University of Connecticut Online Education Task Force. Vision, Goals and Recommendations. Final Report

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1 University of Connecticut Online Education Task Force Vision, Goals and Recommendations Final Report June 16,

2 Executive Summary Charge, Vision Statement, Goals and Recommendations On December 11, 2008, Provost Peter Nicholls established the Online Education Task Force to research and report on the status, methods, and potential of online education at the University of Connecticut. The Task Force included the following members of the faculty and staff representing schools, colleges, administrative and support services and regional campuses. Doug Cooper (Task Force Chair), Professor, School of Engineering Desmond McCaffrey (Task Force Chair), Director, Instructional Design and Development Thomas Agresta, Associate Clinical Professor, University Health Center William Berentsen, Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Tom Bloom, Director, Student Affairs Information Technology Pam Bramble, Associate Professor, School of Fine Arts Kathleen Dechant, Professor in Residence, School of Business Lauren Dechant, Program Coordinator, Technology Services Group, Stamford Campus Francine DeFranco, Director for Library Research Services, University Libraries Kelly Dennis, Assistant Professor, School of Fine Arts Art Engler, Associate Professor, School of Nursing Cameron Faustman, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Jill Fitzgerald, Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Pharmacy Doug Hamilton, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Arthur Hand, Professor, University Health Center Jim Henkel, Associate Vice Provost, Graduate School Peter Kochenburger, Director of Graduate Programs and Assistant Clinical Professor, Law School Susan Lyons, Director of Academic Services, Avery Point Campus Adrienne Macki, Assistant Professor, School of Fine Arts Daniel Mercier, Assistant Director, Institute for Teaching and Learning Yanko Michea, Director, Faculty Instructional Technology Services, University Health Center Susan Nesbitt, Director, Center for Continuing Studies Cheryl Parks, Associate Professor, School of Social Work Andy Rosman, Associate Professor and Executive Director of Online Education, School of Business Del Siegle, Associate Professor, Neag School of Education Gillian Thorne, Director, Early College Experience Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith, University Registrar 2

3 The Provost charged the Task Force with analyzing and reporting on the promise of online education with particular attention given to developing and documenting a roadmap forward for the University of Connecticut. The Task Force approached this charge by formulating the following vision statement: The University of Connecticut must develop and deliver online courses and programs that will be perceived and acknowledged as offering superlative online education. UConn will become the benchmark against which other peer and aspirant universities compare themselves. The Task Force members agree that the following recommendations must be met if UConn is to be successful in expanding online education with the quality ascribed to a world class university. The specific recommendations are: Goal I. Ensuring the Quality of Online Course Offerings Recommendation 1: Develop University standards for quality in online education Recommendation 2: Increase the availability of instructional design to support University standards for all online courses Recommendation 3: Implement a standard baseline course evaluation model within the instructional design process for the purpose of ongoing course improvement Recommendation 4: Work with OIR and other appropriate groups to supplement teaching evaluation instruments with items that address the unique nature of online courses Goal IIa. Supporting Faculty Needs Related to Online Education Recommendation 5: Implement a University-wide faculty development model of instructional design that would encourage more faculty to explore online education, provide quality goals, and enhance faculty creativity and flexibility when teaching in this environment. Recommendation 6: Integrate and expand faculty support services to meet University-wide faculty technology and pedagogy requirements Recommendation 7: Create new faculty support services in areas identified as critical to the quality of online education Recommendation 8: Explicitly recognize issues of intellectual property in online courses Recommendation 9: Revise existing policies and implement new policies to address issues related to recognition, compensation, and PTR in online education Goal IIb. Supporting Student Needs Related to Online Education Recommendation 10: Provide online students with appropriate academic and technical resources and support Recommendation 11: Create a web portal as a single point of access for potential and existing online students seeking information and services 3

4 Goal III. Pursuing Online Offerings that Most Benefit the University Recommendation 12: Develop a comprehensive business plan for the expansion of online education at the University of Connecticut Recommendation 13: Create processes to implement the business plan The Task Force met 11 times since its formation and had presentations from 12 members and guests on various aspects and issues regarding the methods and practices relevant to online education. The Task Force also conducted detailed surveys of the university faculty and student body. The information and discussion that emerged from those presentations and surveys led to the specific Task Force recommendations summarized above. These are explored in detail in the complete report. 4

