Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Online Education and Institutional Transformation

In today's discussion, I want to focus on how online education is transforming colleges and universities. I plan to focus on the award-winning online program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS).

This is a so-called presentation blog, and each blog posting deals with a separate topic that I would like to cover. Note that anyone can post a comment on any of the individual blog postings.

My goal is to help the Governors State FSI participants understand the impact of online education, as well as what is needed to develop and to deliver high-quality online courses and programs.

Important Studies on Online Learning

The 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
  • Students taking most of their classes online report more deep approaches to learning in their classes, relative to classroom based learners. Furthermore, a larger share of online learners reported very often participating in intellectually challenging course activities.
US Department of Education - 2009 Report - Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies
  • 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.
  • Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
The 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
  • Course management and interactive technologies were positively related to student engagement, self-reported learning outcomes, and deep approaches to learning.

Online Education in the United States, 2009

Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009 [Survey report published by the Sloan Consortium]

Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating no signs of slowing.
  • Over 4.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2008 term; a 17 percent increase over the number reported the previous year.
  • The 17 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student population.
  • More than one in four college and university students now take at least one course online.
The 2009 report also found that 74 percent of public institutions believe that online is critical for their long-term strategy. In addition, the growth of online courses and programs has increased the need for faculty to become comfortable with online teaching and gain the necessary skills to make online courses a success.

The Sloan Consortium

The Sloan Consortium ( ) is an association of colleges, universities, and other organizations committed to quality online teaching and learning. The founder of the consortium, Dr. Frank Mayadas, is a good friend and colleague who has had an enormous impact on the development of online learning nationwide over the past 15 years. He served as the program director for the online and blended learning initiatives at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; the Sloan Foundation has provided nearly $100 million to foster quality online teaching and learning.

Sloan-C publishes a peer-reviewed journal, holds national conferences, conducts online faculty development workshops, recognizes outstanding contributions to online learning, and in general, promotes quality online education.

The Sloan-C Quality Pillars

In 1997, Dr. Frank Mayadas (of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) first spoke about the "Five Pillars" that support quality online education.

The quality pillars are:
  • Access
  • Learning Effectiveness
  • Cost Effectiveness (now Scale)
  • Student Satisfaction
  • Faculty Satisfaction
Dr. Mayadas proposed that institutions develop quantitative metrics to track their progress in each of the quality areas.

In 2008, the Sloan Consortium awarded the Inaugural Ralph E. Gomory Awards for Quality Online Education to two institutions (UIS, UCF) that best demonstrated, in a quantitative manner, their commitment to continuous improvement of the quality of their online programs using the Sloan-C Pillars.

GSU and SSU/UIS - Parallel Histories

Governors State University (GSU) and Sangamon State University (SSU) were both created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1969 to offer upper-division baccalaureate and masters degrees.

Sangamon State University:
  • Fall 1995 - transition to University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS)
  • Fall 1998 - first fully online baccalaureate degree-completion and masters degree programs
  • Fall 2001 - Capital Scholars Program (residential freshmen)
  • Current enrollment of approximately 5000 (headcount)
  • One University Plaza, Springfield, Illinois
Governors State University
  • Current enrollment of approximately 7800 (headcount)
  • One University Parkway, University Park, Illinois

The Online Program at UIS - Some Basic Information

UIS offers 8 baccalaureate degree completion programs, 9 masters degrees, and 8 post-baccalaureate certificate programs in a fully online format. UIS also offers 3 masters degrees in a blended format (less than one-half the campus visits normally required).

A key feature of the online program at UIS is that online courses are taught on-load by the SAME faculty who teach on-campus; the online program is fully integrated with the campus.

