Submitted Fall, 2006
DISTANCE EDUCATION ASSESSMENT PLAN
Division of Continuing Education
By Gloria Vavricka, Director of eCampus
BACKGROUND OF ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
The North Central Association (NCA) external team visited campus in the Spring of 2004. They identified the need for Continuing Education to assess student satisfaction regarding the effectiveness of distance education. The Assessment Coordinator worked closely with the Director of eCampus to develop an assessment framework for assessing both satisfaction with online education formats and departmental online degree programs. The Assessment Coordinator and the Director of eCampus met with all departments offering online programs in October 2005 to discuss assessment needs. A goal was established to have every department offering online degrees develop an assessment plan that met the framework criteria by May 2006. The goal was actually met by the end of October 2005. The Division of Continuing Education submitted the overall plan for online learning in May 2006 and began collecting data in Spring and Summer 2006.
DEVELOPMENT OF ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENTS
This report addresses the students’ reactions to the online delivery of courses, as well as faculty reactions to teaching online courses. Two assessment instruments were developed with input from the Director of Assessment, Director of eCampus, and two Instructional Designers (see Appendix B). The Student Surveys were conducted in April 2006 for the Spring Semester and in July for the Summer Sessions. In April 2006, the Faculty Survey was administered for Spring Semester only since many of the same faculty taught in the summer sessions. The following sections of this report address the results of these surveys.
In April 2006, 784 online students were invited to complete the student evaluation for online courses. Out of those 784, there were 266 invitees who responded, resulting in a 34 percent response rate. In July 2006, there were 641 online students invited to complete the evaluation and 313 completed the survey, resulting in a 51 percent response rate. This section will address the students overall reactions to the delivery of online courses.
For the following questions, students’ responses will include those who either “strongly agree,” “agree,” or “neither strongly agree or disagree.” Spring responses are given first and Summer responses follow.
Student Satisfaction of Delivery Method
The students overall satisfaction of the online delivery method for courses is positive with over 92 percent indicating they were comfortable with the delivery method and would take another course from UNK and would recommend others to take an online course from UNK.
- I am comfortable with the online delivery method: 92%, 92%
- I would take another online course from UNK: 96%, 92%
- I would recommend UNK online courses/programs to others: 93%, 91%
- I would benefit if there were more online programs at UNK: 79%, 71%
Data from this indicates that the students are comfortable with the online delivery method and would take another online course at UNK. With nearly 80 percent of the students indicating they would benefit if there were more programs at UNK, Continuing Education will continue to collaborate with departments in developing new programs. The three challenges in accomplishing this are funding, staffing, and accreditation approval.
- Funding – The non-resident distance education tuition differential fund is an opportunity to expand online programs. This fund continues to grow and should provide the necessary funding for new programs.
- Staffing – With the rapid increase of online enrollment and only two instructional designers on staff, it is recommended that another instructional designer be hired in 2006-07.
- Accreditation Approval – For certain programs to be transitioned to an online format, approval is needed by the North Central Association. An NCA visitation team will return to the UNK campus in Spring 2008 to review those programs. There are departments on campus that are approved for online delivery; however, they are not using this format. These programs are the undergraduate and graduate business degree programs. Continuing Education will meet with them in 2006-07 to discuss the need of transitioning their programs to an online format.
Comparing Online Courses to Traditional Face-to-Face Courses
When comparing online courses to traditional face-to-face courses, students prefer online courses because they are more convenient, they learn more, and feel more involved.
- Compared to traditional courses, online courses are more convenient: 93%, 93%
- I believe that I learn more through online courses than through traditional courses: 72%, 63%
- I prefer online courses to traditional courses: 79%, 67%
- Compared to traditional courses, I feel more involved in online courses/programs: 67%, 65%
In 2006-07, a more in-depth assessment will be conducted to determine if the online course requirements are comparable to the face-to-face course requirements.
Student Performance Satisfaction
Students were overwhelmingly satisfied with their performance in their online course, their attainment of knowledge, the work produced, the ability to interact with their instructor, the ease of communication, and the sense of community.
