I. Visit from Donna Matsumoto, Institutional Self Evaluation Chair and Accreditation Liaison Officer [ALO]
Accreditation team leader / Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) Donna Matsumoto reported on the need to address Distance Education in the campus’ evaluation report. Donna’s work with institutional researcher Guy Nishimoto and her ALO training have indicated that the federal government has DE “in its crosshairs,” particularly because several for-profit organizations have abused their federal aid for DE programs.
Compliance issues have been passed down, creating a need for reporting on the following:
1. IR DATA FOR DE: Student-achievement data for face-to-face and DE courses needs to be disaggregated, to demonstrate quality DE instruction. Data needs to be used to plan improvements. With more online sections/faculty and students with low online preparedness, the student-success gap seems to be widening, and annual program review templates are now including DE data to analyze it. It is difficult to separate out DE assessment data, but we’re working toward it (it is a one-year goal).
Greg Walker mentioned that this is becoming an automatic process for IR, and online results will be available six months after the current semester. He said that there used to be very little difference in student success between face-to-face and online sections, and DE was better, if anything; he is surprised at the gap. He will create an annual DE report that will be public, available to everyone.
2. INTEGRITY OF COURSES: Faculty preparation, class interaction, services available to students, professional development, and course, integration with the college’s mission need to be upheld in online courses at a level equal to that of face-to-face sections. Peter Quigley, at the system office, is putting together a strategic plan (perhaps to include some form of certification). We are doing an LCC plan, for which training is an issue.
Susan Waldman pointed out that there are different faculty development and student development standards/practices on different campuses. Donna says we should be doing research about student preparation, etc. Meredith added that Lexer Chou [Student Life Coordinator] has recommended that online course discussions for New Student Orientation [NSO] should be included during students’ one-on-one meetings with their counselors, to assure that students registering for online courses are prepared for them. Greg added that the existing Laulima orientation at NSO is primarily training for face-to-face classes but that current students are much better than those from five years ago at picking up Laulima skills.
Meredith emphasized the need for addressing issues of responsibility, etc. (not just Laulima tools) when looking at online preparedness. Most students, she added, are not yet thinking about online when at NSO; that comes later (once students are looking at registering for courses.
Heather said that one-on-one counselor appointments are the best time for addressing these issues because not all students are interested in online courses.
Greg will be creating a DE handbook for students, for accreditation. (Students at many campuses have to go through a credit course on being a successful online student. Instructors ofren must do same for their online teaching.) He stressed, however, that pointing students to a handbook is not enough; this puts the burden on instructors to teach students how to be online students. He said that students need the experience of preparing, and we (DE) now have the opportunity–since creating such programs is an accreditation item–to put some sort of online training into place, and that we need to include a request (in the report) for this requirement. This is a strong vehicle for creating positive change.
Greg added that most complaints from online students are related to courses’ lack of integrity (instructors not responding to emails, instructor lack of presence, etc.). Meredith pointed out the [opposite] issue also at play: some students don’t WANT integrity in their courses—they just want them to be easier than face-to-face courses (and expect that).
3. DE AND INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: DE needs to be integrated into the strategic plan, goals, priorities, mission, etc.; but DE currently isn’t–it “grew up on its own” as we offered more online courses. Now we have the opportunity to think about these things (goals), which may pose one of the biggest problems for our campus.
Faculty are not compensated for creating online courses, and it is not part of their contract. Donna says there used to be overload/compensation for creating online courses. Although
Greg did once secure grant money to work with faculty on designing courses, the instructors weren’t doing the work.
Donna says the current goal is actionable improvement plans; she urged DE Committee members to comment on the report draft that came out today; where DE was not included, there are prompts in blue. Hundreds of references to DE need to be addressed. Standard II is most pertinent (2a especially—focus on this section). Donna wrote some curriculum-related narrative herself and had administrators look through it. Standard 2b has the same issues. Standard 2c is okay—we have good resources for DE (library, etc.); Helmut put in lots about resources. Standard 1 still needs work.
Donna says we are doing a lot of best practices for DE—we just need to put the information in the report so that it is on people’s “radar” (which it wasn’t when they were writing their sections–they weren’t familiar with our DE policies/practices, so they were not included).
The Committee brainstormed on how DE information can be added to the report (since Greg and Leanne can’t do it by Nov. 9 on their own); it was suggested that available DE Committee members meet on the Nov 18 work day and draft the missing DE sections.
Long term, the DE Committee–which currently reports to Vice Chancellor Pecsok–might eventually become a Faculty Senate subcommittee, in which case Greg will no longer be chair. Greg says that a FS committee would be ideal as we need more faculty involvement with DE. Warren says that no matter what form the DE Committee takes, it should still also maintain a connection to the EMC.