The online enrollments have grown continuously since the initiative was started in 1998:

At census for the Spring 2010 semester:
  • Online majors made up 26.5% of UIS headcount enrollment. (more than 1 in 4)
  • At 1,290, the number of online majors increased by 114 from Spring 2009 (9.7%). (The UIS census headcount increased by 327 students overall.)
  • 33.7% of credits were generated in online courses. (more than 1 in 3)
  • 53.8% of UIS students took at least one course online. (more than half)
  • 31.9% were registered only in online courses. (3 in 10)
  • 35.6% of online majors have mailing addresses outside Illinois. (more than 1 out of 3)
  • 85.3% of the Illinois students have mailing addresses outside Sangamon County. (more than 5 out of 6)
  • The online majors are older than their on campus counterparts, by as much as 9 years on average at the undergraduate level, and by 3 years at the Masters level. The average age is 35.1 for online Masters students, and 34.4 for online undergraduate students.
  • Students taking both online and on campus courses take heavier courseloads than either the completely online or on campus students, by about 4 hours at the graduate level.

The Online Program at UIS - Impact on the Institution and its Faculty

Over the past year, the online program at UIS generated the following number of credit hours:
  • Fall 2009 - 14,947 credit hours
  • Spring 2010 - 15,814 credit hours
  • Summer 2010 - 8,534 credit hours
This total of 39,295 credit hours generated ~$10,000,000 in tuition during the last year and ~$1,000,000 in additional fees that were returned to the colleges and the online support units. Additional fees were generated that went to other support areas.

During the past year, a significant fraction of the UIS faculty taught online:
  • Fall 2009 - 154 different faculty taught online
  • Spring 2010 - 154 different faculty taught online
  • Summer 2010 - 108 different faculty taught online
Over the entire year, about 175 different faculty taught online (out of ~250 faculty employed at UIS).

Importantly, each of the four faculty members who received awards in May 2010 for outstanding achievement and service teach online at UIS. In addition, each of the faculty members recommended for promotion in May 2010 also teach online at UIS.

Keys to Online Success at UIS

Keys to Online Success at UIS
  • Full degree programs available online
  • Faculty-driven initiative; course development support
  • OTEL/COLRS – constructivist, student-centered pedagogy
  • Tech support
  • Student support – program coordinators, online library, online tutoring
  • Integration of online teaching
  • Faculty experimentation, sharing, & scholarship
  • Technology (online) fee and e-tuition
  • Distributed ownership
  • Programs that meet the needs of adult learners
  • Faculty champions – Ray Schroeder, Karen Swan, Keith Miller, Laurel Newman (and many more)
  • Marketed as part of a larger initiative – U of I Online
  • UIS community emphasis on quality teaching

UIS Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service

The Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS) is the UIS hub for the study and application of online learning pedagogy, technology, and best practices. For the first decade of its existence, the Center was named the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning (OTEL).

COLRS is directed by Prof. Ray Schroeder, who has an international reputation for his expertise in online learning.

COLRS provides support in the areas of faculty development, instructional design, and pedagogical theory as it relates to the use and exploration of technologies to enhance online learning. From pedagogy to new technologies to troubleshooting, COLRS workshops, trainings, and one-on-one assistance can help.

Over the past decade UIS has moved to the forefront of institutions engaged in online learning and the uses of technology in instruction.

UIS faculty members’ responsiveness to adopting the Internet and other technologies for instruction has been followed quickly by their scholarship focused on online learning and emerging educational technologies.

UIS is building upon this record of accomplishment by establishing a Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service (COLRS). The Center:
  • Provides support for both original scholarly research and the dissemination of results.
  • Builds synergies between discovery research and the enhancement of current online education practices.
  • Informs, empowers, assists, and supports the faculty of UIS in the delivery of courses, degrees, and certificate programs through the Internet.
  • Reaches out around the globe to build exciting new online collaborations among educational institutions, government agencies, and businesses.

UIS Community of Practice for E-Learning

"There is so much we can learn from each other."

The Community of Practice for E-Learning (COPE-L) is a group of faculty, online unit coordinators, and staff that meet regularly to discuss research, best practices, and innovations in technology-enhanced, blended, and online learning environments.

