Effectiveness Evaluation 2008-2009

I. DISTANCE AND DISTRIBUTED EDUCATION
ANNUAL REPORT 2008-2009

(FY 2009- July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009)

1. Mission

The Distance & Distributed Education Center is a university-wide function at UWG which serves to develop and enhance the university's ability to deliver education to students at remote locations, and to meet institutional distance learning goals. Through intercampus sharing of resources, the Distance and Distributed Education Center facilitates collaboration among university colleges and departments to deliver quality distance instruction, faculty and student services, and initiatives.

2. Goals

Goals and functions of this department mirror the institutional distance learning goals (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/):

  • Work with faculty to plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment
  • In collaboration with other campus and state departments, maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning.
  • Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners.
  • Conduct continuous evaluation of distance and distributed learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the University's mission and adherence to quality standards.
  • Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning.

In the past, these goals were reviewed annually by the VPAA's Distance and Distributed Education Steering Committee and revised as appropriate. Beginning in Fall 2008, the VPAA's DE Taskforce replaced the Distance and Distributed Education Steering Committee.

Statement of Outcomes, Processes to Assess These Outcomes, and Assessment Results Where Appropriate

Goal 1. Plan and create distance learning environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Student and faculty satisfaction with distance and distributed education courses is high.
    1. Summer 2008 evaluations showed that 86% of distance students agreed that their attitude toward online learning was positive at the beginning of the term (compared to 84% in Summer 2007). 86% agreed in Spring 2008. 84% in Fall 2008.
    2. Summer 2008 evaluations showed that 87% of distance students agreed that their attitude toward online learning was positive at the end of the term. 88% agreed in Spring 2008. 85% in Fall 2008.
    3. 74% of students (Summer 2008) said they'd like to take more courses in future mostly online (compared to 80% in Summer 2007). (Spring 2008 - 72%; Fall 2008- 71%).
    4. 63% (Summer 2008) of students said they'd like to take courses in the future completely online (compared to 66% a year earlier). (Spring 2008 - 59%; Fall 2008- 58%).
    5. 93% (Summer 2008) said that their instructor was positive about the online component of their course (compared to 95% in Summer 2007). (88% in Spring 2008; 87% in Fall 2008).
    6. Enrollment in distance courses (51-100% online) has grown dramatically over the years, with this year's total estimated at an all-time high of 14,836, up from 10,293 in FY08. Unique headcount in students taking distance courses also rose from an average of 2633 in FY08 to 4908 on FY09.
  • Student retention distance and distributed education courses is comparable to or higher than that of traditional courses.
    1. Summer 2008 retention for Distance students was 97% for distance students excluding eCore, compared to 90.5% for non-Distance students. Fall 2008 retention for Distance students was 92.7% for distance students excluding eCore, compared to 91.7% for non-Distance students.Spring 2009 retention for Distance students was 93.1% excluding eCore, compared to 91.3% for non-Distance students.
    2. Thanks to additional advisement and student mentoring resources, eCore (courses delivered through the statewide consortium and administered through the UWG DDEC beginning Feb 2009) retention improved at 85.2% for Summer '08 versus 82% for Summer '07; 76.3% for Spring '09 versus 73% for Spring '08; and 79% for Fall '08 versus 72.9% for Fall '07.
  • Students enrolled in distance courses have access to student services.
    1. The UWG Online Connection (http://www.westga.edu/~online/) provides easy web access for distance students to access student services.
  • Student learning outcomes are comparable to those in traditional courses. (ex. http://coe.westga.edu/mit/outcomes/index.html)
    1. These are generally the same as traditional and are evaluated on a departmental basis.
    2. For Spring 2009, students were asked to rank on a 1-5 scale whether or not they felt more comfortable participating in a class online than in a f2f meeting. Only 27% of students reported in their distance learning evaluations that they felt more comfortable participating in a face-to-face course than in an online course.
  • Interaction among student-faculty, and student-student are at least as high as in a traditional course.
    1. Faculty demonstrate competence in developing distance courses whose academic standards and student learning are the same as those for other courses delivered.
    2. All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.
    3. Academic standards and student learning are evaluated on a departmental basis. The DDEC reviews student surveys, class by class, to assure that overall student satisfaction with the faculty and the course are adequate. Since 1998, there have only been two cases in which the faculty competence seemed questionable based on student complaints. These were referred to the appropriate department head and dean. Both faculty members have since left the institution.
  • The number of courses developed and offered through distance media meets the demand of the region's students.
    1. A number of students mentioned in their open-ended responses on the written survey that they need more online courses and online degree programs.

Assessment methods:Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty. Student learning outcomes are assessed by academic units offering instruction.