Overall, in online courses, how satisfied are you with:
- Your performance: 96%, 93%
- The overall attainment of knowledge: 92%, 89%
- Your work produced: 97%, 96%
- Your ability to interact with the instructor: 89%, 88%
- The ease of student-to-student communication: 91%, 89%
- The sense of community: 86%, 85%
- The relationships you have with your instructors: 91%, 84%
No changes are recommended at this time.
Student Support Services
Students who accessed the following services were satisfied with the support services provided by UNK. The highest satisfaction was with the eCampus Office, Library, Admissions, Registrars, and Advising. There were many students who did not use the service which is indicated in the number in parentheses.
Overall, how satisfied are you with the following services for your online courses/programs?
- eCampus: 74% (25%); 70% (30%)
- Help Desk: 50% (48%); 50% (47%)
- Library: 64% (33%); 55% (43%)
- Writing Center: 19% (80%); 26% (74%)
- Admissions: 76% (25%); 74% (24%)
- Financial Aid: 49% (50%); 45% (53%)
- Registrars: 76% (23%); 76% (22%)
- Finance: 59% (40%); 53% (44%)
- Advising: 60% (35%); 52% (43%)
Online students indicate they are taking advantage of the student support services provided by UNK with the exception of the Writing Center. The reason that nearly 80 percent are not using the Writing Center may be because they are unaware of its existence or their instructor is not encouraging the use of the Center. Continuing Education, in collaboration with the Writing Center, will increase the awareness of the Writing Center services in 2006-07 to both the students and faculty.
In Spring Semester 2006, there were 47 faculty teaching online. Out of those 47, there were 28 invitees who responded, resulting in a 59 percent response rate. Because many of the same faculty who taught in the Spring also taught in the Summer, the survey was not distributed in July. This section will address the overall reaction of the faculty who teach online courses.
For the following questions, facultys’ responses will include those who either “strongly agree,” “agree,” or “neither strongly agree or disagree.”
Satisfaction of Delivery Method
The overall faculty satisfaction of the online delivery method for courses is positive with over 84 percent indicating they were comfortable with the delivery method and 97 percent indicating they would teach another course at UNK.
- Currently, I am comfortable teaching with the online delivery method: 84%
- I would teach another online course from UNK: 97%
- I would encourage other UNK faculty to teach an online course: 89%
No changes are recommended at this time.
Comparing Online Courses to Traditional Face-to-Face Courses
When comparing teaching online courses to traditional face-to-face courses, a slight majority, 53 percent, of the faculty prefer this. The reason that only half prefer online appears to be the fact that 99 percent indicated that it takes more time to prepare and teach an online course than a traditional course.
- I prefer teaching online courses to traditional courses: 53%
The responses for the next two questions included more of the same:
- Compared to traditional courses, the time I spend preparing for my online course is: 78% more; 21% the same
- Compared to traditional courses, the time I spend teaching online courses is: 64% more; 32% the same
Because faculty indicate that they spend much more time preparing and teaching their online course compared to a traditional course, additional support services are recommended. As mentioned previously, additional instructional design support would alleviate the heavy workload faculty are experiencing when preparing an online course. In addition, adequate compensation for the faculty preparation time in developing an online course is also recommended.
Faculty were overwhelmingly satisfied with their students’ performance in their online course, the ease of student-to-student interaction, the ability to make changes in their course materials, and the ease of student submissions.
Overall, in online courses, how satisfied are you with:
- Your students’ performance: 85%
- Your ability to interact with students: 71%
- The ease of student-to-student communication: 92%
- The sense of community felt among the students: 75%
- The relationships you have with your students: 67%
- Your ability to make changes to your course materials: 92%
- The ease of student submission of papers, presentations, other assignments or exams: 99%
- The ease of providing feedback, grades, or other information to your students: 78%
No changes are recommended at this time.