COPE-L is directed by Prof. Laurel Newman, who also directs the online programs for the UIS College of Business and Management. Prof. Newman recently received the 2010 Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award.

The Online Program at UIS - Awards and Recognition

UIS has received national recognition for the quality, scale, and breath of its online program.

2007 Sloan-C Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Programming

2007 Two-Part Feature Story about the UIS Online Program on NPR's Morning Edition Show

2008 Sloan-C Gomory Award for Quality Online Education

2008 Society for New Communications Research - Excellence in New Communications Award

In addition, three UIS faculty have received the prestigious Sloan-C award for outstanding achievement in online education (Ray Schroeder, Karen Swan, and Burks Oakley).

The title of this posting is a link to a PowerPoint presentation about the online program at UIS.

Other Online Institutions I Admire

In addition to the University of Illinois at Springfield, I really admire and respect the online programs at:
These institutions are recognized for the quality of their online programs. They all have outstanding instructional design and faculty development programs. And most importantly, they have INTEGRATED online teaching into the mainstream.

Faculty Development Programs are Essential

Before teaching online, faculty should participate in a formal faculty development program. There are numerous opportunities in this area:

The Sloan Consortium offers numerous online workshops (>70 in 2010) for faculty and staff professional development. Many faculty enroll in Sloan-C's certificate in the area of online teaching.

The University of Illinois offers the Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality (MVCR) faculty development program through the Illinois Online Network.

The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a number of faculty development opportunities in the area of online teaching through OTEL/COLRS and COPE-L.

The University of Illinois at Springfield is the lead institution in the New Century Learning Consortium (NCLC).

Student Support

Strong student support is critical.

Each online program at UIS has a Program Coordinator:
  • pre-enrollment advising & recruitment
  • post-enrollment counseling & registration, tracking of student progress
  • interface between the online students and the departmental faculty
  • very hands-on – lots of “hand holding”
  • salary paid through online course fee
See: (plus video)

A Faculty-Driven Initiative with Distributed Ownership

At UIS, the online program is a faculty-driven initiative - it is NOT an administrative mandate.
  • Online degree programs at UIS are faculty-driven; departmental faculty first must vote to put their degrees online.
  • College must then approve, then the Undergraduate or Graduate Council, then the Campus Senate.
  • Faculty receive a modest course development stipend (or release time).
  • More information at:
At UIS, the online program also has a distributed ownership.
  • At UIS, no single person “owns” the online initiative; rather, there is a distributed ownership, so that everyone “owns” the initiative.
  • It isn’t even the responsibility of a single office – everyone, from the departmental secretaries to the provost, takes responsibility for a portion of the success of the online programs.

Rubrics for Quality

Quality Matters created a set of forty specific elements, distributed across eight broad standards, by which to evaluate the design of online and hybrid courses. The web-based, fully interactive rubric is complete with annotations that explain the application of the standards and relationship between them. The eight broad standards include:
  1. Course Introduction/Overview
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

One additional area I encourage users to consider is the less-quantitative aspects of the class. How does the class promote affective learning and changes? Are attitudes and opinions cultivated?

An excellent, less-quantitative, rubric that addresses some of these areas is one developed by Chico State University:

Faculty Reasons for Teaching Online

There are a number of reasons that faculty at UIS have for teaching online:
  • UIS has a long tradition of serving non-traditional students (UIS faculty care about providing access to higher education). [Photos] [Videos] [More Photos]
  • Faculty enjoy working with the high-quality students who are attracted to the UIS online degree programs.
  • Faculty get to know their online students really well through multiple weekly interactions; this is something that is valued by faculty.
  • The UIS online programs attract diverse students - not just students from rural towns in central Illinois.
  • Online teaching provides new opportunities for scholarship - many faculty have been able to publish papers about their online teaching experiences (P&T).
  • Online education is now part of the UIS culture - it is expected of all new faculty.
  • Teaching online gives faculty increased flexibility (travel, work from home, etc.).
  • Emeritus faculty report being re-invigorated by online teaching.
  • Faculty report that the new approaches they learn in teaching online can be used to improve their on-campus teaching.