Goal 2. Maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support and deliver distance and distributed learning. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty are trained and prepared to teach distance and distributed courses.
    1. All faculty MUST complete technical and pedagogical training prior to teaching a distance course.
  • Students and faculty are able to receive immediate technical assistance through telephone or email, as well as face-to-face assistance when possible.
    1. The DDEC staff provide immediate response to technical questions from students weekdays from 8 am until 6 pm weekdays. Students may contact a statewide support line after hours.
    2. Satisfaction surveys indicate that callers in July 2008 – June 2009 ranked the amount of time it took them to get help from our student-assistant staffed helpline an average of 9.89 on a scale of 1 to 10. They ranked "overall support" as 9.88.
    3. In Spring 2008, three new Graduate Assistants were hired and placed in an office located in the College of Education so that they would be in closer proximity to the faculty and students needing help with mostly online courses. In FY09, the GAs provided 2,420 hours of direct service to distance faculty and students.
  • Students and faculty are able to receive assistance through a central point-of-contact.
    1. The DDEC provides a central point of contact for support for all UWG distance courses.
  • A variety of delivery methods are available.
    1. In addition to the primary online mode of CourseDen (WebCT) Vista, distance courses may also utilize videoconferencing, and Wimba's Live Classroom and additional tools for synchronous or archived delivery of lectures featuring voice and visuals, Impatica for simple audio-visual online presentations, Camtasia for more advanced video, audio, and interactive productions.
    2. Technology resources were expanded to include an online course evaluation system known as CourseEval, a local audio/video streaming server system, as well as campus-wide license for Respondus (to make CourseDen (WebCT) Vista assessment development easier for faculty) and StudyMate (to make the devlopment of interactive Flash modules easier for faculty).
  • Distance courses are easily accessible to a growing number of students and potential students.
    1. The number of FY09 credit hours earned by students who took distance education courses accounted for an average of 16.8% of the UWG's total generated credit hours; that percentage is up from the average of 12.3% in FY08. In Summer 2008 alone, distance education credit hours accounted for 25.6% of all UWG credit hours.
    2. Enrollment in distance courses (51-100% online) jumped by 44%, from 10,293 in FY08 to 14,844 in FY09.Unique headcount in students taking distance courses rose from an average of 2633 per term in FY08 to 4908 in FY09.
    3. Enrollment in fully online courses courses continues to grow. Not counting eCore or WebMBA enrollments, fully online enrollment at UWG grew by 54% increase, from 3,407 in FY08 to 6,339 in FY09.
    4. The total number of distance courses (51-100% online) offered increased by 33% in FY09, with 642 course sections offered, compared with 485 courses offered in FY08 courses, compared to FY07's 422, FY06's 375, a FY05 total of 292, a FY04 total of 243, 132 in 2003, and 144 in 2002.
    5. The number of fully online UWG courses offered, not counting eCore or WebMBA, saw a 47% increase to 181 in FY09 (up from 123 in FY08). The number of partial distance courses (those offered 51-94% online) increased by nearly 10% to 215 (up from 197 in FY08 and 173 in FY07).
    6. Downtime for courses residing on UWG servers is non-existent or minimal, with backup plans in place and utilized as needed.
    7. Except for scheduled maintenance, the CourseDen (WebCT) Vista system has functioned without significant interruption since January 2002. Faculty use CourseDen (WebCT) Vista and Wimba Live Classroom as the primary delivery tools.
    8. All former WebCT 3.0 courses were migrated to CourseDen (WebCT) Vista 8 effective January 2009, which is housed on a centralized USG server, under the direction of the Board of Regent's GeorgiaVIEW Initiative.

Assessment methods:Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee (pre-Fall 2008) and the VPAA's DE Taskforce (as of Fall 2008) and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review.

Goal 3. Ensure that academic and student services are appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Each distance course or program provides students with clear, complete and timely information on the curriculum, course and degree requirements, nature of faculty/student interaction, prerequisite technology competencies, technical requirements, availability of academic support service, financial aid resources and costs and payment policies. See: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/distancestudents/
    1. Information available on web and syllabi for all distance courses and programs.
    2. Information also available in online student handbook, and other online points of access for students.
  • Students express satisfaction with the level of academic and student services received when taking distance and distributed courses.
    1. In FY 09 distance course evaluations, students expressed general satisfaction. The majority of complaints were course specific.
  • Students are aware of and utilize online resources available to them for academic and student support.
    1. According to a telephone survey conducted in April 2008, most students were satisfied with support services (advising, financial aid, career services, registration, and book purchase) or said "did not apply." Sixty-nine percent (up from 63% in 2007) of distance students surveyed in April 2008 reported that they used library services,and 83 % were satisfied or very satisfied with these services.
  • Enrolled students have reasonable and adequate access to the range of student services and resources appropriate to support their learning.
    1. Distance students have access to the range of student services and resources that traditional students do, and also special services such as support from the DDEC, and special services from the library. In FY09, the DDEC provided the Wimba Live Classroom tool for EXCEL and Computer Science virtual advisement, resulting in 2755.5 hours of virtual advisement. Information regarding services is available at http://www.westga.edu/~online

Assessment methods:Written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee (pre-Fall 2008) and the VPAA's DE Taskforce (as of Fall 2008) and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review.