5 University of Connecticut Online Education Task Force Vision, Goals and Recommendations Introduction The University of Connecticut provides outstanding educational experiences to students by integrating teaching, research and service. The University strives to be a leader and to provide the vision and execution in these fields as would be ascribed to a world class university. The University should provide this leadership and vision in quality online education as well. The Board of Trustees approval of the University s Academic Plan on September 23, 2008 has reinforced the importance of supporting the University s mission through innovative and forward-looking strategies. Distributed across campuses, colleges, schools, programs and departments, online education at UConn is now poised to further advance the University s mission and academic plan. An uncertain economic environment demands creative problem solving and the University should leverage our existing online resources to help achieve our vision of becoming one of the top twenty public research universities in the nation. Evidence from peer and aspirant institutions points to online education as a key component for achieving this vision. With this as a backdrop, Provost Peter Nicholls appointed a Task Force on Online Education to research and report on the status, methods, and potential of online education as it relates to the recently approved academic plan. The Online Education Task Force The Provost charged the Task Force (Appendix A) with analyzing and reporting on the promise of online education with particular attention given to developing and documenting a roadmap forward for the University of Connecticut. Specific assessment and outcome guidelines directed the Task Force to identify: Methods and practices of peer institutions in online education An inventory of current support staff, faculty/unit activities and online offerings at UConn A measure of UConn s administrative, faculty and student interest in expanding our online offerings Input from academic unit administrators on their willingness/ability to offer faculty incentives The technology infrastructure at UConn relative to that required for scale-up and implementation The financial and reputational opportunities and risks for UConn of an online education initiative. Incentive options for faculty to encourage participation in developing and teaching online courses Expectations and qualifications of faculty who seek to develop an online course Intellectual property policies that maximize financial benefit to all parties A summary of views on the role of formal instructional design in online course development Needs and methods for new course approval and year-over-year evaluation of course quality Suggestions on prioritizing focus areas with greatest potential for return Recommendations for an organizing structure to facilitate and coordinate online course activities The Online Education Task Force created and distributed a survey for UConn faculty and instructors (Appendix B), and another for our students (Appendix C). These surveys generated data specifically 5

6 requested in the Provost s charge and more broadly, provided specific information on the faculty and student body s opinions and attitudes about online education at UConn. These data played a major role in the evolution of the Task Force s vision, and as such, salient points will be summarized here to give context to the remainder of the document. Faculty were asked to rate their level of concern regarding 14 components of online education (Figure 1). 483 UConn faculty responded and a factor analysis showed that their responses can be organized into three areas of concern: Instructional Quality; Infrastructure and Instructional Support; and Impact on the Individual Faculty Member. These survey results drive the first two goals found in the vision statement in the next section of this report. Figure 1 Areas of concern as determined by a factor analysis of UConn faculty survey data 6

7 A number of findings relevant to the Task Force s vision emerged from the 1650 students who responded to the survey. When asked Should a greater priority be placed on offering online classes at UConn? students responded yes in the following percentages: - undergraduate students (65%) - graduate students (55%) (for purposes of this report, graduate students includes students in the University s graduate and professional schools). Survey results show that certain conditions influence student interest in taking an online course: - It fits my schedule (70% of all respondents) - It helped me complete my degree requirements sooner (69% of all respondents) - It helped me complete my General Education requirements sooner (freshmen respondents 70%, sophomore, junior and senior respondents 55%) - Courses were offered in the summer or intersession (undergraduate respondents 74% graduate student respondents 56%) These findings are significant and were influential in creating the second and third goals found in the vision statement in the next section. The final iteration of the Task Force s vision resulted from merging data on the stated needs and desires of the faculty and students with pre-existing data including: existing research in online education, the current state of online education at UConn, UConn faculty and staff expertise, and peer and aspirant institutions experiences in online education. The Task Force considered this information within the context of the University s academic plan and created the Vision Statement below. All subsequent suggestions and recommendations evolve from this statement. Online Education Task Force Vision Statement The vision of this Task Force is that the University of Connecticut must develop and deliver online courses and programs that will be perceived and acknowledged as offering superlative online education 1. UConn will become the benchmark against which other peer and aspirant universities compare themselves. The Task Force believes that to realize this vision UConn must: I) consistently develop and deliver high quality online courses; II) comprehensively support all faculty 2 and student needs related to online education, and III) pursue online offerings that provide the greatest benefit to the University 1 Online education in the context of this report is defined as education in which students can complete 100% of the learning activities in an online environment. Normally this would occur asynchronously although there may be cases where courses will use synchronous meetings. 2 The term faculty is used extensively in this report to refer to anyone teaching an online course (e.g., tenure track faculty, lecturers, graduate students, adjuncts). 7

