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Implementation Issues

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona)

Looking back on the course pilot itself, what worked best?

The strategies that worked best were the proactive versus reactive approach to the energy crisis, thereby ensuring that students would suffer almost no interruption in service while in the course. Basing the course primarily within WebCT allowed us to create a successful random test generator. It also allowed us to utilize some of the more powerful components of the program. Although using WebCT brought about positive outcomes, it was more than we had planned for and it put enormous pressure on faculty. Lastly, 5-6 days per week coverage for responding to students and monitoring them via interactive email resulted in lower drop/fail rates.

What are the biggest challenges you face in moving from the course pilot to the project's next phase?

Due to the great number of changes and interventions during the pilot period, we plan to reduce the fall implementation class size. We accomplished more than anticipated, but our College Dean felt the need for a period where all our tools and assessments were in place before increasing to our planned class size. The doubling of the class size will take place during the winter of 2002.

Other challenges include:

  • Trouble-shooting our Learning CD so that it works on the widest range of computers, conforms to design plans and supplies us with the data that we need to assess its effectiveness;
  • Scheduling our testing in computer lab spaces in competition with other departments and majors with technology-enhanced and based courses as the course grows;
  • Addressing the updating of video-streamed materials using less costly means while retaining the excitement of the visual medium;
  • Providing help for faculty while they are learning to use WebCT (we have started a campus-wide WebCT faculty support/mentoring group to address this challenge);
  • Dealing with scheduling problems (we proposed that faculty teaching the course would only teach this one course for the quarter, since they will be teaching the equivalent of 4-5 classes);
  • Dealing with freshmen, many of whom still utilize high school level academic practices, which may make it difficult for them to succeed at first in this redesigned course; and,
  • Moving faculty from their usual stance of “I won’t stand in your way” to “How can I do the course next?”

December 31, 2001 Update: We had hoped to have a full implementation of the redesigned course during the fall 2001 quarter. Three days into the quarter, the project leader became so ill that she was forced to retire immediately. The faculty member who substituted for her in the course was not as familiar with the delivery mechanisms, and our overall implementation was put on hold. We used the time to have improvements made to the learning CD, and we were able to continue the use of WebCT materials, but not the test generator. Tests were given in the traditional manner. By January 2002, we had replaced the project leaders with another faculty member in the department, who used the winter quarter to learn how to manage the course using all the previously used materials.

We will have an implementation class of at least 300 students in spring 2002quarter with full implementation (all students in the introductory course will enroll in the redesigned course) in the fall 2002 quarter.

The Vice President for Instructional Technology is assigning a team of technical staff to assist the faculty member during the rest of the implementation phase. This should lessen some faculty members’ reluctance to work in this mediated environment. By the time full implementation occurs in the fall 2002 quarter, four or five faculty will be able to teach this course in the redesigned form.

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