Goal 4. Conduct continuous evaluation of distance learning and support services to ensure the advancement of the University's mission. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Faculty use results of evaluations to improve courses.
    1. All distance faculty must complete the Distance Evaluation Summary form, documenting what changes they will make in future distance courses based on their student surveys.
  • Distance learning staff uses results of evaluations to improve programs and services as a whole.
    1. The DDEC staff reviews evaluations and completes an annual effectiveness evaluation each June. A staff retreat is also held annually to assess staff quality standards, issues and plan for the next year.
  • The technologies selected are appropriate to meet course or program objectives.
    1. The DDEC selects technologies for campus use and support based on student need, recommendations from other institutions and faculty, as well as cost-benefit analysis.
    2. Individual departments and instructors select from combinations of the various institutional technologies (for example, CourseDen (WebCT) Vista, videoconferencing, Wimba Live Classroom) based on the program and course objectives.
  • Documentation of evaluations for each course and the overall distance program is available and accessible via the web.
  • Beginning Spring 2008, a new online course evaluation tool called Course Eval was rolled-out, allowing easier access to course-specific data and more granular comparative analysis.
    1. Overall evaluations for student written surveys, focus groups, phone surveys, retention and other data is available at the DDEC website
    2. Raw survey data is also maintained by the DDEC and each department offering distance courses.

Assessment methods:Faculty summary of evaluations each term, written student surveys at end of each term, annual focus group with distance students, informal discussions with Distance Learning Steering Committee and distance faculty, departmental annual self-review.

Goal 5. Support research, scholarship, and creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning. Accomplishing this goal will ensure that:

  • Our journal, conference, and certificate programs maintain excellent reputations among distance learning administrators in the United States and worldwide.
    1. The journal is required reading for many institutional programs, including University of Nebraska's doctoral program in Higher Education, and is referenced in many papers and books.
    2. The conference attracts a growing international audience of practitioners in the field.
  • Our Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration continues to increase in readership.
    1. The journal's average of hits per edition was 8,500.
    2. In its twelth year of production, the OJDLA had a significant increase in international readers, from a span of 49 countries in FY07, 71 countries in FY08, and 76 on July 1, 2009. As of July 1, 2009, the journal's home page has been accessed nearly 425,000 times.
    3. UWG faculty conduct research to enhance distance courses at UWG and to provide scholarly information to their field .
    4. UWG faculty and staff regularly present research at the DLA Conference and other conferences, including SITE, Educause, and other professional meetings. Many UWG faculty articles and books on distance learning are linked from the distance website.

Assessment methods: Certificate program and conference evaluations, readership data of journal, feedback from readers and participants.

