In March 2013, Valencia College contracted the services of Diane Meiller & Associates (DMA) to perform an assessment of the current state of Valencia College’s online learning practices.
As part of the assessment process, DMA conducted in-person interviews with deans, faculty and staff in May 2013, and those who were unable to attend one of the group sessions received a survey so they could provide their feedback on the process as well. In addition, several former Valencia students who had taken online classes were interviewed about their learning experience.
Pertinent data such as rates for enrollment and overall success and withdrawal was also collected, including the success and withdrawal rates for each of the top ten high-enrollment online courses.
DMA commended Valencia for applying the same learning-centered approach that is used in our face-to-face classes in the online learning environment; however, the assessment also revealed several areas where we have opportunities to improve, particularly in terms of providing a consistent experience to students, faculty and adjuncts. DMA recommended that the College make changes in the following key areas:
- Student Readiness – Provide additional support to ensure students are prepared for online coursework.
- Faculty Readiness – Ensure faculty are prepared by providing a means for sharing of tools, techniques and best practices for online learning.
- Course Development – Provide additional resources to assist with course quality, organization and ease of use.
- Adjunct Faculty Support – Produce course templates that will reduce the amount of time adjuncts spend creating online course materials.
- Dean Training – Supply deans with training and support in the observation and evaluation of online courses.
- Enrollment and Scheduling – Improve coordination of enrollment and scheduling efforts on campuses.
- Book and Course Materials Acquisition – Arrange for books and other course materials for online classes to be easily procured by our students.
With the exception of a recommendation to create a “Center for Online Learning” that would provide centralized support for and administration of online learning, we already have efforts underway to address most of the issues. For example, a student readiness module is currently in development, and the Instructional Affairs Committee (IAC) has convened a work group to review the training and development for deans.
Please remember that the recommendations are simply that — recommendations. We will continue to move forward in the way that best reflects our values and traditions, and best meets the needs of our students. The report has been presented to the College Learning Council and IAC, and both groups are discussing ways to improve our online learning practices for both faculty and students.
If you have questions about the report, please contact Bill White, chief information officer at firstname.lastname@example.org (or extension 1185) or Susan Ledlow, vice president of academic affairs and planning at email@example.com (or extension 3423). If you would like to comment on the report, please share your thoughts below.