A Model for Online Instruction and Faculty Assessment

A Model for Online Instruction and Faculty Assessment

Michael Thomas Shaw (SilkWeb Consulting & Development, USA) and Thomas M. Schmidt (University of Phoenix, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-936-6.ch002
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Differing methods of course development can lead to widely varying results. The University of Phoenix develops courses for both on-campus and on-line (e-learning) delivery, using electronic collaboration as well as in-person teamings. Course developers at the University rigorously measure feedback about course materials, and revise courses based on learners’ input. This paper describes a model for developing and delivering e-learning doctoral-level curricula based on current research and a learner needs analyses. Suggestions for further improvements and surprising results about the most effective method for deriving E-learning materials are explored.
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The Original Model

Moskal (2006) investigated online student satisfaction. The authors found that 83% of learners indicated that they were satisfied with their program of study, citing convenience and flexibility as the major reasons. Eighty percent of students polled attributed their ability to complete their respective course of study to the online modality. Universities around the world are increasingly turning to this mode of education, making it necessary to review common approaches and practices.

The online environment possesses several advantages and some disadvantages over a classroom environment. Tallent-Runnels (2005) discussed best practices related to online instruction. They focused on five enabling factors for successful online courses, including organization of the platform, pace of learning, support for learning, resources available to students, and maintaining a welcoming environment.

The platform is the substructure that supports the online course. The methods used to organize the platform significantly affect learning outcomes. Ideally, the platform is logically organized into folders containing resources that meet the needs of both faculty and students. According to a review conducted by Tallent-Runnels, online courses should organize electronic resources and materials in weekly folders.

Pacing is another significant element of online instruction. Findings by Tallent-Runnels indicate that students appreciate the ability to move at their own pace. Not surprisingly, their evidence strongly supports asynchronous discussions and faculty feedback. Asynchronous discussions allow students to research and debate ideas and create a virtual community. To further this fostering of community, faculty should provide timely feedback. Without feedback, students tend to withdraw from discussion.

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