8 Quality, excellence and high student achievement will become the UConn brand, for our faculty and students, and as a public vision that provides institutional pride and intrinsic value as well as strategic market position. Meeting these goals while ensuring a brand of quality, excellence, and high achievement, will strengthen UConn s position as New England s top public university. The time to proceed is now. Current State of Online Education at UConn Offerings: The University of Connecticut has online education opportunities ranging from single courses to complete degree programs. Appendix D provides a more detailed breakdown of online courses at the University. In short, the following areas offer degrees that can be completed solely through online course work: Center for Continuing Studies, School of Business, and Neag School of Education. The Center for Continuing Studies also offers online certificate programs. Outside of degree and certificate programs, at least one online course is offered in each of the University s schools or colleges except for Medicine and Dental Medicine. Support Staff: Support for the design and delivery of online courses is also spread across the University. Instructional design, the process of systematically designing, developing and integrating the component parts of an online course in a pedagogically sound manner, is supported in some areas by instructional designers (ID s). Currently, there are ID s employed across the University in the following areas: Center for Continuing Studies (CCS), Human Resources, Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL), Journalism Department, School of Business, and the University of Connecticut Health Center. The ID s in ITL support undergraduate courses. The ID s in the CCS support course design for CCS initiatives. The ID s in Human Resources are not involved with the design and development of academic courses. The remaining ID s support the initiatives of their specific schools, departments, or programs. It should noted that although it doesn t formally hire ID s, the Neag School of Education offers online courses and programs and has faculty with expertise in the fields of curriculum and instructional design. The Law School has used the Business School s ID professionals on a cost-sharing basis. Technical support is similarly spread across the University. ITL s Instructional Resource Center provides HuskyCT and other technology and pedagogy support to Storrs and regional campus faculty. CCS, ITL the School of Business and the Law School have technical support staff that work in conjunction with instructional designers during online course design and delivery. Some regional campuses, colleges, schools, departments, and programs also have support staff to provide specific technical and pedagogical support to faculty; however, none of these staff are assigned solely to supporting online education. Further, there are those who are formally charged with supporting other areas of technology and teaching who have begun to support online courses or who support on an as-needed basis. University Information Technology Services (UITS) provides support for online courses through a partnership with the Instructional Resource Center and ITL. I. Ensuring the Quality of Online Course Offerings UConn s success in producing quality online education will differentiate this institution from other public and private universities in its vision, implementation, and assessment. While many peer and aspirant universities have committed themselves to online education, quality has not always been placed at the forefront of these initiatives. 8

9 One approach that has generated recent controversy includes activities in Colorado, Illinois, Texas and Utah. In all of these cases, a separate and independent administrative structure was created to integrate offerings from multiple campuses into a single virtual online degree program with a primary objective being revenue generation. These virtual university programs have failed to match the enrollment and revenue goals of their business plans and are being scrutinized and even reorganized. In Illinois, Texas and Utah, online education activities are being returned to the individual campuses for administration or are being eliminated. This Task Force strongly believes that quality in online education rather than revenue generation is our highest priority and as such is better aligned with the University's mission. This conclusion is based on analysis of the survey results, and evolving research and current experiences at UConn concerning learning designs and best practices in online course creation and delivery. The consequence of putting any factors other than quality as the primary driver is the potential for damage to our reputation and the risk of loss of time and effort on a failed strategy (e.g., Carlson & Carnevale, 2001; Jokivirta, 2006). The Task Force faculty survey results reinforce the need for quality from a faculty perspective. Issues of quality (learning assessment, learning effectiveness, academic integrity issues, the UConn brand, and consistency of quality across the institution) stood out as the major concerns faculty have regarding online courses. UConn s focus on quality will derive from developing online courses using standards and processes of instructional design grounded in current research and proven best practices. These standards and processes facilitate faculty development and the creation of active student-centered learning environments. They also form the foundation for an ongoing iterative feedback process characterized by assessment, evaluation, and accountability to accreditation guidelines. The Task Force is confident that these principles will position online education to support UConn s institutional vision to provide outstanding educational programs. To ensure the quality of online education at the University of Connecticut, the Task Force has agreed upon the following recommendations: Recommendation 1: Develop University standards for quality in online education Research in the areas of psychology, education, and online learning specifically has led to the development of pedagogical standards for online education. These standards also address issues of ADA compliance and accessibility, copyright, universal design, web design and issues of academic integrity. QualityMatters serves as one example of an organization that has developed research-based online course standards (http://www.qualitymatters.org/). There are existing support groups and staff currently addressing these issues across UConn. However, these efforts are not guided by a University-wide standard. Standards will allow schools, colleges, programs and departments to work closely with support staff to develop courses and evaluate the quality of these courses against a common baseline. Existing University oversight bodies currently use their own standards to review face-to-face and online courses, often with specific focus given to when the courses are offered (i.e., semester, summer, intersession). For example, the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC) requires special approval of all Gen Ed courses, face-to-face or online, taught in the intersessions of four weeks or less to ensure General Education course criteria will be met in the shortened time period. GEOC does not currently review courses for quality of online pedagogy or technical standards. Other bodies may review for these standards but do so without the benefit of a University standard. In the Task Force faculty survey, 69% of the respondents identified consistency as a concern if UConn implements more online offerings. This Task Force agrees with these findings and recommends that steps be taken to enhance consistency University-wide. Specific recommendations include the following: 9

