Fall 2015 - Volume 18 Issue 3


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The Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration is a peer-reviewed electronic journal offered free each quarter over the World Wide Web. The journal welcomes manuscripts based on original work of practitioners and researchers with specific focus or implications for the management of distance education programs. Click here to access our readership stats.
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Events & Learning

Distance Education
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August 24, 2015
Registration Deadline
November 9, 2015
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November 23, 2015
June 2016

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October 5, 2015
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January 11, 2016
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January 24, 2016
March 20, 2016

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October 5, 2015
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January 11, 2016

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January 25, 2016
May 2016

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October 5, 2015
Registration Deadline
January 11, 2016
Program Begins
January 25, 2016
June 2016

Thanks to the
University of West Georgia
for providing this webspace

Editorial Board

Dr. Melanie Clay
University of West Georgia
Melly's DLA Blog

Managing Editor
Ms. Kendall Dickey
University of West Georgia

Associate Editor
Ms. Julie Stone
University of West Georgia

Editorial Board
Dr. Mac Adkins
Troy University


Christopher L. A. Ahlstrom
Towson University

David Babb
University of North Georgia

Dr. R.-L. Etienne Barnett University of Atlanta (US) Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)

Mr. R. Thomas Berner
Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Kris Biesinger
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Dr. Beverly L. Bower
University of North Texas

Ms. Diane M. Burnette
University of Georgia

Erik Burns
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. W. Dean Care
Brandon University

Dr. Jason G. Caudill
King University

Yong Chen
Old Dominion University

Mr. Matthew N. Clay
University of West Georgia

Dr. Sherry A. Clouser
University of Georgia

Bradly Corlett

Dr. Ken Corley
Appalachian State University

Dr. Micheal Crafton
University of West Georgia

Dr. Muhammet Demirbilek
Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey

Dr. Robert N. Diotalevi
Florida Gulf Coast University

Pamala Dixon
University of West Georgia

Bruce Doney
Mercer University

Ms. Beth Evans
College Library of the City University of New York

Dr. Catherine L. Finnegan Advanced Learning Technologies,
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

Jan Flegle
American Public University System

Dr. Larry V. Flegle
American Military University

Tanacha Gaines
University of West Georgia

Dr. Cher C. Hendricks
University of West Georgia

Dr. Katy Herbold
Southern Utah University

Mrs. Laurie G. Hillstock
Virginia Tech

Mrs. Cathy Hochanadel
Kaplan University

Dr. Genell Hooper Harris
Centenary College of Louisiana

Dr. Scott L. Howell
Brigham Young University

Dr. Jason B. Huett
University of West Georgia

Dr. Thomas J. Hynes
Clayton State University

Dr. Sallie J. Johnson
USAF Air University, Air Command and Staff College

Dr. Harold J. Kearsley
Norwich University

Dr. John J. Ketterer
Jacksonville State University

Dr. James W. King
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

James Kinneer
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Irene Kokkala
University of North Georgia

Olabisi Kuboni (retired)
The University of West Indies

Dr. Sally Kuhlenschmidt
Western Kentucky University

Ms. Elizabeth D. Larzelere M.S.
New York Chiropractic College

Melissa Layne
American Public University System

Dr. Andrew Leavitt
University ofNorth Georgia

Dr. Nancy Lee
University of Nevada

Dr. Elke M. Leeds
Kennesaw State University

Christopher Mathews-Smith M.A.
Emory University

Dr. Jennifer McLean
Pennsylvania College of Technology

COL Philip A. McNair (USA, ret.)
American Public University System

Dr. Marc D. Miller
Augusta State University

Dr. Nancy Griffin Mims, Ed.D.
University of West Georgia

Dr. Mary Jo Muratore
University of Missouri - Columbia

Anna Obedkova
University of Texas of Arlington

Dr. Abbot L. Packard
University of West Georgia

Dr. Angie Parker
Northcentral University

Dr. Shawn M. Quilter
Eastern Michigan University

Dr. Ravic P. Ringlaben
University of West Georgia

Dr. Michael Rogers
Advanced Learning Technologies,
Board of Regents of the
University System of Georgia


Beth Rene Roepnack
University of West Georgia

Dr. Peter J. Shapiro
Director of Creative Learning Services
Florida State College at Jacksonville

Dr. LeAnn McKinzie Thomason
Brownsville, Texas

Mitzi P. Trahan, Ph.D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Thomas J. Tobin
Northeastern Illinois University

Dr. Joann Kroll Wheeler
Texas A & M University

Past OJDLA Editors
Dr. Stephen J. Anspacher
The New School

Dr. Michael Beaudoin
University of New England

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett
University of West Georgia

Janet Gubbins
University of West Georgia

Ms. Tammy Hamm-Ronsisvalle
Synergy Plus Inc.