Faculty Support Services
Faculty who accessed the following services were satisfied with the support services provided by UNK. The highest satisfaction was with the information sessions offered such as technology training, workshops, and eLuncheons. There were 67 percent of the faculty who did not use the Online Writing Center. The first percentage represents the faculty who were satisfied, followed by the percentage of faculty who were unsatisfied, and then by those who did not use the service.
Overall, how satisfied are you with the following services for your online courses/programs?
- Training for your online course development: 82%, 10%, 7%
- Instructional Design Support: 75%, 10%, 14%
- Information Sessions offered: 92%, 0%, 7%
- eCampus: 85%, 0%, 14%
- Help Desk: 84%, 7%, 7%
- Library: 85%, 0%, 14%
- Writing Center: 31%, 0%, 67%
Data indicates that faculty are generally satisfied with the instructional design support. The training offered, as well as the information sessions, by the instructional designers indicated that they are meeting the needs of the online faculty. However, as the number of online faculty grows, more instructional design support is recommended. The only service that is being used minimally by the online faculty is the Writing Center. Even though the instructional designers have promoted the online Writing Center in various methods, i.e., workshops, eLuncheons, newsletters, emails, and training sessions, there appears to still be many faculty who are unaware of its existence. Continuing Education, in collaboration with the Writing Center, will increase the awareness of the Writing Center services in 2006-07.
STUDENT AND FACULTY COMMENTS
In open comments on the student survey, there were two questions asked. The first one was “What things are done well in online courses or programs at UNK?” There were a total of 169 responses with the majority of those giving positive remarks about the teachers, as well as the flexibility and convenience of online courses.
Out of the 169, 37 of those commented positively regarding their instructors on how well-organized they were or complimenting them on their good communication skills and interaction with the students. A few examples are:
“Very organized classes with knowledgeable instructors.”
“My instructor is very good about keeping us posted.”
“All my instructors have organized the information well.”
“I love the online courses. The professors are great.”
“There is more interaction with the professor.”
“The interaction between the instructor and me are wonderful.”
Out of the 169 positive responses, 44 of the students made reference to the flexibility and convenience of online courses. A few of those are as follows:
“Most of the courses were set up to be convenient for working people.”
“I love my online course because it allows me flexibility.”
“I like the flexibility of the online courses.”
“I like the convenience.”
The second question was “What suggestions would you give to make improvements in online courses or programs at UNK?” There were 164 responses with the majority of those expressing the need for more online courses and giving suggestions to faculty on how they can improve their courses.
Out of the 164 responses, 32 of those indicated that more online courses were needed. Some of those comments are:
“Need more of them.”
“Add more classes.”
“Offer more programs.”
“Need to expand into other departments or degree programs.”
There were 48 comments providing feedback on the instructors with the majority of the comments suggesting that faculty do better about responding and providing feedback. They are:
“Quicker responses from professors.”
“Encouragement of instructor feedback.”
“Need faster feedback from instructors.”
“Quicker turnaround time on written assignments.”
Comments indicate that many students are satisfied with the online instructors and appreciate the flexibility and convenience that online courses offer. To address the need of additional online degree programs and courses, funding and staffing need to be improved. Additional funding and staffing are being pursued. Because of the students’ comments referring to faculty who need to respond more quickly, the Instructional Designers will emphasize the need to do this in their communication, consulting, and training with faculty.
Online enrollment at UNK has steadily increased since 2001 when online courses were first offered. As indicated in the chart below, online enrollment has grown from 544 enrollments in 2001-02 to 3,303 enrollments in 2005-06, an increase of 2,759 students or 507 percent.
Retention rates for online courses are as follows for 2005-06:
Fall 2005: 841 enrolled; 43 withdrew; 95% retention rate
Spring 2006: 1,089 enrolled; 56 withdrew; 95% retention rate
Summer 2006; 1,558 enrolled; 185 withdrew; 88% retention rate
Data indicates that the UNK student retention rate for online courses is above the nationwide rates of 50 to 90 percent. No change is recommended at this time.
FACULTY SUPPORT SERVICES
There are six areas of support services provided to faculty to ensure quality courses. They are the following: Course & Program Assistance, Multimedia Development, Funding Opportunities, Training & Information, Program Development, and Marketing & Recruiting.
