Designing and Implementing a Student-Centered Online Graduate Program: A Case Study in a College of Education

Designing and Implementing a Student-Centered Online Graduate Program: A Case Study in a College of Education

Sean J. C. Lancaster (Grand Valley State University, USA) and Andrew Topper (Grand Valley State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5769-2.ch007
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


This chapter presents a case study analysis of a graduate program that moved from initial design to effective implementation of student-centered online instruction. The authors describe their experiences designing, implementing, and evaluating an online M.Ed. degree program in a college of education—the first fully online degree program at a large, Midwestern, regional institution of higher learning. The design and approval process took almost four years, including both internal and external approvals. Initially implemented in 2011, the authors gathered three years of follow-up data about the program and evaluated its success using a variety of factors, including course- and program-level data. Program design, development, implementation, and evaluation are all addressed in this case study.
Chapter Preview


The COE and this specific program are part of a regional, public institution of higher education in the Midwestern United States. Approximately 25,000 students are enrolled at the university, of which 3,100 are graduate students. The COE has 3240 students overall, with 908 graduate students. Prior to the development of this online degree, almost all of the students who enrolled in the program resided in the local region. Most students in the M.Ed. degree in EDT are full-time educators, primarily teaching in K-12 settings. Roughly 92% of the students enrolled in both the hybrid and online graduate programs are White, non-Hispanic, with 65% female and 35% male.

Leading up to development of this online graduate program in EDT, the COE faculty started teaching hybrid courses in 2004 and online courses starting in 2006. There was clear evidence at the time of the need to offer the entire program online, with anticipated changes in state funding for education graduate degrees and national competition for graduate students. Having successfully developed, implemented, and evaluated hybrid and online graduate courses, faculty saw a fully online degree as a natural extension to the existing hybrid program.

The goals of the COE’s M.Ed. degree in educational technology are to:

prepare educators at all levels to integrate technology into their teaching and learning, advocate for effective use of technology, manage technology resources, work in local or national educational institutions, and explore the benefits of technology for instruction and assessment ... prepare educators and leaders to enhance the potential of their students and colleagues, as well as evaluate social and ethical implications of educational policies, practices, and programs.

The program is built around the following student-centered themes or influences, both internal and external:

  • Changing nature of teaching, learning, and the role of technology

  • Organizational theories of educational technology adoption

  • Integration of technology in support of instruction, learning, and assessment

  • Research evidence applied to classroom practice

  • Advocating for and coaching colleagues in educational technology

  • Professional development communities in education

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Presence: When students feel like they belong in an online class and that their contributions are valued.

Student-Centered: When a class is developed and taught in a way that values the students enrolled and allows students to help steer and control their own learning.

Instructor Presence: Occurs when students perceive an instructor to be involved in the online teaching and learning process.

Accreditation: The process where educational institutions are external evaluated to ensure quality is being met by the institution.

Hybrid Class: When participants have some face to face sessions and some fully online sessions (e.g., typically, between 15% and 99% online).

Online Class: When a class is 100% online with no traditional, face-to-face sessions.

Faculty: Individuals hired by the institution as tenured or tenure-track, affiliate, or adjunct responsible for developing and teaching courses.

Asynchronous Online Discussions: Text-based discussions that occur without the need for all participants to be present at the same time.

Online Program: Includes a series of required or optional online courses that taken together represent a program of completion with no traditional, face-to-face requirements.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: