Community College OnlineClass Size Optimization:Current Research and Findings  Josh Murdock      @professorjosh  Lisa Maco...
Poll the Audience• What do you think is the optimal class size for an online  class?  •   10  •   15  •   20  •   25  •   ...
Primary Sources• Instructional Technology Council  survey March 2012.• Our own observations as  instructional designer and...
What is the ITC?• Consortium of  community colleges  offering distance learning  courses• Has been surveying  member insti...
The Game –                          Tug of War• Pressure from administration for faculty to maximize  class size to increa...
Preliminary Conclusions:Class Size• Ideal class size ranges from 12-30 (median of about 25)• Numbers differ by discipline ...
Preliminary Findings :Compensation• The majority of institutions compensate faculty  for teaching more students than the e...
Example• Valencia College  •   Course caps set individually by campus and division  •   Average = 25 (min = 20, max = 40) ...
Example• Northern Virginia Community College • Tutorial Instructional Model Approach    • 50-100 students per class with h...
Example• Ottawa University Online  • Maximum enrollment of 20 students per class  • Instructors are required to respond wi...
Example• Buffalo State Online Graduate Program  • Faculty receive a stipend to develop an online course  • Faculty spend a...
Example• New Jersey Institute of Technology  • 40 to 60 students per online class  • Apply 6 “management principles”     •...
Conclusions• Online classes do not  improve efficiency in  class size• Online classes do  improve access• Online classes d...
Recommendations to MaximizeClass Size• Faculty training  • Study models that work• Compensation for design  • Initial inve...
Questions?
Contact Information• Lisa Macon, Ph.D.  • Email: Lmacon@valenciacollege.edu  • LinkedIn: Lisa (Fischer) Macon, PhD  • Twit...
References• 2011 Distance Education Survey Results,  Instructional Technology Council, March 2012.• “The Upper Limit: The ...
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Community College Online Class Size Optimization: Current Research and Findings

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With the increasing demands for online classes as well as cost-cutting measures, many institutions look at raising online course caps. How might this impact learning?

In our community college, there is an increasing demand not only for online courses, but for online programs. At the same time that we are struggling with quality assurance of our online educational experiences, we battle with state funding limitations. Put these two factors together and the natural questions emerge: Could focusing efforts on offering larger online classes solve our problems? How might larger online classes impact learning? We will present preliminary findings based on existing research, interviews with staff at peer colleges, surveys of division deans, and both formal and informal discussions with online faculty and staff. Data will be drawn from multiple resources including the Instructional Technology Council, blogs about online course sizes, current literature, and social networking sites. Session Goals: After the session, each participant will be able to 1. Identify important factors that should be considered when choosing caps for online courses. 2. Locate and utilize resources to further the study of online class size optimization.

Presented at the Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning 2012 in Orlando, FL

Published in: Education
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Community College Online Class Size Optimization: Current Research and Findings

  1. 1. Community College OnlineClass Size Optimization:Current Research and Findings Josh Murdock @professorjosh Lisa Macon Ph.D. @lisamacon Valencia College
  2. 2. Poll the Audience• What do you think is the optimal class size for an online class? • 10 • 15 • 20 • 25 • 30 • > 30
  3. 3. Primary Sources• Instructional Technology Council survey March 2012.• Our own observations as instructional designer and faculty member• Conversations with colleagues at our own and other institutions• Focus on issues of class size and as a secondary issue, compensation
  4. 4. What is the ITC?• Consortium of community colleges offering distance learning courses• Has been surveying member institutions since 2004
  5. 5. The Game – Tug of War• Pressure from administration for faculty to maximize class size to increase efficiency (profitability)• Faculty pressure to safeguard demands on their time as well as quality of the educational experience for students
  6. 6. Preliminary Conclusions:Class Size• Ideal class size ranges from 12-30 (median of about 25)• Numbers differ by discipline • Introductory Math: 27 students • Introductory English Comp: 25 • Introductory Political Science: 30 • What is your discipline?
  7. 7. Preliminary Findings :Compensation• The majority of institutions compensate faculty for teaching more students than the established cap or limit• The majority of faculty teaching do not receive additional compensation simply for teaching online classes• Course development compensation varies greatly by institution
  8. 8. Example• Valencia College • Course caps set individually by campus and division • Average = 25 (min = 20, max = 40) • Larger courses are team taught • Faculty may not combine sections of the same course • In general, no compensation for development
  9. 9. Example• Northern Virginia Community College • Tutorial Instructional Model Approach • 50-100 students per class with high success rate • Learner-instructor interaction is built into content – not contrived using discussions • Additional interaction is optional
  10. 10. Example• Ottawa University Online • Maximum enrollment of 20 students per class • Instructors are required to respond within 48 hours • Instructors are expected to be in the course on weekends • Tougher schedule than ground instructors • Small increase in compensation
  11. 11. Example• Buffalo State Online Graduate Program • Faculty receive a stipend to develop an online course • Faculty spend additional hours teaching online • Expectation that communication is not constrained by time as it is in classroom sections
  12. 12. Example• New Jersey Institute of Technology • 40 to 60 students per online class • Apply 6 “management principles” • Information organization and retrieval • Set and enforce guidelines • Promote active collaboration and socialization • Knowledge sharing • Encourage student-to-student feedback • Require participation
  13. 13. Conclusions• Online classes do not improve efficiency in class size• Online classes do improve access• Online classes do improve efficiency of facilities usage
  14. 14. Recommendations to MaximizeClass Size• Faculty training • Study models that work• Compensation for design • Initial investment can lead to greater efficiency• Collaboration/consistency in scheduling
  15. 15. Questions?
  16. 16. Contact Information• Lisa Macon, Ph.D. • Email: Lmacon@valenciacollege.edu • LinkedIn: Lisa (Fischer) Macon, PhD • Twitter: @lisamacon• Josh Murdock • Email: jmurdock3@valenciacollege.edu • LinkedIn: Joshua Murdock • Twitter: @professorjosh
  17. 17. References• 2011 Distance Education Survey Results, Instructional Technology Council, March 2012.• “The Upper Limit: The Issues for Faculty in Setting Class Size in Online Courses”, Colwell and Jenks.• “Class Size and Interaction in Online Courses”, Orellana and Anymir.• Sener Knowledge Online Learning Blogs

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