Keynote_RonLegon_Online Learning and Student Success


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Advocates and practitioners of online education often come together to talk among themselves
To the converted, so to speak
This is a chance to share some of the remarkable developments in online learning with a broader audience
To talk about accomplishments and challenges
Like “global warming” online learning isn’t going away

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  • The report acknowledges that online study has more potential to increase time on task than does face-to-face study. The report acknowledges that there was too little data on any of the techniques or variations to draw solid conclusions.
  • Beat national pass rate in every subject except Economics and History! Beat Florida pass rate in every subject but History!
  • Consider the time and place challenged circumstances of the typical online student. Consider the student taking their first online course - it’s not for everyone. Tools like the Quality Matters Rubric reduce dropout rates by removing obstacles and clarifying the purposes of course activities.
  • Keynote_RonLegon_Online Learning and Student Success

    1. 1. Online Learning and Student Success Ron Legon, PhD Executive Director The Quality Matters Program
    2. 2. Thanks for the Opportunity to Speak to this Audience <ul><li>Advocates and practitioners of online education often come together to talk among themselves </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To the converted, so to speak </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is a chance to share some of the remarkable developments in online learning with a broader audience </li></ul><ul><li>To talk about accomplishments and challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Like “global warming” online learning isn’t going away </li></ul>
    3. 3. The Growth of Online Learning in Higher Education <ul><li>Phenomenal growth over the last decade </li></ul><ul><li>13% growth from 2006 to 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With overall growth at 1.2% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>22% of all students took at least one online course in fall 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>3.9 million students enrolled in online courses in fall 2007 </li></ul>
    4. 4. Growth in Online Enrollment 2002 - 2007 Source: Sloan-C Survey, 2008
    5. 5. Source: “Managing Online Education” (2009) WCET and The Campus Computing Project
    6. 6. 2 Year Institutions Are At The Forefront <ul><li>Growth is accelerating </li></ul><ul><li>Movement from individual courses to full online programs </li></ul>
    7. 7. Community Colleges Offering Online Degree Programs Source: ITC Survey, 2009
    8. 8. Similar Growth in K-12 <ul><li>K-12 got a later start, but is catching up </li></ul><ul><li>75% of school districts report students enrolled in online or blended courses </li></ul><ul><li>More than 1 million K-12 students are taking online and blended courses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>47% increase in two years </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. The Florida Virtual School 1997-2009
    10. 10. Attitudes of Chief Academic Officers <ul><li>Sloan- C annual survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continues to show growth in acceptance every year </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Source: Sloan-C Survey, 2008
    12. 12. Most schools are on the down slope in adoption of online learning
    13. 13. Why is Online Learning So Successful? <ul><li>Fits today’s lifestyle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-tasking students - work, family, school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decline in number of traditional, full-time students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uses current tools of communication </li></ul><ul><li>It works! </li></ul>
    14. 14. Online Learning is Here to Stay <ul><li>Growth trends will continue </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of schools will offer fully online programs </li></ul><ul><li>Most students will take some fully online or blended courses </li></ul><ul><li>Most faculty and almost all new faculty will be expected to teach some online courses </li></ul><ul><li>Online learning is becoming mainstream </li></ul>
    15. 15. What Does ‘Mainstream’ Mean? <ul><li>Online teaching assignments are routine </li></ul><ul><li>Workload differentials disappear </li></ul><ul><li>Class sizes increase to parity with face-to-face </li></ul><ul><li>Special incentives for faculty become rare </li></ul><ul><li>Online course creation no longer seen as experimental </li></ul><ul><ul><li>unless truly innovative </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Platform and software changes taken in stride </li></ul>
    16. 16. ‘ Mainstream’ Does Not Mean… <ul><li>Parity with face-to-face education in funding, tuition & fees, status, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Acceptance by all faculty </li></ul><ul><li>An end to stakeholder skepticism </li></ul><ul><li>Maturity in its Technology and Pedagogy There’s lots of work to be done! </li></ul>
    17. 17. Lingering Skepticism Reflected in the Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) <ul><li>Requires national accrediting agencies to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate their standards for evaluating program quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create review teams that are well trained and knowledgeable regarding distance ed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Requires National Research Council to compare quality of distance education with campus-based courses </li></ul>
    18. 18. Skeptics’ Concerns About Quality <ul><li>Courses are too easy </li></ul><ul><li>Course completion rates are too low </li></ul><ul><li>Cheating is rampant </li></ul><ul><li>Online students are not getting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the discipline of the classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>direct contact with faculty and fellow students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience thinking on their feet </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom line: online learning shortchanges students </li></ul>
    19. 19. Does the Evidence Support the Skeptics? <ul><li>Growing body of research says </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students learn at least as much online or in blended courses as in the classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Early studies suggested “No significant difference” </li></ul><ul><li>Recent studies give the edge to online learning </li></ul>
    20. 20. 2009 DOE Meta-Study <ul><li>Compared 51 studies considered to be valid (44 post-secondary, 7 K-12) </li></ul><ul><li>Major conclusion: Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Astounding progress in a 15 year old medium competing with a 1,000 year old tradition. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Additional Conclusions of DOE Meta-Study <ul><li>The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types. </li></ul><ul><li>Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Further Observations of the DOE Meta-Study <ul><li>Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the variations in the way in which different studies implemented online learning did not affect student learning outcomes significantly. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Florida Virtual School AP Scores 2009 Innosight Institute Study
    24. 24. But What About Completion Rates? <ul><li>ITC Annual Survey Reports in 2006: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completion Rate in online courses = 72% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Completion Rate in face-to-face = 78% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difference = 6% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In 2007: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completion Rate in online courses = 65% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Completion Rate in face-to-face = 72% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difference = 7% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It is a problem, but not a game changer </li></ul>
    25. 25. Is There More Cheating in Online Courses? <ul><li>Not demonstrated </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Cut and Paste’ plagiarism, purchased research papers and other forms of Internet cheating are serious problems </li></ul><ul><li>Widespread occurrence in face-to-face and online settings </li></ul><ul><li>The online setting has better tools to detect it </li></ul>
    26. 26. What About the Supposed Advantages of the Classroom? <ul><li>Students need </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the discipline of the classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>direct contact with faculty and fellow students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to learn to think on their feet </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These benefits of face-to-face are real </li></ul><ul><li>A complete education should include some face-to-face courses - or blended courses </li></ul><ul><li>But online study challenges students in other important ways </li></ul>
    27. 27. Unique Challenges of Online Study <ul><li>Promotes self-discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Develops online communications skills essential in modern life and business </li></ul><ul><li>Expects all students to engage with the material on a regular basis </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages all students to fully develop and share their thoughts on the subject </li></ul>
    28. 28. The Question Remains: How do we build on the early achievements of online learning, assure ongoing advances in quality, and enhance student success?
    29. 29. The Components of Quality in Online Learning <ul><li>Institutional Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are the tools, technology and training for students and faculty in place? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Course Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are courses built and evaluated using research based standards and best practices? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Course Delivery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are faculty trained to implement best practices in teaching their online courses? </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. More Components of Quality <ul><li>Online Support Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can online students conduct their relationship with the school online? (registration, financial aid, counseling, tutoring, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are library collections and services available to online students? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resources and Institutional Commitment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the school leadership willing to commit sufficient resources? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research and Evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are the schools online initiatives under ongoing review? </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Room for Improvement <ul><li>Not all online Courses/programs are of equal quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many courses are still poorly designed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some faculty still do not take their responsibilities to the online student seriously (like some classroom faculty) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some institutions still place unnecessary hurdles in the way of online students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some institutions still do not support a 24 x 7 x 365 online environment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The list goes on … </li></ul>
    32. 32. Source: “Managing Online Education” (2009) WCET and The Campus Computing Project
    33. 33. Source: “Managing Online Education” (2009) WCET and The Campus Computing Project
    34. 34. Source: “Managing Online Education” (2009) WCET and The Campus Computing Project
    35. 35. Online learning advances through communities of practice <ul><li>Sharing what works and what doesn’t </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging in discussions of pedagogy, technology, best practices, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Assuring that each generation of online courses is better than the last, and that </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Sloan Consortium, WCET, ITC, MERLOT, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), TLT, MarylandOnline, Quality Matters, etc. </li></ul>
    36. 36. The Quality Matters Program as a Community of Practice <ul><li>QM’s focus is on improving course design and promoting a peer review process for evaluating it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A 40-standard Rubric </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Richly annotated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on best practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confirmed by research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applicable at every level of higher education </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Over 5,000 faculty and designers trained </li></ul><ul><li>Subscriber network of almost 400 schools </li></ul>
    37. 37. How the Community Grows <ul><li>QM demonstrates that thousands of faculty are ready and willing to open their courses to their colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>QM becomes embedded in the campus culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>QM training as a faculty development activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QM standards integrated with other QA activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spread of informal QM-based reviews of courses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Schools challenge QM to tackle other QA issues in online education </li></ul>
    38. 38. QM and Student Success <ul><li>QM standards are aimed at increasing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student retention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student performance / learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But QM does not speak directly to students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Language of QM speaks to faculty and instructional designers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We hope to change this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students should be informed consumers </li></ul></ul>
    39. 39. Quality Matters’ Online Learner Bill of Rights© <ul><li>Students value the QM standards </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Studies by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rick Aman (College of Western Idaho) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penny Ralston-Berg (Penn State) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ralston-Berg study translates the language of the rubric into statements students would understand </li></ul><ul><li>High Correlation between standards and student’ concerns about online learning </li></ul>
    40. 40. Course Overview and Introduction Ralston-Berg Research Literature and Standards Sets Support for Quality Matters Review Standards as of 12/5/05 © 2006 MarylandOnline, Inc. Students’ Rank Instructions for navigating the course 4.86 Instructor introduces him/herself 4.86 Prerequisite knowledge clearly stated 4.82 Minimum technology requirements stated 4.7 A statement introducing students to the course 4.62 Minimum student skills clearly stated 4.58 Netiquette/etiquette behavior 4.06 Students requested to introduce themselves 3.78
    41. 41. Top 10 Student Countdown Ralston-Berg <ul><li>Grading policy is easy to understand </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback received on work related to course activities </li></ul><ul><li>Required technologies are provided or easily downloaded </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments appropriate for online learning </li></ul><ul><li>Materials are easily accessible and usable by student </li></ul>
    42. 42. Top 10 Student Countdown Ralston-Berg <ul><li>Methods for submitting assignments appropriate for online learning </li></ul><ul><li>Materials are well organized </li></ul><ul><li>Requirements for course interaction clearly articulated </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes are realistic and achievable </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate and easy instructions on how to meet outcomes </li></ul>
    43. 43. Next Steps in Development of Online Learner’s Bill of Rights <ul><li>Further testing of student attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Seek institutional pledges to honor these practices </li></ul><ul><li>E.g., </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Online learners have a right to feedback on their graded assignments?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Online learners have a right to know the purpose of each major assignment” </li></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Summing Up <ul><li>Online learning continues to grow </li></ul><ul><li>Is joining the mainstream of higher ed. </li></ul><ul><li>Quality is remarkably high for a new medium </li></ul><ul><li>But quality improvements are needed to realize the full potential of online learning </li></ul><ul><li>Improvements will come through communities of practice like QM </li></ul><ul><li>Our efforts will focus on student success </li></ul>