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Effectiveness evaluation
 

I.  DISTANCE AND DISTRIBUTED EDUCATION

ANNUAL REPORT 2005-2006

Mission

The Distance & Distributed Education Center is a university-wide function at UWG which serves to develop and enhance the university's ability to deliver education to students at remote locations, and to meet institutional distance learning goals. Through intercampus sharing of resources, the Distance and Distributed Education Center facilitates collaboration among university colleges and departments to deliver quality distance instruction, faculty and student services, and initiatives.

Goals

Goals and functions of this department mirror the institutional distance learning goals:

    • Work with faculty to plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment
    • In collaboration with other campus and state departments, maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning.
    • Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners.
    • Conduct continuous evaluation of distance and distributed learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the University's mission and adherence to quality standards.
    • Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning.

These goals are reviewed annually in March, by the Distance and Distributed Education Steering Committee, and revised as appropriate.

Statement of Outcomes, Processes to Assess These Outcomes, and Assessment Results Where Appropriate

Goal 1. Plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:
 

  • Student and faculty satisfaction with distance and distributed education courses is high.
    • Fall 2005 evaluations showed that 80% of distance students agreed that their attitude toward online learning was positive at the end of the term. 84 % agreed in Spring 2006. 89% in Summer 2005. 
    • 71% of students (Fall 2005) said they'd like to take more courses in future mostly online. (Spring 2006 - 76%; Summer 2005 – 80%).  
    • 61% (Fall 2005) of students said they'd like to take courses in the future completely online. (Spring - 64%; Summer – 69%) Spring and Summer semesters showed an increase of 2% or greater increase in this area from 2004 semesters. 
    • 88% (Fall 2005) said that their instructor was positive about the online component of their course. (92% in Spring 2006; 95% in Summer 2005).  Spring and summer semesters both showed an increase in this area from the 2004 semesters.
    • The number of faculty using distance technologies continues to increase. FY06 totals were 564 faculty, compared to 411 in FY05, and 376 in FY04. 
  • Student retention in distance and distributed education is comparable to that of traditional courses.

·          Fall 2005 retention for Distance students was 92.3% for distance students excluding eCore, compared to 89% for non-Distance students. Spring 2006 retention for Distance students was 93.9% excluding eCore, compared to 88.8% for non-Distance students.

·          eCore retention improved slightly, going from 71.4% in Fall 2004 to 78.0% in Fall 2006; and from 67.6% in Spring 2005 to 71.6% in Spring 2006.

·   Students enrolled in distance courses have access to student services.

    • The UWG Online Connection (http://www.westga.edu/~online/) provides easy web access for distance students to access student services.
    • February 2006 phone survey indicated that only 5% of students felt there needed to be improvements for distance students in the areas of advisement and 6% for orientation.
  • Student learning outcomes are comparable to those in traditional courses. (ex. http://coe.westga.edu/mit/outcomes/index.html)

o        These are generally the same as traditional and are evaluated on a departmental basis.

o        More than 78% of those students interviewed through random phone surveys indicated that they learned as much or more in a distance course as in a traditional course.

·   Interaction among student-faculty, and student-student are at least as high as in a traditional course.

    • Open-ended responses from written surveys Fall 2005, Summer 2005, and Spring 2006 surveys indicate that students appreciate the ability to interact at flexible times with faculty and other students. For Summer 2005, 89% of respondents agreed that having the flexibility to contribute to class discussions outside the classroom on my own time was valuable to them. (86% in Spring 2006; 81% in Fall 2005).
    • February 2006 phone survey showed that 40% reported less interaction in DL course with instructor and other students. This is consistent with the past three years, and down from 48% in February 2003.

·   Faculty demonstrate competence in developing distance courses whose academic standards and student learning are the same as those for other courses delivered.

o        All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.

o        Academic standards and student learning are evaluated on a departmental basis. The DDEC reviews student surveys, class by class, to assure that overall student satisfaction with the faculty and the course are adequate. Since 1998, there have only been two cases in which the faculty competence seemed questionable based on student complaints. These were referred to the appropriate department head and dean. Both faculty members have since left the institution.