3. Examples of Using of Assessment of Goals and Outcomes to Improve a Process

  1. Delivery methods: As a result of reviewing their course evaluations, faculty continuously indicate the need to more easily incorporate use of multimedia in their courses, including audio and video. The DDEC responded by upgrading its Wimba Live Classroom server, which allows for two-way video; and by upgrading the campus-wide license for Impatica, to allow for narrated presentations to be produced using Office 20007 and to be easily delivered mobile via capable phones, Ipods, and Blackberrys. In FY09, the Wimba Live Classroom server was used 4158 times within CourseDen, with 1476.5 hours of instruction taking place in the virtual classroom. In addition, we made available a new suite of products which integrates with CourseDen (WebCT) Vista, enabling audio voice boards, podcasting, and rapid creation of audio files. These enhancements, unlike some several years ago, are seamlessly integrated and have a very low learning curve for both faculty and students. We have also purchased a campus-wide license for a rapid elearning product called StudyMate to enable a content expert to more readily develop professional-looking, interactive content. Some instructors are also beginning to explore podcasting as a way to deliver course content to learners.
  2. Faculty training: As a result of formal and informal needs assessments, the DDEC offered "Dr. D housecalls" to faculty who need assistance with distance learning. Support staff were available to visit faculty in their offices, by appointment. Visits were mostly limited to 60-minutes, and support was limited to providing assistance with CourseDen (WebCT) Vista course tools, demos of technologies and software (such as Wimba Live Classroom, Impatica , etc.) and basic course evaluation and improvement. 261 houscalls, totalling more than 220 hours of assistance, were conducted in FY2009 (compared to 243 housecalls and 200 hours in FY08). Also, online resources for those instructors who are primarily self-directed are continually developed and updated, group workshops, and webinars offered. Graduate Assistants, funded through eTuition, provided 132 training housecall appointments totaling 86 service hours, as well as an additional 125 hours of just-in-time training and assistance.
  3. Facilitated Virtual Advisement and Tutoring: As a result of informal assessments regarding the need for virtual advisement and tutoring for online or partially online students, the DDEC provided the use of our Wimba Live Classroom server to the UWG Excel Center and Computer Science tutors. The DDEC helped set up the initial Live Classrooms, trained one administrative representative from each unit to further create additional rooms, provided training for the tutor presenters, and support for the student users. The result has been the offering of a student service that did not exist before FY09 at UWG - a virtual advisement service with integrated whiteboard, application sharing, text chat, full motion video, audio over IP, an available phone bridge for back-up audio, and archiving of sessions for later playback. In FY09, the system was used a total of 8721 times, with 3846 events accounting for advisement and virtual office hours. The total advisement hours via Wimba Live Classroom was 2755.5, with an average advisement session of 43 minutes.
  4. eCore retention: Resources are increasingly being directed towards meeting the unique advisement and support needs of those engaged in online learning through eCore. The first phase of a multi-pronged evaluation and improvement process was completed in Spring 2007. The first phase included a statistical analysis of eCore retention and grades, on a course-by-course basis (as compared to on-campus counterparts) and interviews with eCore students who had withdrawn from class. Based on this data, several suggestions were made to the system office, and the DDEC has implemented new processes and support mechanisms specifically for eCore students:
    1. In order to register for six "high-risk" courses, students who had not previously passed an eCore course with a grade of C or better were required to complete an online orientation (which addressed basic information which had proved to be problematic to surveyed students) followed by a quiz that covered all of the points raised. An amended version of our "What to Expect from an Online Course" orientation and quiz are now being used campus-wide by advisors, to help prepare students for non-eCore online courses at UWG.
    2. An eCore mentor (student assistant) was hired to assist UWG faculty teaching eCore courses in identifying students who were having problems, and assisting them.
    3. A Learning Community Leader (student assistant) was hired to set up a social network (utilizing FaceBook) for UWG eCore students. This forum provided reminders about deadlines, success tips, and enabled students to dialogue "off-the-record" about their course experiences and concerns.

Summer 2007 marked the first semester in which all UWG-based improvements included gated registration were made. During this semester, UWG broke the 80% retention mark for the first time. Because of these results, we expanded the required online orientation/quiz to include all eCore courses. Students who have successfully completed an eCore course with a C or better do not have to take the orientation test. FY '09 retention data shows that the improvements that UWG made seem to continue to result in higher retention rates for UWG eCore students:

Summer Semester 2008 improved from 82% Summer 2007 to 85.2% Summer 08.

Fall Semester 2008 retention improved from 72.9% in Fall 07 to 79% in Fall 08.

Spring Semester 2009 retention improved from 73% Spring 08 to 76.3% Spring 09.

Though existing UWG DDEC staff have been working on the eCore transition since February 2009, UWG will officially take over administration of the state-wide program, as of July 1, 2009. As a result, our gated-registration and other improved processes will be rolled out to all eCore affiliates within the USG.

4. Department Condition

Students:Student satisfaction with distance and distributed courses continues to be high.In Summer 2008, retention for distance courses exclusing eCore was 97 percent; and overall retention in distance courses (excluding eCore) was higher than for non-distance courses during every FY09 term. Eighty-five percent of students reported that they had a positive attitude about distance learning after taking a course in Fall 2008. Ninety-four percent reported that they found CourseDen (WebCT) Vista easy to use and understand. The number of FY09 credit hours earned by students who took distance education courses accounted for an average of 16.8% of the UWG's total generated credit hours; that percentage is up from the average of 12.3% in FY08.

Course Offerings: The total number of distance courses (51-100% online) offered increased by 33% in FY09, with 642 course sections offered, compared with 485 courses offered in FY08 courses, FY07's 422, FY06's 375, a FY05 total of 292, a FY04 total of 243, 132 in 2003, and 144 in 2002. The number of fully online UWG courses offered, not counting eCore or WebMBA, saw a 47% increase to 181 in FY09 (up from 123 in FY08). The number of partial distance courses (those offered 51-94% online) increased by nearly 10% to 215 (up from 197 in FY08 and 173 in FY07). The total number of course sections using any distance education technology rose by almost 10%, from 2228 in FY08 to 2424 in FY09. In Summer 2008 alone, distance education credit hours accounted for 25.6% of all UWG credit hours.

