Dr. Susan Haugen, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, email@example.com
Dr. James LaBarre, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. John Melrose, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, email@example.com
There are many issues and challenges associated with delivering a course online via the
Internet. These include development and revision of the course prior to being online, teaching the course once it goes “live”, quality control of online vs. on-campus courses, efficient time utilization by faculty and students when online, encouraging interaction among students and faculty online, and methods and procedures for teaching an online course.
Keywords: online courses, e-learning, course delivery, teaching methods
Many universities are seeking to provide students, particularly graduate students and adult undergraduate students, with access to quality educational opportunities through the use of both synchronous and asynchronous delivery technologies. With a foundation in educational television that began in the 1950’s, universities have created networks to reach both on-campus and off-campus populations. The rapid development of computers and telecommunications technologies, along with the introduction of the Internet, provided the tools to expand and enhance distance education and forever transform the university educational delivery system.
Hanna (2) states that Internet-supported distance education courses form a critical pressure point for challenging the dominant assumptions and characteristics of existing traditionally organized universities in the 21st century.
Working adults comprise a large portion of our college population, and are a primary target for an e-learning market that is predicted to reach $15 billion by 2002 (1). Online courses meet the needs of individuals who want to earn college credits and/or a degree while maintaining a fulltime job. Universities have seen online course delivery as a way to reach beyond geographic and time constraints normally associated with traditional programs, and to target non-traditional student populations and establish new revenue sources. Thanks to the Internet and interactive multimedia, the delivery of education is being revolutionized (4).
However, it is important to understand that online education is not without pitfalls. The expectations for technology to transform higher education may be disproportionately high (3).
Behind efforts promoting the use of technology in education are often found techno-zealots, who view computers as the panacea for everything because they like to play with them. Learning and teaching online is much different than a traditional classroom experience. Since most communications take place via written messages, writing skills and the ability to put thoughts into words are paramount. It is important for the instructor to function as a facilitator, which turns out to be much more difficult then delivering a lecture. The single most important element of successful online education is interaction among participants (5).
ONLINE COURSE DELIVERY: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES
At a time when universities are competing for quality students, enhanced delivery systems are a means to help individuals better meet their work and family schedules, interests, and other needs.
We will discuss four major areas that relate to online course delivery: (1) advantages and disadvantages of online delivery; (2) utilizing faculty time effectively; (3) quality control in the online environment; (4) building discussions into the course.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF ONLINE DELIVERY
For the student, there is a price for participation in online learning. There is a fundamental need for minimum technology access – either personal or at a specific learning site. To utilize the equipment there is a need for skills to interact with the instructor and other students. We believe this goes