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Dissemination

University of Dayton

How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?

The redesign model that we used is highly transferable and scalable. Similar courses are already being constructed on campus using Lotus LearningSpace with Introductory Psychology Online as a model. Many faculty members have asked us how we supported collaborative learning in the online course and are now experimenting with the same approach. The Department of Communication is in the process of launching a redesigned, online Communication 101 course, the Department of English is contemplating developing an introductory composition course, and several Department of Math faculty members are working on calculus courses. Apart from offering specific methods and techniques, our course has demonstrated that it is possible to create an engaging, high-quality, and cost-effective online course that will be accepted by students and faculty.

December 2001 Update: Following the fall 2001 full implementation, we have been getting more questions from faculty about supporting collaborative writing activities online and the use of undergraduate mentors to facilitate the process. Faculty members from math and the physical sciences have been particularly interested in adopting a version of this model.

How are you disseminating the re-design among your colleagues?

Throughout the course pilot and on into the full implementation phase, we have been disseminating progress reports in a number of ways. First, we scheduled meetings with administrators, department chairs, and program directors to discuss the redesign. Second, we participated in the Faculty Exchange Series, a popular colloquium series on campus. Third, we created a demonstration version of the course and invited all faculty and staff to participate.

As is the case on all campuses, our colleagues are extremely busy people. We decided early on that it was not necessary, and may actually have been counterproductive, to bombard them with weekly reports on the project. Those who were interested in online learning or who had concerns about what we were doing contacted us directly or communicated their questions and concerns to their chairs. During our meetings with chairs and program directors, various concerns were raised. Of utmost concern was the amount of work required to prepare an online course. A close second was the concern over the role of distributed online learning in an institution that prides itself in small class sizes, high student-faculty contact, and a strong community orientation. On the positive side, virtually all faculty members who have seen the course have been impressed. They have been very excited by our use of collaboration technology to support online collaborative learning. They have also been extremely interested in the possibility of using online practice tests and quizzes to enhance their courses.

Many of the concerns of faculty, staff, students, and parents seem to be based on a biased and incomplete impression of “distance learning.” One of the best ways to overcome this bias is to allow individuals to view and participate in the course. Thus, the online sample course and supporting documentation has been invaluable. It is important to communicate that the online course is more than just a set of PowerPoint slides on the Web. We would argue that our online course is actually more interactive socially than the traditional course. When people get a chance to see all of the course features, their concerns are usually dispelled. For faculty, they are usually replaced by a new concern: how do I develop something like this for my course?

December 2001 Update: We are publishing and presenting the results of our project regionally and nationally. In October, we demonstrated the course and reviewed pilot results and lessons learned at EDUCAUSE. We also have a manuscript on the student procrastination issue in press at the Journal of Teaching Psychology.

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