10 A. Form a University advisory committee charged with developing standards for quality teaching and delivery of online courses. This committee will act in an advisory capacity to existing oversight bodies (e.g., Curricula & Course Committees, Graduate Executive Committee, GEOC, similar committees at the professional schools, etc.) as they make approval decisions regarding the quality of new online courses and programs and is not meant to serve as an additional oversight entity. The committee should consist of representatives from the faculty, heads of instructional design groups, the library, university technical support staff, the Center for Students With Disabilities and other areas identified as relevant to this process. B. Engrain in these standards the importance of active student-centered learning that is cognitively demanding and provides for improved student learning outcomes indicated by retention and future application of knowledge and skills. C. Address issues of academic integrity in online courses, standards for ensuring compliance and policies, and suggested procedures for dealing with any student disregard for academic integrity. D. Reinforce administrative support and acknowledgment of all University standards as essential to all UConn online courses. E. Conduct ongoing assessment and evaluation of online standards to ensure that they are current with research and best practices and effective in maintaining quality. Recommendation 2: Increase the availability of Instructional Design to support University standards for all online courses Standards may define quality, but it is the instructional design process that ensures that these standards are integrated into a completed course and the University s overall commitment to quality online education is maintained. As specialists in their field, faculty members are essential to providing the disciplinary expertise required for quality teaching, content, and delivery of online courses. Similarly, instructional designers are experts in providing the methods and processes by which the faculty s content expertise and teaching acumen are translated into an online environment. Through the systematic process of analyzing needs, defining outcomes, developing and designing assessments, evaluations and activities, and integrating these component parts, the instructional designer works with the faculty to facilitate the most effective learning given the constraints of the institutional setting. Faculty work in partnership with instructional designers, media specialists and other support staff to develop course materials and content, ensure that courses meet copyright and web design standards, and prepare to teach in the online environment. Faculty gain new skills from the instructional design process and begin to build their expertise regarding online course development and delivery. Such a faculty development model of instructional design results in both a new course and a faculty member who can be more effective in future course design. An additional benefit is the ability of faculty to transfer the skills learned in the design process to blended and/or face-to-face courses. This model of instructional design provides one-on-one ID to faculty and faculty to faculty mentoring (Taylor & McQuigan, 2008). as well as faculty development as primary objectives when designing courses (Lavoie, 2001; Lavoie & Rosman, 2007). The Task Force faculty survey found that faculty members abilities to take advantage of the combined efforts of instructional designers and other technical support staff is essential to ensuring quality online education. 10

11 As a result of the lack of instructional design support for all areas of the University, online courses are being developed and delivered at UConn that have not had the benefit of and associated quality achievable with instructional design support. Some academic areas are meeting instructional design and online course development needs through ad hoc means or not at all. There are staff and faculty working at the Storrs and Regional Campuses fulfilling some of the roles of an instructional designer; however, they are not formally titled as such. Unlike undergraduate education, graduate programs do not have a centralized instructional design support group so they must either hire support (as have the Schools of Business and Law) or go without. One last point must be made regarding the role of instructional design at UConn. Instructional designers are already directly supporting the University s academic mission through ongoing faculty development, campus-wide initiatives (e.g., First Year Programs, GEOC, Service Learning, Living Learning Communities), and through face-to-face and blended courses. Although there are many factors that contribute to the work load of instructional designers, this committee agrees that an instructional designer dedicated to developing online courses and working with technical support staff can facilitate the creation of between four and six online courses a year This assumes no other support responsibilities such as those mentioned above. Specific recommendations include the following: A. Increase instructional design staff as needed to ensure all new online courses meet University standards. B. Ensure that existing non-online initiatives can continue to use instructional design support when appropriate to meet the University s academic mission. C. Increase media developer, web design, and other technical support staff to ensure University standards are recognized in the development of all new online courses. D. Provide instructional design and technical support staff to all online undergraduate, graduate, and certification initiatives University-wide. E. Create a formal process for instructional design groups across the University to meet and discuss standards, best practices, emerging research, etc. so as to further maintain continuity and quality in online programs (Instructional Design Committee). Recommendation 3: Implement a standard baseline course evaluation model within the instructional design process for the purpose of ongoing course improvement Instructional design calls for the evaluation of course design. Evaluation provides faculty and designers with data to promote ongoing improvement of an online course. Though evaluation practices may vary from one course to another, there should be a common practice of ongoing evaluation related directly to the University standards. This process will allow faculty and instructional designers to measure their work against a common standard and make necessary changes to online courses. It is important to note that in this context, the evaluation process is intended for faculty and designer use, not as a tool for administrative oversight or as a measure of quality of teaching. The data gathered through the evaluation process enable the faculty and instructional designers to work together as a team to identify course strengths and areas in need of improvement and act on these findings. Specific recommendations include: A. Using current University standards as guides, formulate baseline survey items that can be used to gather data for ongoing internal evaluation of online courses. 11