Rayma Harchar, Ed. D.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Nataliya V. Ivankova
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Kathleen A. Kraus
State University of New York at New Paltz

Dr. Dwight Laws
Brigham Young University

Dr. George E. Marsh II
The University of Alabama


Dr. Barbara K. McKenzie
University of West Georgia

Dr. Paul F. Merrill
Brigham Young University

Mr. Bob Reese
Reese Consulting Associates, Inc.

Dr. M. D. Roblyer
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Mr. Timothy W. Seid
Earlham School of Religion

Dr. Barbara L. Watkins
University of Kansas

Current Issue

Donít Tell the Faculty: Administratorsí Secrets to Evaluating Online Teaching

Thomas J.

by Thomas J. Tobin

Administrators at many colleges and universities have had online courses at their institutions for many years, now. One of the hidden challenges about online courses is that they tend to be observed and evaluated far less frequently than their face-to-face course counterparts. This is party due to the fact that many of us administrators today never taught online courses ourselves when we were teaching. This article provides six "secrets" to performing meaningful observations and evaluations of online teaching, including how to use data analytics, avoid biases, and produce useful results even if observers have never taught online themselves.

The Use of Learning Contracts to Promote Student Success in Online Doctoral Programs

Melanie Shaw

Jama Bradley

by Melanie Shaw
Diane Blyler
Jama Bradley
Scott Burrus
Raymond Rodriguez

This quantitative study provides evidence of the benefits of learning contracts in online higher education. In this study, data were gathered from doctoral students who had completed all course work and comprehensive exams, but failed to make expected progress on dissertation. The students were given the opportunity to participate in a voluntary program requiring the execution of a learning contract. This program allowed students to work directly with a dissertation chair for four hours per week over the duration of a year. Students were expected to complete their dissertation within that year or risk dismissal. The purpose of this study was to evaluate rates of milestone completion, rates of student program completion, and student perceptions of the learning contract as a factor influencing their success. Results show on average, students completed the dissertation in 316 days and at the time of publication, 62% of participants had graduated from their doctoral program. Further, students believed learning contracts were helpful to their overall success in their doctoral program. These results are encouraging for institutions wishing to increase graduation rates, improve time to completion, and provide students with strategies for doctoral program success. Recommendations for further study include an exploration of learning contracts in traditional university settings to determine if findings are generalizable.

MOOCs: Branding, Enrollment, and Multiple Measures of Success

Elke M. Leeds

Jim Cope

by Elke M Leeds 
Jim Cope

KSU redefined the MOOC value proposition through collaboration of university leadership and faculty. The new proposition shifts measures of success beyond just course completion to include measures that benefit students, faculty, and the institution. Students benefitted through access to open educational resources, the acquisition of professional learning units at no cost, and the potential of college credit at a greatly reduced cost. Academic units benefited through a mechanism to attract students and future revenue while the university benefited through digital impressions, branding, institutionally leveraged scalable learning environments, streamlined credit evaluation processes and expanded digital education.

An Online Adult-Learner Focused Program: An Assessment of Effectiveness
Curtis L. Todd
Kokila Ravi
Harry Akoh
Vance Gray

by Curtis L. Todd
Kokila Ravi
Harry Akoh
Vance Gray

The landscape of higher education has significantly changed. Methods of instructional delivery, student profiles and degree offerings have transformed traditional brick and mortar institutions. Distance educational courses and programs, either fully online or hybrid, have been a major contributing factor in this shift. While a high percentage of students take classes online, adult learners particularly benefit from the flexibility and accessibility offered by online education. Yet, adult learners are more likely to be intimidated because of their lack of familiarity with this new learning paradigm. This article examines online and adult learners programming as well as strategies to address their needs, and presents the results of an evaluation that examined the effectiveness of an Online Adult Learner-Focused Program. The program was developed at a small public college in the southeast area of the United States and consisted of 97 respondents. The results of the study found various levels of student satisfaction with online adult learner-focused courses and as it relates to meeting the objectives of the program. Implications and recommendations for instructors, program coordinators and administrators are also discussed.