Course & Program Assistance
Course Consultation – One of the main support services offered to faculty is online course consultation. The instructional designers routinely help faculty to improve the quality of the courses offered by UNK. The instructional designers assist faculty with developing online courses by matching learning outcomes and teaching strategies with technology solutions. They help faculty to organize materials, develop assessment tools, develop discussion board topics, find materials and learning objects, create community, etc.
Course Template - Two Blackboard templates have been developed and are available for the faculty teaching online courses. After discussions with faculty members, it appeared to the Instructional Design Team that the most daunting task to creating an online course is looking at Blackboard as a clean slate and trying to decide where to begin, what is needed, and how to arrange the materials to be most beneficial. Therefore, to help the faculty in their transition to online courses, Blackboard templates have been created. The templates are available in both module and weekly formats and include suggestions and tips to assist faculty in arranging and organizing their course.
Course Evaluation Instrument – Until recently, UNK online courses were evaluated using the standard course evaluation instruments of the colleges and were sent out via standard mail. The eCampus staff worked with the Continuing Education Faculty Senate Advisory Committee to develop a new instrument that more accurately assessed online courses and also helped promote a new online delivery model using a program called Opinio. The instrument and the delivery system are open for use by all faculty who are teaching online. In 2005-06, 14 courses with 246 students were surveyed using this new instrument.
Material Distribution – Many of the courses offered at UNK require students to have access to materials beyond the standard textbooks and other materials purchased from the bookstore. The eCampus Office mails such materials to students for faculty at no cost.
Interactive – Engaging learners in the online environment can be difficult. Many online courses are simple, text-based courses that rely on the textbook and have the students reading and taking tests. Interactivity in multimedia pieces can help to make students feel that they are involved with the course instead of just reading a book and answering questions. Any faculty members that wish to add an element of multimedia interactivity can work with the instructional designers to develop these types of projects. They may range from simple interfaces that allow the students to navigate to audio, video, images and text to projects that allow the students to interact with the programs on deeper levels for learning and self-assessment. The designers work extensively with faculty to develop these types of projects and correctly match learning outcomes with the interactive project.
Video & Audio – For some subjects, basic text and images do not produce the desired learning outcomes for students. When faculty members need more advanced audiovisual materials, the instructional designers or technicians step in to assist them. They can help direct and record both video and audio materials for faculty. When the recording process is finished, the raw video or audio are then edited and compressed for the preferred delivery mode, such as streaming, DVD or CD files or for use in interactive projects.
CD & DVD – Many of the students enrolled in UNK online courses do not yet have access to broadband Internet. Because of this, most of the supplemental video and audio materials needed must be delivered using non-Internet based mediums. CDs and DVDs are the most common form of delivery for these materials. The designers or technicians can author and mass produce CDs and DVDs on a large scale for shipment to students.
Streaming Video – Instructors may use streaming video in their online classes. The video may be live or archived and made available to the students as a link in Blackboard.
Web-Conferencing Software – In some cases, faculty who teach online want to have synchronous interaction with their students. To fill this need, web conferencing software is available. This system captures live real-time video, stores it and then manages the delivery of the video over local area networks and the Internet. This allows for students to either view the lectures in real-time or to view them at a later time when it is convenient for them.
Tutorials – In addition to course specific materials, the designers work with faculty and staff to develop multimedia tutorials on specific skills that are important to online learners. These tutorials are either video based or are created using a program called Macromedia Captivate which allows the creation of interactive video tutorials. Tutorial topics have included UNK specific Blackboard skills, UNK iNotes email skills, Microsoft Word skills and APA and MLA citation skills. Many of these tutorials were created to help faculty with the specific deficiencies of their students.
Web – Support is available to faculty for web design for instruction or promotion for their online courses.
Print – Some faculty also require print materials for their classes. Support is available for faculty to design these print-based materials or completely design and fabricate them on their own.
