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.