Resources: As the demand for distance learning courses and services has increased, so has the need for human resources. Student assistants, funded by eTuition and Student Technology Fees, have continued to be vital in providing first-level telephone support for distance students. Additionally, two eCore Student Assistants (an eCore Mentor and eCore Learning Community Leader) were instrumental in the success we've experienced in increasing eCore retention rates. In Spring 2008, three new Graduate Assistants were hired and placed in an office located in the College of Education os that they would be in closer proximity to the faculty and students needing help with mostly online courses. In FY09, the GAs provided 2,420 hours of direct service to distance faculty and students. The GAs provided faculty and student support and training, as well as exam proctoring, digital media production and assistance teaching a fully online Media and Instructional Technology course. As the number of distance course offerings and enrollment continues to climb, department has a highly critical need to add additional full-time support personnel to support existing distance learning courses and expand its programmatic offerings to meet the requirements of university system initiatives. In Summer 2008 alone, distance education credit hours accounted for 25.6% of all UWG credit hours.

5. Department Achievements, Awards, and Distinctions

  1. The University of West Georgia was awarded the eCore Administrative Services contract in February 2009, thanks in part to the DDEC team's past success in supporting eCore and our proposed changes for an improved administrative model. The transition from the University of Georgia's Georgia Center to UWG occurred over Spring 2009, with DDEC staff helping to lay the groundwork for the new eCore unit. UWG assumed full responsibility Summer Semester 2009. As a result, the move brought seven new jobs to the Carrollton area and will allow UWG to roll out improved administrative processes, student services, and retention to all USG eCore affiliates.
  2. We facilitated and supported the growth of credit hours offered via distance education, in line with the USG's and UWG's strategic goals, the number of FY09 credit hours earned by UWG students who took distance education courses accounted for an average of 16.8% of the UWG's total generated credit hours (up from the average of 12.3% in FY08).
  3. The DDEC continued to make multiple operational improvements, particularly in the area of evaluation and student services for UWG distance students. We conducted 31 student orientations in the classroom and one-on-one, in FY09. The student orientations averaged over 60 minutes per session. As a result, retention in UWG online courses remains comparable to on-campus counterparts; and eCore retention continues to rise. The DDEC faciliated the use of its Wimba Live Classroom tool, to deliver virtual advisement and tutoring services online.
  4. Beginning last Spring 2008, the BOR began preparing campus admin and support units for the migration of all USG schools from the older version of WebCT Vista 3 to the newer Blackboard Vista Enterprise System 8. UWG was among the first group to migrate, led by the DDEC and with oversight from a special Migration Steering Committee, with the new Vista 8 servers becoming available October 2008 for migration and going live January 2009. DDEC staff and student assistants migrated approximately 850 courses by manually rebuilding them for the instructors; and an additional 400 were migrated via the USG SMART tool. In support of the migration, instructor training, student orientations, and all documentation was updated to reflect the changes in the new course management system.
  5. The DDEC delivered a wide-variety and high number of training sessions, professional development opportunities, avenues for support, and scholarly research:
    • The DDEC conducted 25 in-house, one-on-one faculty and staff training sessions. The average training session lasted 1 hour and 9 minutes. This does not include the "Dr. D Housecalls" described below.
    • The DDEC offered "Dr. D Housecalls" to faculty who need assistance with distance learning. Support staff were available to visit faculty in their offices, by appointment. Visits were mostly limited to 60-minutes, and support was limited to providing assistance with CourseDen (WebCT) Vista course tools, demos of technologies and software (such as Wimba Live Classroom, Impatica , etc.) and basic course evaluation and improvement. 245 houscalls, totaling more than 220 hours of assistance, were conducted in FY2009 (compared to 243 housecalls and 200 hours in FY08). Graduate Assistants, funded through eTuition, provided 132 training housecall appointments totaling 86 service hours, as well as an additional 125 hours of just-in-time training and assistance.
    • The DDEC responded to approximately 4221 helpcalls, which is an 80% increase from FY08 and constitutes approximately one-third of all helpcalls logged on campus.
    • Published four quarterly editions of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Average number of visits to the site each month is 4924.
    • With 447 UWG faculty and staff in attendance (up from 367 in FY08), the DDEC delivered 36 workshops to UWG faculty and staff in FY09. The average workshop length was typically over one and a half hours. Through the DDEC workshops, 239 different faculty and staff were served in FY09 (up from 199 in FY08).
    • Delivered two sections of the Distance Learning Certificate Program to 25 participants from 15 states and 2 countries.
    • Delivered two sections of the Distance Education Certified Trainer Program to countries.
    • Delivered three sections of the Advanced Technologies in Distance Education Program to 10 participants from 8 states and 2 countries.
  6. During FY '08, UWG continued to be number one among the eCore host institutions, in eCore enrollment. The University of West Georgia accounted for an average of 50% of all students in eCore, for each term this year (compared to 43% of all students in last year in FY '08). UWG eCore enrollment averaged 1184 per term, compared to a 641 student average per term for last year. Resources are increasingly being directed towards meeting the unique advisement and support needs of those engaged in online learning through eCore. A multi-phase evaluation and improvement process was implemented and was successful in improving retention. We are continuing to make improvements as we strive to increase retention even further for the Fiscal year 2010 and roll-out our improved processes to all UWG eCore affiliates.
  7. An amended version of our "What to Expect from an Online Course" orientation and quiz, originally developed to help raise eCore retention, are now being used campus-wide by advisors, to help prepare students for non-eCore online courses at UWG. Customized versions are now being adopted at other USG eCore affiliate schools.
  8. Selected for a national program sponsored by MERLOT (http://taste.merlot.org/ ) and in collaboration with UWG faculty Jeff Rooks, the USG Board of Regents and Georgia Public Broadcasting; the ELIXR project recognizes, records, and shares online multi-media presentations on best practices in instructional technology.