Podcasting and Vodcasting – Podcasting has become one of the most popular tools to use in online education this past year. Faculty at UNK are fast-becoming interested in this technology. A podcasting studio has been set up in the Communications Center for use by faculty. By Spring 2007, UNK plans to become a partner with Apple iTunes U. iTunes U is a free, hosted service for colleges and universities that provides easy access to educational content, including lectures and interviews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Through iTunes U, students will be able to download content to their computer regardless of their location. They can then listen to and view content on their computer or transfer that content to an iPod.
Desktop Recording – Using a simple webcam and PowerPoint setup along with a recording package like TechSmith’s Camtasia, faculty can record their lectures or demonstrations on their own computers at any time of the day or night. This allows them the flexibility to develop materials whenever they want. The files could then be sent to the eCampus Office for rendering into streaming video or could be pressed onto a CD or authored on to a DVD.
Training & Information
Summer Institute for Online Teaching (SIOT) – The Summer Institute for Online Teaching is an annual training program held in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. This five-week training session teaches faculty the basic principles of online education. Most of the SIOT is presented in an online format with reading, assignments, discussion boards and a chat session. Weekly face-to-face training sessions are also held to teach faculty on specific issues like copyright and software programs. Since 2004, 65 UNK faculty have completed the Summer Institute for Online Teaching.
Illinois Online Network (ION) – ION is a program devoted to the advancement of online education offering resources, training and information on technology, pedagogy and other areas. Some of the services now available to the UNK eCampus faculty are webinars, 4- and 8-week training courses on a variety of subjects, resources and contacts with other faculty and support staff working in the online education arena. UNK is the first school outside of Illinois to form a partnership with the Illinois Online Network. There were 25 faculty in 2005-06 who took advantage of either the webinars or the seminars available through ION.
eLuncheon – In the fall of 2004, a series of seminars on distance education topics called eLuncheons were offered. These seminars are held three times a semester and focus on a wide range of topics related to distance education. Former topics included student support services, learning objects, podcasting, multimedia technology and even featured guest speakers. The eLuncheons are a way for faculty to pick up information on some of the latest technology and pedagogy as well as network with their peers. In 2005-06, there were 5 eLuncheons with 182 faculty or staff in attendance.
Technology & Pedagogy Sessions – The instructional designers offer several workshops on technology and pedagogy every semester. These two-hour workshops cover technology topics like beginning Photoshop, Acrobat and multimedia development and pedagogy topics such as online testing, collaboration and dissemination of online materials. These workshops are designed to give faculty members a better understanding of the online educational environment as well as give them technology skills to develop some of their own multimedia materials. In 2005-06, there were 10 sessions available with 75 people attending.
Department Presentations – In some cases, individual departments and colleges ask for training on specific subjects or software packages. In this case, the instructional designers set up special presentations to cover these areas. These presentations are similar to the Technology & Pedagogy sessions that are open to the entire campus.
Weekly Wired Wisdom (WWW) – Weekly Wired Wisdom is a weekly email newsletter that is sent by an instructional designer to specific faculty and staff who are active in online education. The newsletter is composed of four sections: From the Editor, Technobabble, Virtually Educated and Did You Know…? Important events and dates are announced in the From the Editor section, Technobabble helps to keep faculty up on current computer and technology trends, Virtually Educated focuses on the pedagogy of online learning and Did You Know…? is a miscellaneous section. In 2005-06, there were 25 issues distributed to 125 faculty or staff.
Online Teaching Tips (OTT) - Online Teaching Tips was created in the Summer of 2005. An instructional designer sends out an email each Monday to the faculty who are teaching online courses, the deans and assistant deans. The Online Teaching Tips are designed to be a short hint to help the faculty in course development and maintenance. In 2005-06, there were 23 issues distributed to 99 subscribers.
eCampus Newsletter – Every year, the Division of Continuing Education sends out a print newsletter to faculty and staff on the UNK campus. The eCampus Newsletter contains articles on topics like enrollment, new and distinguished programs, upcoming events and new services.
