Monday, December 10, 2012

10 Questions Organizations Need to Ask Themselves When Considering eLearning

  1. Management: Who will be responsible for providing the leadership of developing an online program? The person or department in this role will be responsible for everything from planning to instructional design to implementation.
  2. Institutional Readiness: How will management determine whether or not the organization is ready to fully support an eLearning program? An assessment must be conduction to determine if the organization has the resources it needs to support eLearning and if it doesn’t, is it ready to acquire them.
  3. Cost: What factors should be considered when calculating the cost of eLearning? Organizations must consider both direct and indirect cost of designing and maintaining an online learning program.
  4. Funding: How will the organization fund the eLearning program? There are several routes an organization can take to fund eLearning from partnerships with other institutions or with private sector companies to reallocating funds from other programs.
  5. Content Development: How will new learning technologies be created? It’s important to determine whether instructional tools will be designed in- house or bought off the shelf.
  6. Technology: How will the organization handle the technological infrastructure of the program ensuring that the program is user friendly and sustainable?
  7. Technological Support: Is there an IT department that is able to assist faculty and students with questions regarding technology? If not how with this issue be addressed?
  8. Student Support: Where will students be able to find out information about program requirements, counseling, financial aid, or tech support? Student support services are essential to a student’s ability to perform well in an online course.
  9. Faculty Support: How will the organization handle the training and development of faculty member to ensure that they are capable of using new learning technologies?
  10. Evaluation: How will the organization approach program evaluations to ensure that the course meets the needs of all stakeholders, such as students, faculty, and support staff?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Learner Support

Thorpe claims that learner support “is essentially about roles, structures and environments, and therefore: support roles and supportive people, together with support structures and supportive environments” (Thorpe, 2002). Students must have service support in terms of registering for class and handling financial aid as well as support on how to be successful in the classroom and each learner requires their own unique support. I think that Thorpe’s claims are still relevant for today’s online learners.
About 6 years ago, I took an online summer course at small community college. Since I was a full time student at another institution, I was not familiar with the college just that it was convenient for me to take the course there instead of at my university. There was no orientation program set up for new online students and so I did not know where to access information about campus deadlines, financial aid, or advising. Also, the course that I took was an “off the shelf” course that was not customized to program and so I watched videos and took exams. There was not interaction between the professor running the course and the students, or between the students, other than to report grades and announce exams. Reflecting upon this experience and the article, I think that it is truly essential to have synchronous and asynchronous courses because  the support that students receive from their professor and classmates play a major role in that students ability to be successful in the course.
I have recently revisited the community college’s online learning website and I can tell that how over the past 6 years they have made drastic changes to learner support. The website has links for technology usage training, frequently asked questions, how to get in contact with an advisor, etc. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Funding Options for eLearning Programs

Since my professional aspirations are to working in the Training and Development department of a private company, my response to the Week 7 blog question will focus on funding options for private sector companies. The two funding options discussed in the chapter 7 of Bates book titled “Funding Strategies, Collaboration, and Competition,” are reallocating funds and partnering with public sector organizations. Both options I believe are low cost methods to funding eLearning for employees.
Since private sector companies do not have the option of getting funding from government resources, they must fund eLearning programs using internal resources. Therefore, the company will either have the find ways to raise the money or allocate resources the company already has. According to Bates, “making a strategic commitment to the use of technology for teaching with no external or additional resources to pay for such changes, must prepared to consider closing program and activities that are costly and relatively ineffective in order to pay for the new investment” (Bates, 2000).
Another option that I think has the potential to be a very low cost method of providing eLearning opportunities for employees would be to partner with a college or university. Instead of footing the bill for developing an online program, the company could develop a partnership with a college or universities where in exchange for discounted tuition; employees would take online courses paid for by the company. I think that this would be very efficient, because employees could opt to take online course that would not interfere or take away from their regular work day. Again this type of training would have to be optional because it would mean that employees are spending additional hours outside of work to receive training. The incentive would have to be a free course that offers college credit to get buy in from employees. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

eLearning Models

I think the Lone Ranger Model is good for small projects that are more for exploration of possible approaches to eLearning programs and not long term usage. As stated in the Bates text, often times the Lone Ranger approach results in a never ending project that doesn't have longevity. Usually professors prefer this approach because they are able to self- govern the project progress and make decisions they see fit. The exact opposite of the Lone Ranger Model is the Project Management Approach which is characterized by multiple individuals utilizing their areas of expertise to create one program or one course. Bates believes that this approach yield “high quality cost effective technology based teaching and learning” (Bates pg. 66). Finally, Kahns P3 Model divides the development of eLearning courses/programs into 3 phases; People, Process, and Products. I think that this model is a more intricate model of the Project Management Approach where several special teams or subject matter experts are in charge of one part of one project.
In my role as the Graduate Assistant for Career Services Paraprofessionals at The Career Center, I provide leadership for 25 undergraduate employees, which includes conducting their annual training.  Because the service provided by the Career Services Paraprofessionals involve face to face interactions with students across campus, I would not be logical to teach them how to conduct resume and cover letter reviews session via eLearning. However, if this were an option I were going to explore, I think the Lone Ranger approach would best because of the uniqueness of the paraprofessional program.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Visioning and Planning for eLearning Programs

In today’s society, there is perceived inferiority of online programs the quality of educations students participating in such programs receive.  It is because of this perception that it is essential to have a clear vision to prove the value of eLearning programs and gain buy-in from key stakeholders. Visioning is the key to addressing important issues, such as the cost of the program, policies & procedures, and compensation for faculty. If these issues are not addressed it can be detrimental to the longevity of the online program. In terms of visioning versus planning, I do agree with Bates that having a clear and defined vision is more important than the planning. It is from the visioning process that departmental or institutional leaders are able to define objectives and goals that the department or university should be working towards. Planning would not be successful, in my opinion, if there is no clear end to work towards. The aspect of leadership and vision that stayed with me after reading chapter 2 of the Bates book again is that it is essential to have buy-in from faculty and staff in order for technological visions to be realized. As Bates stated, often time’s staff and especially faculty view changes that drastically affect their work as a threat. To offset this, the leaders must prove to faculty and staff the changes will actually enhance their work.

Monday, October 15, 2012

eLearning Management: Through Lexi’s Eyes

Novak. (2012, April 26). Eyes Wallpaper. 
Retrieved from Pictures Collections:

eLearning management is the act of ensuring that a eLearning program is appealing to all stakeholders. When I worked as a Training Specialist for an organization, I trained undergraduate college students to be telemarketers. For those who don’t know, telemarketing is probably at the top of the list of most boring jobs and the training program was even worse! I was tasked with revamping the training program to improve the rapport building skills of the telemarketers. In order to be successful I had to ensure that I provided management with evidence of progress and ensure that resources were used as efficiently as possible, I had to ensure that my fellow training specialist were comfortable using the new training tools and techniques, and finally I had to ensure that the content was engaging to the audience and improved their skills. All of these factors are essential to managing the development and implementation of any training course whether it is through face to face instruction or through eLearning.