12 B. Charge the Instructional Design Committee with ongoing review and revision of the evaluation instrument. C. If online faculty members agree with sharing findings, charge the Instructional Design Committee with disseminating findings from these surveys to the University community. Recommendation 4: Work with OIR and other appropriate groups to supplement teaching evaluation instruments with items that address the unique nature of online courses Current University instruments used to evaluate teaching are designed for use in face-to-face courses. There is wide agreement that they do not address some of the situations unique to online education. Specific areas that need attention are: A. Address the need for a specialized online evaluation of teaching instrument to the appropriate University committees (e.g., Faculty Standards, Scholastic Standards, Curriculum and Courses). B. Adapt instrument items on existing teaching evaluation forms so they are appropriately aligned with the online environment. C. Create new items that address the unique nature of online learning. IIa. Supporting Faculty Needs Related to Online Education Though providing the highest quality online experience for our students has been given primacy in our recommendations, this cannot be achieved without faculty involvement. A first step in gaining faculty involvement is making sure their needs are met. The Task Force faculty survey provides some valuable insight regarding faculty needs related to creating and teaching online courses. In summary, 180 UConn faculty who showed an interest in teaching online in the future were asked what resources they would need to teach online. Of this group, 102 had never taught online and 78 had. Data analysis pointed to specific areas of need regardless of faculty experience teaching online. Of the faculty respondents interested in teaching online, the following needs were identified: - Need Technical Support to Create an Online Course (74%) - Need Pedagogical Support to Create an Online Course (71%), - Need Technical Support to Teach an Online Course (60%), - Need Pedagogical Support to Teach an Online Course (57%), - Need for Flexible Location (61%), - Need for Flexible Schedule (55%), - Need for Recognition of Efforts (57%). The survey data supports other recent research finding that instructor roles in the online environment are different than in face-to-face settings and that technology and educational support must be provided to online instructors (Swan, 2003). These data combined with those referenced in the introduction faculty concerns regarding incentives, intellectual property issues, and time commitment (Fig. 1) support the Task Force s assertion that comprehensive faculty support must be provided in all areas related to designing and teaching online courses. This begins with a faculty development model of instructional design that leverages faculty members intellectual capital and progressively empowers them to develop and teach courses in a pedagogically sound manner. This connection to a course and a process and the subsequent increase in online course development and delivery skills reduces the risk and costs of high faculty turnover. 12

13 UConn should support faculty in the areas of technology, intellectual property, copyright, and pedagogy prior to, during and after a course is taught. This support is currently available in various areas of the university (i.e. varied by regional campus, college, school, program and department.) but to meet the needs of an online initiative, these services must be consistent and available to all faculty members. Support must also be provided at the departmental, programmatic, college, and institutional level in terms of recognition, compensation, promotion and tenure practices. If faculty support is not addressed in a transparent and holistic manner, UConn will likely see faculty disinterest, frustration, high turnover and a decline in willing participants for online education. The Task Force recognizes that there are costs associated with these proposals and recommends that options for adjusted tuition and/or fees for online courses and programs be explored in order to recapture these additional expenses. Creating new online courses and programs will attract additional students to the University that otherwise would not take these classes with us and can assist the University in providing for enhanced faculty support needs. To ensure sufficient faculty support related to online education at the University of Connecticut, the Task Force has agreed upon the following recommendations: Recommendation 5: Implement a University-wide faculty development model of instructional design The faculty member is central to the development of quality online courses. Working collaboratively with an instructional design team, faculty members develop courses based on their instructional priorities, philosophies, content expertise and internal expectations for their students. This faculty-centered process leads to the development of a course uniquely designed for a specific faculty member. Minimizing course rotation and instructor turnover is essential in order to maximize return on faculty effort and reduce the need to redesign a course as new faculty members are assigned to teach it. Faculty development models of instructional design not only design and produce a quality course, but develop the faculty member to become more self-sufficient and expert in the field of online course design and delivery (Lavoie, 2001; Lavoie & Rosman, 2007; Taylor & McQuigan, 2008). A skilled, confident faculty member is more likely to feel satisfaction in his or her course delivery and more likely to continue teaching online. Further, a faculty development model acts as a means of creating a growing population of faculty that may act as trained peer support to other faculty new to online education. The Task Force faculty survey suggests that this model will reinforce what is already occurring at UConn. When asked what resources they called upon while developing online courses, faculty who taught online at UConn reported that 58 % chose Storrs Instructional Design staff and 57% chose faculty peers. A faculty development model promotes and perpetuates quality, best practices and informal faculty support to complement the formal support already in place. The implementation of a University wide model will serve to bolster the activity already occurring and provide a new source of support for those who have not yet developed online courses. Specific recommendations include the following: A. Charge the Instructional Design Committee (referenced in Section I, Recommendation 2 line D) with creating a guideline for a University faculty development model of instructional design. B. Reinforce the meritorious nature of participating in a faculty development model of instructional design. 13

14 Recommendation 6: Integrate and expand faculty support services to meet University-wide faculty technology and pedagogy requirements Faculty members interested in teaching online at UConn require comprehensive support. Further analysis of the data provided in Section IIa shows that of those faculty who have taught online in the past, 59% need technical support developing online courses and 54% need pedagogical support. In terms of teaching online courses, 45% of this cohort needs technical support and 42% pedagogical support. Even after teaching online, it is clear that there is the need for ongoing, albeit reduced support services. Instructional design and the associated technical development support are essential to supporting the implementation of University standards and in directly supporting faculty needs in all areas of online course delivery. In addition, it is essential that software, hardware, and infrastructure needed to deliver online courses are present and sufficient for the expansion of online course. As online education expands at UConn, the University Libraries will continue to play a major role in supporting faculty needs specific to the online environment. Due to the nature of online learning at UConn, staff and resources in some libraries support online learning on a regular basis. Other staff see little or no demand for their services. The libraries will need to be informed of ongoing online course initiatives and needs so they are able to provide appropriate resources. The primary means of online delivery, HuskyCT, is supported by UITS. Other delivery methods are distributed across the University (e.g., hosting servers, streaming servers, data storage). These distributed services arose to fill the needs of specific groups. In many cases, these services did not originate with the primary mission of supporting online education, though some online delivery resources are specific to an academic field (e.g., legal education). Such an unplanned infrastructure is not well-suited to support the expansion of online education as recommended in this report. UITS has recently begun the process of analyzing its role in supporting UConn s academic mission and all efforts should be made to communicate faculty needs as online education increases. Specific recommendations include the following: A. Identify areas of likely online course growth and ensure the availability of instructional designers and associated support staff. (Except for the School of Business and the Center for Continuing Studies, graduate programs currently have no formal instructional design services available to them. Undergraduate support is working at capacity.) B. Supply UITS with data needed to make informed decisions regarding areas of focus and levels of support needed to increase online offerings at UConn. C. Supply the University Libraries with the data needed to make informed decisions regarding areas of focus and levels of support needed to increase online offerings at UConn. D. Identify areas of redundancy and isolation in terms of technology necessary to support online education. E. Consider expanding the mission of existing support groups so as to provide adequate support to colleges, schools, departments, programs, and regional campuses. 14

