Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MnOnline Summer Conference

About 100 people from across MnSCU gathered today at Bemidji State University for the third annual summer conference of Minnesota Online. The first session I attended was a roundtable discussion about assessment of student learning outcomes in online courses and programs. This is an outgrowth from the Academic Services Workgroup of the MnOnline Council and is just a starting point for gathering information about the assessment projects that are happening in the system. For the most part there haven’t been very many assessment projects completed that specifically collect information about online student achievement of learning outcomes or college-wide outcomes, although LSC has completed three such college-wide projects.

The second session that I attended was about the regional consortium in northwest Minnesota comprised of Alexandria Technical College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Northland Community and Technical College, and Northwest Technical College-Bemidji. They are a few years down the road already with sharing seats and faculty for their online courses. This gives them some flexibility in being able to offer more courses to their students but not needing to fill all the seats in a course by themselves. This is exactly the model that I have been trying to implement for the past two years with other schools in Minnesota Online. I constantly get frustrated with the lack of willingness of other schools to try something new, and the lack of willingness to share with other schools within the same system. We specifically have tried to partner in courses that have a smaller audience and would be in danger of being canceled due to low enrollment unless we can draw students from several colleges and share the delivery costs accordingly. One of my biggest frustrations with Minnesota Online in general is that it appears to be a “consortium” of cooperating colleges, but it in reality it seems to be a bunch of independent institutions who want to do their own thing. The rest of the system can learn a lot from the cooperation shown by these colleges in the northwest.


Teresa Theisen said...

Hi Barry, Thanks for your interest in and kind comments about our presentation. I think you are in a great position to carry forward your ideas about Minnesota Online with the Council and Gary and his team. It would be great to have all institutions who want to "go to the next level" involved in making your Minnesota vision come true. Count on me being an enthusiastic and active supporter. Students are counting on all of us working together seamlessly!

Barry Dahl said...

Hi Theresa,
In the opening remarks Tuesday I mentioned my interest in holding open forums about MnOnline throughout the state during the next year. Maybe a visit to one (or more) of your consortium campuses would be a good place to start. Let me know if your group is interested. BD