Staff Productivity

DDEC staff members sponsored the tenth-annual Distance Learning Administration Conference at St. Simons Island in June 2009. The conference was attended by more than 147 distance learning professionals representing more 30 states, and 4 countries. Melanie Clay served as conference director, Alicia Williams as conference manager, Stacey Rowland as event manager, and Christy Talley as technology coordinator.

Competing with other institutions, the DDEC staff helped prepare UWG's response to a USG Board of Regents' RFP calling for the state's collaborative online eCore program to be moved from it's original administrative home at the UGA Georgia Center. Based on the merits of the proposal and our previous record of success within the program, UWG was selected as the school now in charge of eCore Administrative Services. Beginning in February 2009, existing DDEC staff took on the additional eCore workload and grew student and faculty services, until new staff could be hired to fill the new positions within the eCore unit. Together with the BOR, the DDEC staff, ITS, and the Registrars office, worked to transition eCore to UWG, capitalizing on using the BOR's new GeorgiaOnMyLine (GOML) registration system to make registration and student information processing more scalable. Early spring eCore registration numbers for Fall 2009, show that UWG has succeeded in increasing eCore enrollments, as a result.

Dr. Melanie N. Clay, associate dean of eCore and Extended Degree Programs, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, DLA2009 Conference Director, and as UWG's representative on the Regent's Advisory Committee on Distance Education. She also served on the UWG Enrollment Management Committee, the UWG Web Redesign Task Force, the UWG Center for Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee, and on the Technology Coordinating Council. She was the primary author of the winning eCore proposal submitted to the BOR and led the transition team. She also taught a hybrid Political Science 1101 course on the Newnan campus fall semester 2008.

Janet Gubbins, Assistant Director, continued to serve as the primary administrator for CourseDen (WebCT) Vista and oversaw the migration of campus courses and instructors from the old version three to the new version eight; in many cases, rebuilding courses manually and retraining instructors. Janet assisted with the eCore proposal and transition, served as the primary GeorgiaOnMyLine/eCore GeorgiaVIEW administrator, managed UWG's site on the USG Podcasting Server and UWG's Georgia Public Broadcasting's United Streaming Service. She contributed as an alternate on the UWG Tech Fee Committee, the Technology Coordination Council, and the Regent's Advisory Committee on Distance Education. She participated on the UWG Strategic Enrollment Committee and the UWG Office '07 Implementation Committee. Janet assisted with the DLA2009 conference, where she delivered and co-authored a presentation, Ensuring Access to Library Resources for Distance Learners, and facilitated a virtual presentation via Skype, A Mission-Driven Approach to Distance Learning Leadership. Janet attended the BOR's Rock Eagle Annual Computing Conference and Digital Innovation Group Summit in Macon. She also presented the poster session, Going Mobile, Streaming and Beyond: A Comparative Analysis (with Stacey Rowland), delivered at WebCT/ Blackboard World User Conference 2008. As of July 1, 2009, Janet will serve as the Director of the DDEC.

During 2008-2009, Christy Talley Smith continued to serve as the Wimba and CoursEval Administrator. She also continued to act as UWG's Secondary GeorgiaView Vista Administrator. Christy was responsible for coordinating faculty support and training events such as the monthly Apollo Cafe. Christy attended Wimba Connect 2009 and presented "Wimba + West Georgia = Academic Excellence in a Personal Environment". Christy lead the conference technology support team at the DDEC's annual Distance Learning Adminsitration conference at DLA2009. Christy continued to serve on the Distance Learning Steering Committee and also worked on the SEI Revision sub-committee. Christy contributed to the eCore proposal and transition; she also served as the secondary GeorgiaOnMyLine/eCore GeorgiaVIEW administrator and primary eCore faculty liason. In April of 2009, Christy became the Assistant Director of eCore, Curriculum & Instruction.