15 Recommendation 7: Create new faculty support services in areas identified as critical to the quality of online education Educational technology is a rapidly changing field and much of the technology used to deliver online education has been available for less than two years. Technology that has existed longer has not remained static, but is continually evolving. In order to offer faculty the most appropriate technology for a given pedagogical situation, the University needs to provide sufficient support, expertise, and resources to adapt to this changing environment. Specific recommendations: A. Identify current faculty support needs that are unmet and modify or create support structures necessary to support these needs. B. Create an online education technology committee (including representation from ITL, UITS, Instructional Design groups, faculty, etc.) charged with investigating, testing, and recommending new technology, software, infrastructure, etc., for the support of online education. While much of the technology infrastructure and support staff required for expanding online education already exists at UConn, these resources are distributed across the University. Additionally, the functions of UITS (University Information Technology Services) that provide the supporting technology infrastructure including connectivity, storage, back-up, hosting, media streaming and other back-room equipment and services are fundamental to the expansion of online education. Recommendation 8: Explicitly address issues of intellectual property in online courses The University must address the need for a clear and explicit policy regarding intellectual property in online courses. Although there are guidelines in the AAUP contract and University policies regarding intellectual property, they do not clearly inform faculty about their rights or the expectations of the University. If faculty members are paid to design a course, it could be considered work for hire, a situation with certain limitations on the intellectual property rights of the faculty member. If the faculty member is not paid and the course is not considered work for hire, there are other implications. Content designed in conjunction with an instructional designer or media developer raises other questions of ownership and transferability. Data from the faculty survey show that 41% of faculty members, regardless of interest or experience in teaching online, are fairly or very concerned about issues of intellectual property. 20 % were somewhat concerned. Feedback from online program administrators at peer and aspirant institutions supports that intellectual property is an issue that must be addressed in a clear and forthright manner. AAUP is aware of these issues but no formal language or agreements have yet been created. If faculty members are to design and develop online courses, they must know their rights with certainty prior to undertaking the task. Further, instructional design support groups must be aware of the effect intellectual property policies have on their efforts. Specific recommendations related to intellectual property follow: A. Identify all possible scenarios in a course development process that may raise issues of intellectual property for faculty and the University (e.g., materials created solely by the faculty, materials created solely by University staff, materials created in partnership between faculty and University staff, questions of transferability of courses to other institutions, questions of allowing faculty to teach another faculty member s course, etc.) B. Inform AAUP of these issues so it may take them into account in the labor contract. 15

16 C. Develop intellectual property agreements for online course faculty. D. Clarify the impact of a faculty development model of instructional design on issues of intellectual property and how this will impact AAUP and University policies. E. Clarify the impact of faculty involvement in instructional design as research as it is related to issues of intellectual property and how this will impact AAUP and University policies. Recommendation 9: Revise existing policies and implement new policies to address issues related to recognition, compensation, and PTR in online education The initial creation of quality online courses through the faculty development model suggested by this Task Force consumes more time and effort relative to a face-to-face course. The Administration at all levels should acknowledge this fact and seek to accommodate the online instructor as guided by the above list of motivators. Section III below highlights the importance of online education as a means of meeting the University s academic plan. To meet this end, Deans and Department Heads will need additional motivating tools for those faculty members who agree to teach courses that address targeted needs (e.g., summer and/or intersession courses that facilitate on-time graduation, attract full enrollment, and generate additional revenue). Similarly, Department Heads responsible for delivering a complete curriculum and distributing workload among their faculty must be made aware of the additional faculty effort required to design and teach quality online courses. Further, Department Heads need to understand the benefits their departments and the University will receive from online education. With this information, Department Heads can make more informed decisions regarding faculty assignments and accommodations as well as decisions related to merit and annual reporting. Many peer and aspirant institutions have structured guidelines and policies for addressing faculty compensation for developing online courses (Appendix E). The University of Connecticut lacks consistency in this area. In response to the Task Force survey, 55% of the faculty interested in teaching online were either fairly or highly concerned about the nature of incentives to develop and teach online courses. Another 26% were somewhat concerned. A recent survey of experienced online faculty at 36 colleges showed that of 23 criteria, those of inadequate compensation for online course development, online course revision and online teaching were identified as the top three demotivators for teaching online (Shea, 2007). Further support for the need for a compensation model was found through communication with administrators for online programs at the U.S. News and World Report s top-twenty institutions, who all confirmed that faculty at these institutions offering online courses are compensated for the design and development of courses. It is important to note that at many of these institutions, there is a close relationship between compensation and intellectual property. Often, intellectual property agreements are made with faculty as part of compensation packages. Given these data, this Task Force believes a compensation model must be developed that gives incentive to faculty for undertaking the process of designing and developing quality online courses. Specific recommendations include: A. Upper administration reinforces to all academic areas the importance of online education to achieving the University s academic mission. B. Upper administration works with Deans and Department heads to provide motivating tools to faculty who teach online courses that focus on meeting the academic mission. 16