Atomic Learning – One of the most crucial skills that online faculty need are technology skills. To help faculty who may not have all of the skills necessary for online education, the eCampus Office purchased a license to Atomic Learning for every faculty member teaching by distance. Atomic Learning offers video tutorials on a wide range of computer programs including Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, Photoshop, Blackboard and more. These tutorials are also available for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms.
Online Seminars – There are many online seminars that are available to the educational community. Faculty are routinely informed of these seminars and encouraged to participate. The staff of eCampus is continually looking for interesting and informative seminars to present to the faculty and staff.
Publications – There are currently two publications that are distributed to the faculty and staff involved with UNK’s eCampus community. The first, Online Cl@ssroom, is a monthly newsletter that focuses on the pedagogy of online instruction. The second is a free monthly newsletter, Sloan-C View, which focuses on pedagogy and other aspects of online courses and programs. These publications are distributed in Weekly Wired Wisdom.
Distance Education Course Development Stipend (previously known as the “Summer Stipend Program”) – In 2005-06, a maximum amount of $2500 was available to faculty members who were interested in developing distance education courses. The first half was paid when the application was approved and the second half was paid upon completion of the course. In 2005-06, a total of $101,000 was paid to faculty for the development of distance education courses.
Grant Application for the Development or Enhancement of Distance Education Programs – A maximum amount of $15,000 was available to departments who were interested in developing new programs or enhancing existing distance learning programs. A total of $51,131.20 was paid out to departments in 2004-05.
Non-Resident Differential Tuition – This policy was established by the University allowing departments who offer a distance program to establish their own non-resident tuition. The difference between the resident and non-resident is returned to the colleges to be used for the future development of distance education programs. In 2005-06, there was $155,031 returned to the colleges to be used for the future development of online programs.
Tuition Revenue Policy – In 2005-06, the University of Nebraska adopted a new policy regarding tuition levels that will allow campuses to set “differential” tuition rates for particular programs or offerings starting in 2006-07. If the tuition generated exceeds expected revenues, that surplus will be returned to the campus. This concept is similar to the “Non-Resident Differential Tuition” described above; however, this new policy now applies to all programs, either on-campus or by distance. If a surplus occurs, the method of allocation has not yet been defined.
The Division of Continuing Education is an extension of the academic departments by collaborating with them in the development of eCampus programs. The departments are responsible for curriculum development, hiring faculty, and scheduling courses. When a department is proposing a new program to be offered, the Director of eCampus works closely with the department and will advise them in program development and discuss the various services that the Division of Continuing Education can provide.
Marketing & Recruiting
The Division of Continuing Education collaborates with departments providing marketing support services for their online programs and courses. If a department is interested in offering an online program, the Director of eCampus will meet with them to discuss a marketing campaign. Marketing strategies provided by Continuing Education involve advertising in the eCampus Schedule, Educators’ Schedule, newspapers, brochures, flyers, radio, postcards, newspapers, eCampus web site, and a few higher education web portals, such as eLearners.com, Gradschools.com, and U.S. News and World Report site.
STUDENT SUPPORT & SERVICES
Student support services are provided in the areas of orientation and information, as well as technical support.
Orientation & Information
Online Student Orientation – Students who are new to online education are encouraged to go through the Online Student Orientation. This orientation includes areas in Blackboard, UNK email, tuition and fees, financial aid, library services, writing center services and much more. There are also self-evaluation quizzes at the end of each section.
Welcome Letter & Quick Start Guide – Each semester the eCampus Office sends out a welcome letter and quick start guide to every student enrolled in an online course. The “Welcome Letter” includes information on some of the important services available to them as well as instructions on what to do to start their online course. The “Quick Start Guide” includes information and links to help the students in their coursework. This guide is meant to be an easy reference page for the students to use throughout the semester. These documents are sent out before classes begin except for those students who register after the semester begins.
Online Tutorials – A number of video and print tutorials are available to students via the eCampus Student Resources web page. Some tutorials are geared toward helping students to get started in their online courses (logging on to Blackboard and iNotes, a Blackboard tour and using the discussion board and virtual chat). Others are meant to improve their knowledge about programs and other skills. A set of tutorials on using Microsoft Word was developed at the request of a faculty member, also tutorials on proper citation in APA, MLA and Chicago styles have been made available. Other tutorials are in development including some on using the online services of the library.