·   The number of courses developed and offered through distance media meets the demand of the region's students.

    • The phone survey of February 2006 indicates that 25% of distance students believe there are not enough distance courses. This is down from 50% in 2003.
    • Although this is improving, a number of students mentioned in their open-ended responses on the phone survey that they need more online courses and online degree programs.


Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty. Student learning outcomes are assessed by academic units offering instruction. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 2. Maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty are trained and prepared to teach distance and distributed courses.
    • All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.
  • Students are able to receive immediate technical assistance through telephone or email.
    • The DDEC staff provide immediate response to technical questions from students weekdays from 8 am until 8 pm weekdays. Students may contact a statewide support line after hours.
    • Helpline satisfaction surveys indicate that all students in July 2005 – May 2006 ranked the amount of time it took them to get help at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Students and faculty are able to receive assistance through a central point-of-contact.
    • The DDEC provides a central point of contact for support for all UWG distance courses.
  • A variety of delivery methods are available.
    • In addition to the primary online mode of WebCT, distance courses may also utilize videoconferencing and Horizon Wimba Live Class Rooms / Voice Tools for synchronous or archived delivery of lectures featuring voice and visuals, and Impatica for simple audio-visual online presentations.
  • Distance courses are easily accessible to a growing number of students and potential students.
    • The total number of distance courses offered in FY06 was 308, compared to FY05 total of 292, compared to FY04 total of 243, compared to 132 in 2003, and 144 in 2002.
    • Downtime for courses residing on UWG servers is non-existent or minimal, with backup plans in place and utilized as needed.
    • Except for scheduled maintenance, the WebCT system has functioned without interruption since January 2002. Faculty use WebCT and Horizon Live as a backup to GSAMS.
    • All UWG WebCT courses are being migrated to the VISTA version, which will be housed on a centralized USG server. Migration will be complete by January 2007.

Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 3. Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Each distance course or program provides students with clear, complete and timely information on the curriculum, course and degree requirements, nature of faculty/student interaction, prerequisite technology competencies, technical requirements, availability of academic support service, financial aid resources and costs and payment policies. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/distancestudents/
    • Information available on web and syllabi for all distance courses and programs.
    • Information also available in online student handbook, and other online points of access for students.
  • Students express satisfaction with the level of academic and student services received when taking distance and distributed courses.
    • Fall 2006 phone survey students expressed general satisfaction.  The majority of complaints were course specific.
    • MEL: 90% of distance students surveyed in Feb. 2004 phone survey reported that they received prompt and courteous student support from West Georgia as a distance learner.
  • Students are aware of and utilize online resources available to them for academic and student support.
    • According to Fall 2005, Summer 2005, and Spring 2006, most students were either satisfied with support services, or said "did not apply," with the exception of Financial Aid where students mostly disagreed.  "Did not apply" usually referred to career services. 
    • Fifty-five percent of Fall 2005 distance students reported that they used library services, but 34% (Fall 2005) said they were unaware of library services available specifically for distance students. Sixty-eight percent of Feb. 2006 phone survey students also said they used library services. This is up from 64% in 2005 and 48% in Feb. 2003.
    • Phone survey indicated that as many as 53% (down from 77%) of DL students get orientation from the DDEC staff or instructor rather than through online or printed information. DDEC has prepared kit for instructors to use in orientation for those who choose, in order to make sure that all services are explained. An increasing percentage (38%) are utilizing online resources which points to a need to direct resources towards the maintenance and continual improvements of the online services
  • Enrolled students have reasonable and adequate access to the range of student services and resources appropriate to support their learning.
    • Distance students have access to the range of student services and resources that traditional students do, and also special services such as support from the DDEC, and special services from the library. Information regarding services is available at www.westga.edu/~online   