Stacey Rowland continued to serve as eCore Coordinator for University of West Georgia. Stacey assisted with the eCore proposal and was the lead contact with eCore affiliate schools, during eCore's transition to UWG. She was appointed as the eCore Student Success Manager for eCore Administrative Services, April 1, 2009. She continued to serve as the Production Editor of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. She also served as the Conference Event Manager for our annual conference on Distance Learning Administration. Stacey presented at the annual Blackboard World (BbWorld) Conference in Las Vegas, NV, July 15-17, 2008, along with Janet P. Gubbins, on Going Mobile, Streaming and Beyond: A Comparative Analysis. Stacey also attended the Rock Eagle Annual Computing Conference in Eatonton, Georgia, October 22 - October 24, 2008. Stacey will graduate from the University of West Georgia with her BBA in Technology in August 2009.


II. USG ECORE ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
ANNUAL REPORT 2008-2009

(FY 2009- July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009)

  1. Departmental Mission/Vision Statement (from http://ecore.usg.edu/): eCore allows University System of Georgia students the opportunity to complete their first two years of their collegiate careers in an online environment. eCore Administrative Services provides effective and efficient overall program management, including student support; faculty recruitment, support and training; course development; evaluation, and marketing.
  2. Departmental Statement of Goals, Processes and Assessment Results:
    1. eCore instructors will understand and adhere to high standards of excellence in online teaching, maintaining a visible interactive teaching presence in their assigned course.
      1. All 55 eCore instructors, including those who have several years of eCore teaching experience, took a 2-week online course in May 2009, followed by a one-day face-to-face meeting or extended webinar.
      2. Student course evaluations will indicate the level of satisfaction and perception with instruction. UWG did not assume responsibility for eCore Administrative Services until June 1, 2009. Results will be available for FY2010.
      3. Data will be collected recording the number of postings per week by each instructor, and will be available for FY2010. Each instructor is required to login to their courses a minimum of 5 days per week.
      4. Data will be collected regarding the timely posting and recording of grades and will be available for FY2010.
      5. eCore instructors are employed at University System of Georgia institutions. Of the 35 who taught Summer term, 23 held terminal degrees.
      6. Faculty will be surveyed at the end of each term to assess their satisfaction with support and training. Results will be available for FY2010.
    2. All eCore courses will result in appropriate learning, integrity and rigor, and provide opportunities for instructor-student; student-student; and student-content interaction.
      1. All eCore courses were developed by a team of USG faculty. A Quality Team consisting of a content expert (faculty), editor and instructional designer will review and update each course at least once every three years. At the end of FY2010, Philosophy, Psychology, World History, and Political Science will have been updated.
      2. All new and reviewed courses will be measured according to the Five-Star Course Rubric (www.westga.edu/~distance/distancefaculty/coursereviewform.pdf).
      3. All eCore courses currently have at least one proctored experience. Beginning in Summer 2009, all proctored tests were delivered online, resulting in a streamlined, more efficient process. 658 eCore tests were proctored at more than 32 testing sites for the Summer 2009 midterm.
    3. Support systems will be in place that provide for processes to promote student retention and success and enable students to receive immediate assistance.
      1. Retention in eCore courses was 85 percent among all affiliates in Summer 2009, compared to 78 percent in Summer 2008 and in 76 percent in Summer 2007 and 76 percent in Summer 2006. This was higher than it has ever been in the history of eCore. Retention of UWG students in eCore courses was 87 percent as compared to 84 percent in Summer 2008 (also a new high), 82 percent in Summer 2007, and 76 percent in Summer 2006.
      2. Withdrawal surveys administered when to Summer 2009 students who withdrew from eCore courses indicate that 60 percent withdrew because of issues unrelated to instruction or the course itself (personal, illness, financial). Only 2 percent of those who withdrew indicated that they were dissatisfied with eCore advisement.
      3. Student course surveys will provide data indicating the satisfaction of students with support services. This data will be available in the FY2010 report.
      4. In January 2010, the eCore Student Support Coordinator (new position) will conduct a telephon phone survey of a sampling of eCore students to measure satisfaction, services, and success factors. This data will be available in the FY2010 report.
      5. eCore advisors provided telephone and email assistance to more than 1500 UWG and affiliate-institution eCore students. Remedy evaluations indicated a satisfaction score of more than 9.4 on a 1-10 scale with these services, and more than 9.2 on a timeliness of response scale.
      6. During the next year, the new eCore Administrative Services will collect data regarding grades for all affiliates. In comparing the performance of UWG students who took eCore courses in Summer 2008 to those who took traditional courses, students performed as well or better in eCore courses in 8 of the 16 subjects offered in the summer semester.
      7. More than 171 eCore students utilized SmartThinking tutoring services from November 2008 through June 2009. Complete data will be available for FY2010.
      8. Our new eCore Administrative Services is currently streamlining processes for Academic Governance, including grade appeals and cheating. Data will be available in FY2010.
    4. eCore Administrative Services will implement recruitment and marketing strategies and maintain fiscal procedures that enable the program to be self-supporting.
      1. Enrollment for Summer 2009, our first semester, was 1133 exceeding Summer 2008 1062, as well as our own projections 875, creating an initial surplus early in the program.
      2. An eCore Enrollment Coordinator was hired in Spring 2009, and several newspaper ads were placed in the student papers of USG institutions. Web 2.0 features are also in development for the enhanced publicity of eCore courses. The Enrollment Coordinator also attended three fairs and related recruitment events in April-July 2009.
      3. Migration to the CampusVUE registration system began for Fall 2009 eCore registration. Student and affiliate eCore advisor surveys will indicate the initial success of this system in decreasing error and providing a scalable, user-friendly solution for increased enrollments.
  3. Example of how eCore Administrative Services Uses Assessment of Goals and Outcomes to Change/Improve a Process: Evaluation of student retention as compared to traditional courses led to changes in the advisement and registration process, whereby new eCore students must take an online course prior to registering.
  4. The University of West Georgia was awarded the eCore Administrative Services contract in February 2009. The transition from the University of Georgia occurred in Spring 2009 with UWG assuming full responsibility Summer Semester 2009. The department hired seven new employees in Spring and Summer 2009, including the eCore Student Success Coordinator, an Assistant Director for Curriculum and Instruction, a Testing Coordinator, an Enrollment Manager, a Registration Assistant, a Business Manager, and an Instructional Designer. In its early months, the new arrangement has been successful in terms of better-than-expected enrollment, fiscal sustainability, and instructional and program quality. Primary challenges facing the new department are physical space limitations (office) and transition to the GOML registration system.
    1. Successful transitioned delivery of eCore administrative services from UGA to UWG.
    2. Changed delivery of eCore proctored tests from paper delivery to online delivery.
    3. Met and exceeded early enrollment and fiscal projections.
    4. Developed and implemented new and comprehensive training program for eCore faculty.
    5. Revised Memorandum of Understanding to reflect highest principles of instruction and accountability for eCore faculty.
    6. Implemented early phases of eCore marketing program, including website updates, Web 2.0, newspaper advertisements, and recruitment fairs.
    7. Began pilot phase of GOML registration process.
  5. Staff Productivity:

