Friday, February 12, 2010

Learning Technology - Feb 10 discussion group summary

Pam Bischoff facilitated our second discussion group on the strategic theme of Learning Technology this past Wednesday at David Lam and shares this summary. Please feel free to comment on what you read here. (The summary of the first Learning Technology discussion event is here.) --Scott

Learning Technology discussion group summary - from Pam Bischoff, Manager of Institutional Research

A nice sized group of ten employees participated in this discussion topic.

Key Considerations:
Not everything needs to be a hybrid. It may make sense to offer online or hybrid versions of some courses/programs but not everything will be suitable for these delivery methods. Further, we need to recognize that there is a continuum upon which courses/programs can be offered, i.e., with varying amounts of online content.

If we make a commitment to deliver a program online, we should ensure that all courses will be available for a student to complete, regardless of whether we develop and deliver all the courses or partner with another institution to deliver some courses of the program.

There is lots of opportunity for Douglas to grow in the area of online course/program delivery. Given the projected decline in high school graduates over the coming years, we will need to expand into new learner markets which will expect (even demand) a good breath of online offerings. Other institutions are aware of the trends and may already be moving to bolster their online profile to capture those learner markets. Because of this, there needs to be some sense of urgency to position the College to attract these new learner markets before the competition does. We should avoid replicating offerings of other institutions.

Douglas’ Learning Technology strategy can also help with retention efforts – to help retain the students we already have.

Learning technologies help remove barriers of time and place, thus allowing the College to attract and recruit learners beyond our typical catchment.

It’s important to recognize that technology unto itself is not the answer – it must be a companion component with other College initiatives (e.g., the Learner Pathway strategy)

Some of the challenges with moving forward are:

• Defining appropriate class sizes for online/hybrid offerings (need to consult the literature)

• Defining the number of hours for hybrid offerings (e.g., face-to-face, online)

• Requires a specialized skill set to instruct in an online environment

Concerns that we market what we don’t support – demand is not an issue with present online offerings but, for a variety of reasons, these courses don’t get all the support they need.

College needs to keep up with technology already being used in high schools.

Strategic actions:

1) Develop an inclusive (cross-functional) planning process so resources can be managed more effectively

2) Establish a cross-functional steering committee that will be the central coordinating body for communication and consultation

3) Develop a system to assess which courses/programs are good candidates for online migration. Also what new courses and programs should be developed for online and hybrid offerings.

4) Resource shifting may be needed to enable development and growth of online and hybrid offerings

5) Develop process to build online instructional skills sets in faculty

6) Build development teams consisting of subject matter experts (SMEs), course designers, and online instructors

7) Design a template with a consistent look and feel for all online Douglas offerings – necessary to promote economies of scale and facilitate growth


What do you think? We welcome your comments on this discussion.


  1. Just getting back to the discussion. I was reading this article:

    A comment from this article from a reader in Turkey says that online learning needs to have very large class sizes(1-4000student) to be cost effective ( cost course development$500,000).

  2. As my comment involves technology I'm putting it here. I've just read the student survey feedback as part of our overall strategic plan and am concerned about a few of the comments.

    A) Some students expect to get their grades constantly updated on WebCT or MyDouglas as well as a host of other things including all readings, all assignments, and all lecture notes (I provide the first two and consider myself web savvy enough to post announcements, weblinks, and online quizzes).
    2) Some students expect to do all their communicating online via email with me and can't understand that it may take me a day or two to respond (I have a lot of email).

    My concern is the added work expected to meet these demands. Unless I have additional support I can't always be uploading student grades and responding to every single email. I'm also wary of all the students who email me but never come to my office hours!