Assessment methods: Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 4. Conduct continuous evaluation of distance learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the University's mission. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty use results of evaluations to improve courses.
    • All distance faculty must complete the Distance Evaluation Summary form, documenting what changes they will make in future distance courses based on their student surveys.
  • Distance learning staff uses results of evaluations to improve programs and services as a whole.
    • The DDEC staff reviews evaluations and completes an annual effectiveness evaluation each June. A staff retreat is also held annually to assess staff quality standards, issues and plan for the next year.
  • The technologies selected are appropriate to meet course or program objectives.
    • The DDEC selects technologies for campus use and support based on student need, recommendations from other institutions, and cost-benefit.
    • Individual departments and instructors select from combinations of the various institutional technologies (WebCT, videoconferencing, Horizon Live) based on the program and course objectives.
  • Documentation of evaluations for each course and the overall distance program is available and accessible.
    • Overall evaluations for student written surveys, focus groups, phone surveys, retention and other data is available at the DDEC website ( www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/ )
    • Raw survey data is also maintained by the DDEC and each department offering distance courses.

Assessment methods: Faculty summary of evaluations each term, written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/data/eval/

Goal 5. Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning.  Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Our journal, conference, and certificate programs maintain excellent reputations among distance learning administrators in the United States and worldwide.
    • The journal is required reading for many institutional programs, including University of Nebraska's doctoral program in Higher Education, and is referenced in many papers and books.
    • The conference attracts a growing international audience of practitioners in the field.
  • Our Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration continues to increase in readership.
    • The average edition had 19,000 hits in 2005, up from 18,500 hits in 2004, up from 15,000 hits in 2003, up from 12,000 in 2002, and 8,000 in 2001.
    • In its ninth year of production, readers of our Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration span 34 countries. As of June 15, 2006, the journal had been accessed over 339,000 times.
  • UWG faculty conduct research to enhance distance courses at UWG and to provide scholarly information to their field.
    • UWG faculty and staff regularly present research at the DLA Conference and other conferences, including SITE, Educause, and other professional meetings. Many UWG faculty articles and books on distance learning are linked from the distance website.

Assessment methods: Certificate program and conference evaluations, readership data of journal, feedback from readers and participants.

Examples of Using of Assessment of Goals and Outcomes to Improve a Process

  1. Delivery methods: Some faculty indicated the continued need to incorporate use of multimedia in their courses, and their satisfaction with last year's purchase of the Impatica software for limited faculty use. The DDEC responded by expanding its handful of Impatica licenses to a site-wide license, in order to allow all faculty and student on campus to quickly and easily share narrated their Powerpoint presentations via WebCT . Impatica is now installed in many labs across campus. The more robust HorizonWimba Live Classroom services were also upgraded to a newer, more user-friendly version. A limited number of Camtasia screen-capture, audio, and video editing software license were purchased, for further exploratory development.  The DDEC sponsored the registration fee and travel expenses for14 faculty and 3 staff, so that they could attend iPod Innovation Day, a USG/ GCSU sponsored event on podcasting.
  2. Faculty training: Training housecalls were implemented in January 2004 in order to allow faculty to get just-in-time training to assist them in preparing for their distance courses.  200 housecalls were made in FY2006, up significantly from the 80 that were made in FY05.Also, as of July 2006, plans are underway to increase the resources available to those instructors who are primarily self-directed.
  3. eCore retention: Resources are increasingly being directed towards meeting the unique advisement and support needs of those engaged in online learning through eCore. A year-long evaluation and improvement process is currently underway.

Department Condition

Students: Student satisfaction with distance and distributed courses continues to be high. In Fall 2005, retention for distance courses was 92.3 percent. Eighty-nine percent of students reported that they had a positive attitude about distance learning after taking a course in Fall 2004 . 77% of phone survey respondents reported that they never had problems accessing the course or utilizing the WebCT in any way; this is a significant increase over the 48% who reported never having had problems last year. 

Course Offerings: The number of courses using WebCT has grown dramatically over the past five years, with this year's total estimated at an all-time high of 1610, up from 1318 last year.  The number of courses offered 90-100% via distance was 301, up from 233 one year ago, and 190 two years ago.   Enrollments in distance courses (51% or more of instruction time) were up to 5274 in FY06, from 4781 last fiscal year. Total distance and distributed enrollment supported by the DDEC climbed to 40691 from 36,655 last fiscal year. 