17 C. Through education and outreach, increase Department Head awareness and understanding of the additional effort needed to develop quality online courses through a faculty development model of instructional design. D. Increase Department Head awareness and understanding of the benefits associated with delivering high quality online courses (e.g., increased revenue, visibility of programs, recruitment, etc.) E. Provide compensation to faculty who undertake the faculty development model of instructional design if the target course has sufficient value or importance to the University. IIb. Supporting Student Needs Related to Online Education Student access to adequate support services has been identified as a major component of successful online education (Cho & Berge, 2002; Dirr, 1999). The Task Force believes that comprehensive, quality student support is an integral component of online education at UConn. Students will be supported most directly through the quality of courses offered. The Task Force student survey provided data regarding student opinions about the quality of online education when compared with face-to-face courses. Lower division students had the greatest uncertainty of the quality (39-40%) while upper division students uncertainty was in the 23-32% range. 27% of graduate student respondents were uncertain about the quality of online instruction. Of those who had an opinion on the quality, the majority of respondents expressed the belief that online courses are of lower quality than face-to-face course. 61% of first year students believe that online quality is lower while 34% believe it was of equal quality. The remaining groups expressed the opinion that online was of lower quality, by a 50-55% plurality. Those who felt it was of equal quality were in the 41-47% range and those who felt online was better quality remained in the 4-6% range. This Task Force s vision statement stressed that the University of Connecticut must develop and deliver online courses and programs that will be perceived and acknowledged as offering superlative online education. This is especially true for students. Consistent, quality courses developed around active student-centered learning processes will redefine quality online education at UConn. Sections I and II of this report addresses these issue in its recommendations for standards, instructional design, and comprehensive faculty support. If the recommendations made in these subsections are adopted, online students at UConn will experience courses that promote student-to-student, student-to-faculty and student-to-content interaction in a studentcentered environment. Research supports these recommendations when applied to student learning and satisfaction. Shea, Swan, Frederickson and Pickett (2002) found that students who reported high levels of interaction with other online students also rated their level of learning as high. Students also found increased intrinsic motivation and psychological comfort when faculty and student interaction was promoted (Liao, 2006) and reported higher levels of learning when high levels of instructor to student interaction were present (Shea, Fredericksen, Pickett, Pelz, & Swan, 2001). In addition to enabling students to achieve academic excellence, UConn must support online students needs specific to the online learning environment (e.g., student systems reliability, connectivity/access, hardware/software, setup concerns, infrastructure, technical support, etc.) as well as needs common to all students at UConn (e.g., admissions, advising, book store, career planning, financial aid, library resources, orientation, requirements, records, tutoring, etc.). Online education poses unique challenges in meeting 17

18 these needs as certain populations drawn to online education do not have the same access, proximity, or flexibility in schedule as on-the-ground students; these populations include adult learners, returning students, non-residential students, and off campus summer students. To support all online students, adaptations must be made to existing support structures. Where necessary and appropriate, new support structure must be developed. To ensure sufficient student support related to online education at the University of Connecticut, the Task Force has agreed upon the following recommendations: Recommendation 10: Provide online students with appropriate academic and technical resources and support Currently, many units within UConn have taken steps to provide for the needs of online students. Yet not all of the support services and resources used by on the ground students at UConn are accessible to all online UConn students. As online education expands at UConn, a systematic effort must be made to have appropriate resources and support available to online students. Specific recommendations include the following: A. Identify all areas of on-the-ground student resources and support that online students need access to and work with these units to develop comparable web based or otherwise accessible services. B. Provide online students with a single point of contact for all resources and services (See Web Portal in Recommendation 11). C. Charge the Online Course Standards committee with investigating the unique issues of academic integrity in online education and advising the University and its Schools and Departments on policies and procedures regarding academic integrity D. Include student representation on the Online Course Standards committee when appropriate to ensure University standards for online education address student needs that arise before, during and after enrollment in online classes. E. Identify external resources that maximize return on investment by providing for online and face-to-face student needs. Recommendation 11: Create a web portal as a single point of access for potential and existing online students seeking information and services We envision the growth of online courses as a natural evolution of higher education and do not seek to isolate or separate these courses from the rest of our course catalog. In fact, the University has already demonstrated success in online education including undergraduate, professional graduate degree, and continuing studies courses and programs. Yet, the university lacks a central web portal to attract and inform students of these opportunities, and to guide them through all steps from course selection through the enrollment process. Some UConn programs have comprehensive web-based and on-the-ground resources for addressing these areas (e.g., Continuing Studies, School of Business, Neag), yet these do not address the needs of a large number of students who enroll in online courses at UConn. Thus, UConn must attract and then funnel students to the appropriate next step. For example, students seeking to learn the specifics of a particular undergraduate, professional graduate degree, or continuing studies course must have web based resources available to them that provide further details and instructions. Specific recommendations follow: 18