Dr. Melanie N. Clay, associate dean of eCore and Extended Degree Programs, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, DLA2009 Conference Director, and as UWG's representative on the Regent's Advisory Committee on Distance Education. She also served on the UWG Enrollment Management Committee, the UWG Web Redesign Task Force, the UWG Center for Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee, and on the Technology Coordinating Council. She was the primary author of the winning eCore proposal submitted to the BOR. She also taught a hybrid Political Science 1101 course on the Newnan campus Spring semester.

Christy Talley Smith continued to serve as the Wimba and CoursEval Administrator. She also continued to act as UWG's Secondary GeorgiaView Vista Administrator. Christy was responsible for coordinating faculty support and training events such as the monthly Apollo Cafe. Christy attended Wimba Connect 2009 and presented "Wimba + West Georgia = Academic Excellence in a Personal Environment". Christy led the conference technology support team at the DDEC's annual Distance Learning Administration conference at DLA2009. Christy continued to serve on the Distance Learning Steering Committee and also worked on the SEI Revision sub-committee. Additionally, Christy is the Coordinator of Off Campus Programs & Evening Weekend University. In April of 2009, Christy became the Assistant Director of eCore, Curriculum & Instruction.

Stacey Rowland continued to serve as eCore Coordinator for University of West Georgia until she was appointed as the eCore Student Success Manager for eCore Administrative Services, April 1, 2009. She continued to serve as the Production Editor of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. She also served as the Conference Event Manager for our annual conference on Distance Learning Administration. Stacey presented at the annual Blackboard World (BbWorld) Conference in Las Vegas, NV, July 15-17, 2008, along with Janet P. Gubbins, on Going Mobile, Streaming and Beyond: A Comparative Analysis. Stacey also attended the Rock Eagle Annual Computing Conference in Eatonton, Georgia, October 22 - October 24, 2008. Stacey will graduate from the University of West Georgia with her BBA in Technology in August 2009.