Resources: As the demand for distance learning courses and services has increased, so has the need for human resources. Two student assistants, funded by Student Technology Fees, have continued to be vital in providing first-level telephone support for distance students.

Department Achievements

  1. Continued to make multiple operational improvements, particularly in the area of evaluation and student services for distance students, based on suggestions and recommendations from SACS. We conducted 43 face-to-face student orientations in the classroom in FY06.
  2. Began the university's migration to the BOR's centralized WebCT Vista server, in Spring 2006, with all courses expected to be using WebCT Vista by December 2006.
  3. Conducted 286 one-on-one faculty and staff training sessions, up from 157 last year. The average training session lasts one-and-a-half hours.
  4. The DDEC began offering “housecalls ” to faculty who need assistance with distance learning in Spring 2004. Support staff were available to visit faculty in their offices on Monday and Wednesday mornings by appointment. Visits were limited to 45-minutes, and support was limited to providing assistance with WebCT course tools, demos of technologies and software (such as HorizonLive , Impatica , etc.) and basic course evaluation and improvement. 218 visits were made in FY06, up from approximately 80 made during FY2005.
  5. Published four quarterly editions of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Average number of visits to the site each month has climbed to 19,000, up from 18,500 last year.
  6. More than doubled the number of faculty workshops delivered, with a total of 80  Distance Learning group workshops, serving approximately 417 faculty; this is a significant increase from the 100 faculty workshop attendees last FY05.
  7. Delivered two sections of the Distance Learning Certificate Program to 28 participants from 12 states and 2 countries, including Venezuela.
  8. Delivered two sections of the Distance Education Certified Trainer Program to 21 participants from 10 states and 3 countries, including Canada and Greece.
  9. During FY ‘06, UWG continued to be number one among the eCore host institutions, in eCore enrollment. The University of West Georgia accounted for 37% of all students in eCore , averaging 497 students per term for the year.

Staff Productivity

DDEC staff members sponsored the fifth-annual Distance Learning Administration Conference at Jekyll Island in June 2006. The conference was attended by more than 150 distance learning professionals representing more than 30 states, and several countries. Melanie Clay served as conference director, and Stacey Rowland was conference manager.

Melanie Clay completed her doctoral studies, dissertation and final oral examination for a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership in Higher Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The title of her dissertation was “Training Practices and Participation of Faculty Preparing to Teach Online in the University System of Georgia: A Mixed Methods Study.” Graduation: August 2006.

Melanie Clay and Janet Gubbins prepared and presented "The Wonders of Just-in-Time Training," at DLA2006 in Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Melanie Clay prepared and presented "The Art of Mentoring Online Faculty: New Solutions to an Ancient Problem," at the Texas Distance Learning Association Conference.

Janet Gubbins and Chris Fearrington presented “Dr. D and Apollo Lounge: Innovative Ideas for Faculty Development” at the WebCT Conference.

Christy Talley presented two online workshops through Horizon Wimba's Desktop Lecture Series: “Horizon Wimba & Education: A Single Focus)” and “USG Brown Bag Presentation of Horizon Wimba.”

Stacey Rowland attended the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin; the Rock Eagle Annual Computing Conference in Eatonton, Georgia; and the Texas Distance Learning Association Conference in San Antonio.

Janet Gubbins and Chris Fearrington attended Ipod Innovation Day at Georgia College and State University.

Janet Gubbins attended nine desktop conferences, including “ePorfolios and NCATE,” “Online Mentoring,” “Introduction to Vista 4,” and “LiveClassroom Presenter Training.”

Christy Talley served as a College of Education peer mentor for distance faculty.

Melanie Clay continued to serve as editor-in-chief of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Stacey Rowland served as managing editor.

Effectiveness Evaluation

2005

2004

2003

2002

Past Annual Reports:

2003-2004

2002-2003

2001-2002

1999 - 2000

1998 - 1999

1997 - 1998

1996 - 1997


SACS Self Study Response to SACS



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