19 A. Create a UConn Online web portal to attract, inform and direct students to the current and growing opportunities offered by our institution. B. Integrate links to resources and support services in this portal to provide a single point of contact for all UConn online students. III. Pursuing Online Offerings that Most Benefit the University Online education by its very nature is flexible, adaptive, and far reaching in its scope. The benefits listed below provide a broad-scale impact and are aligned with the University s mission. These benefits have been realized at certain peer and aspirant institutions, providing further motivation for UConn to undertake an expanded and coordinated online education effort. Moving ahead with all of these suggestions at once would place exceptional strain on existing online resources during the early stages of implementation. Thus a comprehensive strategic plan and business model should be developed to determine a hierarchy of importance and feasibility as well as a long-term road map for the University and its Schools and Departments. The benefits of an expanded online education effort that is aligned with the University mission include: Increased revenue from new certificate and degree programs Increased efficiencies and revenue from offering online courses in the summer and intersession enabling students to continue their UConn degrees while away from Connecticut Increased efficiencies because online courses do not require physical space, thus alleviating classroom and seat limitations that occur in certain high-enrollment courses during the academic year Increased access to required and desired courses by students at all campuses by offering courses across campuses that previously could not be offered due to low enrollment in a particular course at a specific campus Increased access to specialized courses by offering courses taught by expert faculty at specific campuses across all UConn campuses Increased opportunity for outreach and recruitment by offering courses that reach out to Connecticut s community colleges and high schools as appropriate Permitting the development of reciprocal-exchange programs with other universities Supporting the continuous improvement of teaching and learning across all disciplines and levels of education through the faculty development process and the dissemination of best practices common to online, face-to-face and blended environments Providing increased educational opportunities to the citizens of Connecticut including nontraditional students, adult, and lifelong learners Providing specialized professional and graduate education to individuals located outside Connecticut and on an international basis Increased offerings of smaller class sizes by moving large enrollment classes into the online environment Increased variety in learning modes to address the needs of a diverse student population Success requires student markets that will enroll in our online courses. The recent literature and a survey of 1,650 UConn students validates that a thriving market exists. Of the UConn students who responded to the survey: 60% felt that UConn should make it a priority to offer more online classes 50% stated they would consider taking an online class at UConn 19

20 55% sought more course choices during the summer and intersession periods 20% took a summer class at an institution other than UConn These results document a significant student market for online education and do not even include potential students who otherwise would not take courses at the University but for our online programs. Task Force deliberations suggest that UConn could capture a reasonable share of this market with a targeted catalog of online courses that is responsive to student demand. Whether return is defined as recruitment, retention or revenue, success will be determined in large part by the selection and timing of the courses offered. For example, the Registrar has noted that certain general education courses, if offered online and during the summer and/or intersession terms, fill to enrollment capacity very quickly. Thus, we could improve time-to-graduation for our students by expanding our summer and/or intersession general education offerings. Continuing with this example, because of instructor fees and other fixed costs, online courses offered during the summer and/or intersession terms provide new revenue to the university as long as enrollment is above about 20 students. At an undergraduate level, we could thus maximize revenue generation by giving priority to the development and delivery of high enrollment, summer and/or intersession online courses. To pursue online offerings that most benefit the University as a whole, the Task Force has agreed upon the following recommendations: Recommendation 12: Develop a comprehensive business plan for the expansion of online education at the University of Connecticut The Task Force recommends that an important next step toward implementation of the vision articulated in this document is the creation of a detailed business plan. To maximize the potential for positive outcomes for our students and institution through quality, support and other essential elements as detailed in this document, while providing greatest benefit to the University as a whole, the planning should be entrepreneurial in nature. Specifically, issues to be addressed include: - The trade offs among efficiency, access, and opportunity, - The size and timing of the effort, - Structure and staffing, - Investment options and potential for impact and income, - Branding, marketing and operational planning. The methods and processes for such planning are left to the Administration and its communications with colleges, schools, departments and programs. We stress the value and importance of this step, however, for growth and success of online education at UConn. Recommendation 13: Create a process to implement the business plan Since the inception of this Task Force, a tangible increase in the internal institutional awareness of online education at UConn has been noticed. Whether the existence of the Task Force has led to this increase or it is a natural progression for this time in history, there is more interest than ever in online education. 20

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