Faculty Incentives for Teaching Online

There are various incentives for UIS faculty to teach online:
  • Course development stipends
  • Flexibility - teach from home, travel to play golf in Ireland
  • Online courses fill first - guarantees summer salary (course doesn't cancel), help to grow overall enrollments (increased tuition revenue)
  • High level of pedagogical support (from OTEL/COLRS) and high level of tech support from Information Technology Services.
  • Assistance analyzing data for publication; assistance with publication of data.
  • Gain experience using new technologies.

Keeping Current

For daily updates on online learning, educational technology and emerging technologies, I invite you to visit the blogs aggregated in the right column:

Online Learning Update

Educational Technology Blog

Techno-News Blog

Recession Realities in Higher Education

These blogs are published daily (365 days each year) by my colleague, Prof. Ray Schroeder, at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Serving Ethnic Minorities and Low-Income Students

Are ethnic minorities and low-income students served equally well through online teaching as white middle-class students?

Panelists: Online learning can help minority students

Minority Students Turning to Online Schools for Advanced Degrees

Incorporating the Hybrid Learning Model into Minority Education at a Historically Black University

Minorities and Online Higher Education
Students from minority cultures are particularly vulnerable to feeling isolated from the majority culture on many campuses. Online education has the potential for mitigating this problem, however.

Factors Influencing Faculty Use of Technology in Online Instruction: A Case Study - Elizabeth Reed Osika, et al - Chicago State University
If a large minority-serving institution’s faculty does not adapt well, the students will not be served.

Blended Learning

Blended learning has become more and more visible in the past few years. Here is one definition of blended learning:

"Integrates online with traditional face-to-face classroom activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner where 25% - 74% of instruction occurs online."

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has a large blended (hybrid) learning program.

The University of Illinois at Chicago has an initiative on blended learning, and each year hosts a national workshop on blended learning.

Penn State has an initiative for blended learning.

Finally, the Sloan Consortium offers faculty development in the area of blended learning.

Oakley's Online Class at UIS

I teach a fully online course at the University of Illinois at Springfield - CS442 - "Internet and American Life". This course explores the impact that the Internet is having on our society. It promotes critical thinking and uses a constructivist pedagogy.

All undergraduate students are required to take a minimum of 13 hours in the Engaged Citizenship Common Experience (ECCE), a set of courses tied to UIS' heritage, mission, vision, and values. Most of the coursework in this category is interdisciplinary, and these courses provide a distinctive element to the baccalaureate education at UIS.

CS442 is in the ECCE category of U.S. Communities. Courses in this category aim to broaden students' knowledge about substantial, distinctive, and complex aspects of the history, society, politics, and culture of United States communities.

Intellectual Property and Online Course Development

The entire topic of the ownership of intellectual property as it applies to online courses developed by University of Illinois faculty with University funding was studied extensively in the late 1990's. A number of documents on this topic are online at:

Of many possibilities, it seems best if the faculty member owns the intellectual property, but grants the University a royalty-free license in perpetuity to use the IP and to make a derivative work for use in its educational programs.

Alternatively, the University can own the IP and grant the faculty creator a royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use the IP.

The Master Teacher Model

I am a strong proponent of the Master Teacher model, which allows institutions to scale-up their enrollments in a single online course by offering multiple course sections.

The master teacher is often a full-time faculty member (tenured or tenure-track) who developed the course.

Additional sections are taught by "co-instructors", who are supervised (and mentored) by the master teacher.

The co-instructors facilitate the discussions in their own sections, and are able to call on the specific expertise of the master teacher whenever problems arise.

Typically, the various sections have a common syllabus, common assignments, and common assessments. In addition, some online courses have a weekly synchronous session conducted by the master teacher, in which all students participate.