Readiness of Teachers and Pupils for Use of Mobile Devices as Support for Effective Pedagogy in Nigeria: Could Location be a Major Determinant?

Aminu Ladan Sharehu

Achor Edoja Emmanuel

by Aminu Ladan Sharehu
Achor Edoja Emmanuel

How prepared are teachers and pupils in  Basic 6 (that is, 6th grade) to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) such as mobile devices to aid teaching and learning in urban and rural schools at that level is a matter of concern and therefore formed the focus of this paper. The study is a survey of some urban and rural Primary schools in Benue State of Nigeria. A sample of 180 teachers (90 each for urban and rural schools) and 100 pupils (50 each for urban and rural schools) were purposively selected for the study. The instrument “State of the Art in Mobile Devices Use” (SAMDU) was used in data collection along with personal interaction (interview) on what they know, what they can do with their mobile devices (such as handsets, palmtops, iPads, tablets and smartphones) and practical demonstration of what was claimed. Analysis was done using descriptive statistics of percentages, means and bar graphs. The result shows that teachers and pupils in urban schools claimed and also demonstrated higher ability to use mobile devices to teach/learn compared with those in rural schools. However, there was a remarkable difference in what both urban and rural school teachers and pupils claimed they could do and what they actually demonstrated. Urban-rural dichotomy, low ICT literacy, poverty, electricity and prohibition by school authority were identified as major challenges to effective use of mobile devices for teaching. Implications of these findings were pointed out with regards to what is to be done and accuracy of past public statements of leaders on level of preparedness of the nation Nigeria as far as ICT is concerned. It was recommended among others that location should be considered in posting of ICT literate teachers, distribution of ICT related teaching aids and provision of ICT patrol van for mass education in schools. Provision of professional development opportunities for instructors who desire harnessing mobile devices as a teaching and learning tool should be made by schools and government.

Best Practices: Implementing an Online Course Development & Delivery Model

Veronica Outlaw

Margaret Rice

by Veronica Outlaw
Margaret Rice

The rise of online and hybrid courses at the higher education level increases the need for distance learning infrastructures to nourish online faculty preparedness and student online learning success. One part of the distance learning infrastructure is incorporating the use of educated and trained instructional designers to assist faculty in developing robust and quality online courses. Developing online courses with an instructional designer is a very laborious process, but the results can outweigh the struggles that faculty encounter when doing it on their own. The authors explain what is involved in an established six-step course development model for developing, reviewing, and delivering a quality online course.

From the Editor

Melanie ClayDear Friends and Readers,

In this issue, prolific distance learning writer Thomas Tobin shares some evaluation "secrets," and Melanie Shaw discusses learning contracts as a tool for student success. In this day of a clear urgency to explore and move into various forms of competency-based education, I find it most refreshing that the basic premise of our distance education tools remain somewhat constant.

Since joining this field nearly 20 years ago, I have found there have been components of our administrative toolbox that have proven consistently essential. While they evolve and generally improve, they are mostly geared to one of several DL admin functions: faculty training, assessment, staff development, student support, recruitment, marketing, and course development. I've spent more than a trivial amount of time refining and developing our administrative tools over the years, working closely with staff to either purchase or develop structured pathways that streamline our operations. The most common mistake we've made is not a failure to develop what we need, but rather to develop or purchase more than we need. In other words, when we fail to define exactly what is needed from our tools, we end up further complicating that which we are attemting to simplify. And we can also end up with a "tool of the day" mentality, whereby we react as though new is always better.

DL administration is really very much like instructional design, and perhaps a bit like living. Ideally, simple really is best.

Have a fabulous fall.


September 15, 2015


A special thanks to Atomic Learning for being the premiere sponsor of DLA2015!


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Last modified: September 15, 2015