more authoritative analysis. • (WBTIC, 1994-2007) Learning styles“Educatorsmust do morethan provideaccess toinformation”(Campbell,1998, p.vii). 6
  7. 7. Sloan (Moore, 2005)Sloan 7
  8. 8. ScorecardQuestions by Accreditation Body: Example Unit Accreditation Board = UAB 8
  9. 9. Red Flags ODE Curriculum approval differs from F2F Large numbers of students in DE courses Target population needs are not addressed Single method of assessment Students’ dissatisfaction Red Flags  Unclear course objectives  Cookie cutter approach to course development  Very little board/threaded/lively discussion  Lack of substance and reflexivity of students’ postings  Rapid turnover in DOE adjunct faculty teaching  No regular update of courses 9
  10. 10. Best Practices Principles• Communicate clearly your expectations • Timely submissions • Prompt feedback • brief assignments, and/or • accumulative scaffolding • High expectations for students• Encourage faculty-student contact Best Practices Principles • Stimulate student collaboration and cooperation • Uncover students’ knowledge and skills • Different learning styles • Resources for teaching and peer tutoring • Make the course your “brand” • Share the outcome (OCW) be accountable 10
  11. 11. NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (NEA)Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education• Institutional Support Benchmarks • Technology plan to ensure information integrity • Reliable technology system and centralized support system• Course Development Benchmarks • Guidelines for minimum standards are used for course development, design, and delivery, while learning outcomes determine the technology being used to deliver course content. • Instructional materials reviewed periodically to meet program standards • Courses design requires students to engage themselves in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation as part of their course and program requirements NEA Benchmarks for Success in Online Distance Education• Technology/Learning • Student-faculty and student interaction is essential • Feedback is timely and constructive • Students learn about proper methods of effective research• Course Structure • Students are advised before program start to determine self-motivation and commitment to distance learning and to assess technology access • Course information for students is exhaustive (i.e., syllabus) • Students have access to sufficient library resources • Clear expectations about assignment completion 11
  12. 12. NEA Benchmarks for Success in Online Distance Education•Student Support•Students receive information about requirements, tuition and fees, student support, etc. Hands on training is available to students to secure digital information•Faculty Support •Course development technical assistance •Support in transition from classroom to online •Permanent training and peer mentoring•Evaluation and Assessment •Multi-method of assessment and specific standards to assess effectiveness and teaching/learning process •Data on enrollment, costs, and successful/innovative use of technology are used to evaluate program effectiveness •Intended learning outcomes are reviewed regularlySome best practices at UMB • Instructor and designer have been the same • Curriculum is approved by faculty governance • Multiple technologies are employed in delivery of online and hybrid courses • Some programs have acquired a rich experience in the use of synchronous modalities • Wide variety of disciplines and programs have developed ODE offerings 12
  13. 13. What needs improvement?• System wide decision-making may have hindered the ability of campus to innovate and adopt appropriate resources• Technology resources/support for hybrid and on campus courses are not comparable with ODL -> Pace of technology adoption may slow down and hurt ability to mainstreaming use across classrooms• Resources for assessment, evaluation, and research have not accompanied allocation of resources for course developmentODE Quality: Emerging Questions• Do synchronous versus asynchronous venues impact access?• What criteria should we employ to measure adequate instructor’s availability?• How can faculty and students successfully manage the potential of social networking tools?• Does ODE increases/enhances access of marginalized groups or foster the status quo?• Is ODE generative of knowledge creation, quality scholarship, collaboration, community service, etc.)? 13
  14. 14. Useful Resources • The Sloan Consortium Effective Practices Quality Framework • ADEC Guiding Principles for Distance Teaching and Learning teaching_principles.html • EFA Global Monitoring Report URL_ID=35939&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html • How effective is distance education? An AskEric Response bin/printresponses.cgi/Virtual/Qa/archives/Educational_Technology/Distance_Education/disted.html • UMASS Information Technology Council • Quality Principles University of Wisconsin-Madison • ESAC Faculty Development, Quality Matters: Inter-Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning • National Standards of Quality for Online Courses • What Constitutes Quality in Web-Based Training? • My e-learning links at delicious • REFERENCES: In development, please email me for a copy in a couple of weeks. • 14