Quality Assurance in Online MPA Programs. Dr. Ellen Rosell Troy University

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1 Quality Assurance in Online MPA Programs Dr. Ellen Rosell Troy University

2 MPA Online: The Future? In his speech at the 2010 American Federation of Teachers Convention, Bill Gates predicted that "place-based activity in college will be five times less important than it is today." Noting the evergrowing popularity of online learning, he predicted that "five years from now, on the Web for free you'll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university. College, except for the parties," Gates concluded, "needs to be less place-based."

3 Online Higher Education Over 5.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2009 term; an increase of nearly one million students over the number reported the previous year. The twenty-one percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the less than two percent growth of the overall higher education student population. Nearly thirty percent of higher education students now take at least one course online (Sloane Report, 2010).

4 Online MPA Programs Survey of NASPAA Schools (8 programs with online courses) University of Nebraska at Omaha MPA program began delivering distance education courses via both satellite/fiber optic systems and computer mediated instruction. Iowa State University - The Public Administration graduate program began delivering distance education courses via the ICN, a statewide, synchronous, full-motion, interactive, video and audio teleconferencing system that was begun in Iowa decided to be the first state in the nation to develop a statewide telecommunications fiber optic backbone. Georgia Southern University, Naval Postgraduate School, University of Baltimore, University of North Dakota, University of South Dakota, & University of Texas at Tyler NASPAA member programs with online courses members of 250 NASPAA offering online courses, certificates, or degree programs (20%) 12 online MPA programs are NASPAA accredited

5 Course Delivery & Web Technology Courses Traditional or Inclass or Face-to-Face Web enhanced or Web facilitated Blended/Hybrid Video-delivered with web enhancement Online or Web-delivered Use of Web Technology None Course content delivered orally or in writing Supplement a face-to-face course with a course management system (CMS) or web pages to post the syllabus, assignments, handouts, etc. Portion of course delivered online and a portion in face-to-face meetings Using interactive television to connect the instructor with a class that meets regularly at a distant location and the internet or CMS for communication Entire course offered through the web

6 Web-based Education (WBE), Distance Education, Distance Learning, elearning or Virtual Education Hallmarks are Noncontiguous communication between student and teacher (Keegan, 1986); Mediated by print or some form of technology (Garrison and Shale, 1987); The separation of teacher and learner in space and/or time (Perraton, 1988); The volitional control of learning by the student rather than the distant instructor (Jonassen, 1992) A formal education process in which the student and instructor are not in the same place (Delta Sky, May 2011, p. 127).

7 Purposes of assessment: 1. Improve student learning; 2. Identify students strengths and weaknesses; 3. Review, assess, and improve the effectiveness of different teaching strategies; 4. Review, assess, and improve the effectiveness of curricular programs; 5. Improve teaching effectiveness; 6. Provide useful administrative data that will expedite decision making; and 7. To communicate with stakeholders (Kellough & Kellough, 1999).

8 Online MPA Program Components Institutional Faculty Instructional Mission Enabling Course Design institutional environment Continuous Institutional Academic Design Quality rewards & Improvement incentives Measures Evaluation of Programs Effectiveness Student Satisfaction Post Graduation Employment Assessment Teaching Support Technology Support Program & Institutional Integration Student Support Services Admission Advising Career Placement Library Resources Technology Support

9 Faculty Instructional Institutional Learner Requirements Program Suitability Learning Effectiveness Personalized Educational Experience Institutional Support & Resources for Learners Student Support Services

10 Questions Assessing Student Learning Outcomes versus Student Learner Requirements Focus has been on assessing student learning outcomes versus assessing the institutional, faculty, instructional, and student support services components contributing to the learner requirements; Assessing Online Education versus Traditional Inclass Education Schlosser and Anderson (1994) refer to Desmond Keegan's theory of distance education, in which the distance learning system must artificially recreate the teaching-learning interaction and re-integrate it back into the instructional process. McDonald (2002) argues that in constantly comparing distance education to traditional education: What are we overlooking or sacrificing? When we strive to recreate the classroom experience, we limit teaching and learning to what works best in face-to-face situations; Distance education can be a frontier for new methods of communication giving rise to innovative teaching and learning practices that may not be possible in traditional, place-bound education.

11 Questions E-Assessment versus Assessment Ridgway, McCusker, and Pead (2004) Define e-assessment as the use of electronic technologies to drive student learning assessment. E-assessment should encourage the rethinking of curriculum, e-learning, and technology; E-assessment is flexible and supports the assessment of higher order thinking, social skills, and group work through such means as digital portfolios

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