Atomic Learning - One of the most crucial skills that online students need to have are technology skills. Without the ability to work with the programs and technology that deliver online education, it would not be possible to take online courses. To help students who may not have all of the skills necessary for online education, eCampus purchased a license to Atomic Learning for use by all eCampus students. Atomic Learning offers video tutorials on a wide range of computer programs including Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, Photoshop, Blackboard and more. These tutorials are also available for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. For more information on Atomic Learning, go to http://www.atomiclearning.com.
eCampus Support Services for Online Students Module – Easy access to specific services can make the end-user experience in an online course much more enjoyable. To assist with this, the instructional designers developed a module for Blackboard that can be added easily to the home page of a student’s Blackboard account. This module has links to important resources for online students. Instructions that show how to add the eCampus Support Services module to a student’s Blackboard homepage are available through the eCampus website and the “Welcome Letter.”
eCampus Updates – Anyone who wishes to stay informed about UNK’s eCampus can sign up for eCampus updates on the eCampus website. A link to the online sign-up form can be found on the home page. Every week, members receive an email informing them about the latest news and critical dates for online students as well as information on new courses and programs and new services that are being offered. In 2005-06, 20 updates were sent out to 125 subscribers.
eCampus Website – All of the services, tutorials and information listed above are available on the UNK eCampus website. The website also has comprehensive information on the programs that are offered. In addition, the eCampus Schedule is always published in digital format on the website before it is printed and mailed to students. The eCampus website has comprehensive information on many of the different aspects of eCampus support and services as well as links to other departments that eCampus students would find useful.
Academic & Technical Support
Library - The UNK Library staff has been tireless supporters of online programs. One of the keys to offering successful online graduate and undergraduate programs is the availability of library materials for research and writing papers. All UNK online students can access library services online. Some of the services provided by the library include: Ask a Librarian, Interlibrary Loan, Magazine & Journal Databases, UNK Library Catalog and Reference Resources. Video tutorials have been developed on how to search the library’s magazine and journal indexes as well as basic library skills.
Writing Center –The Online Writing Center offers three ways to give help to students. Students can post questions on the discussion boards, schedule a time for a real-time chat or they can submit their papers to the staff for suggestions. In addition to the review process and answer services, there are also interactive tutorials on citing sources in APA and MLA styles which were developed by an Instructional Designer with assistance from the Director of the Writing Center. Since 2004, over 400 students have taken advantage of the online Writing Center.
Technology Support – For technology issues related to any material developed in the Division of Continuing Education, students can contact the instructional designers by phone or email. The instructional designers will diagnose their problems and help the students to get the software running. In cases where the software is not functioning because of a problem with the media or if the problem cannot be fixed, the instructional designer will immediately send out a new copy of the disc and ask that the student return the old disc for diagnosis.
Software & Hardware – Software and hardware are available to online students through UNK Connections (the campus computer store) at a discounted price. One of the software packages is free anti-virus software which is mailed out from the eCampus Office.
Proctoring – The eCampus Office offers two different test proctoring services for students. First, students who live in or around the Kearney area can set up proctored tests with the secretary. She is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday for proctoring. Secondly, students who cannot come to campus but need to take a proctored test are provided with a proctor sheet to find a proctor in their area. In 2005-06, there were 157 exams proctored to 41 students.
In summary, the feedback from the faculty and students assessment is positive. The students indicated they are satisfied with the online delivery method, as well as being satisfied with their performance in their online courses. Faculty are also satisfied with the online delivery method and satisfied with their students’ performance. Both students and faculty are satisfied with the support services provided. According to the survey results, there are two issues that need to be addressed. They are 1) the demand for more online programs and 2) the need to increase support to faculty because of the time-consuming task of developing and teaching an online course. The key to addressing both of these concerns is additional funding. A proposal is currently being reviewed to address this funding issue and could be implemented as soon as January 2007.