Thursday, July 06, 2006

Agenda Item #2

This item is related to, but not exactly the same as item #1 (see post below). The Minnesota Online website pulls all courses from the record system and calls them online courses if they are coded as such (media code 03 in ISRS) by the host campus.

The problem comes in the fact that a single course code does not cover all the possible variations on the theme of an online course. Most troubling to me is the difference bewteen (A) an engaging course with a great deal of interaction among students and between student and instructor, and (B) an EIS/ECC (either electronic independent study or electronic correspondence course, take your pick of the terminology).

I have no doubt that it makes a difference to the student which type of course they are enrolling in. Part of this is related to the students' needs for full disclosure about what to expect in an online course. However, I didn't want to lump it in with agenda item #1 since this one needs to be dealt with regardless of whether the first one is.

Another distinction that should be important to students is whether the class is actually taught by faculty members of the institution or system. I'm not sure if this is still going on, but a couple of years ago some schools were listing courses as media code 03 that were offered by Ed-2-Go. These are canned courses that are not actually taught by the faculty members. They probably also fall into the first concern of being EIS/ECC, but I'm separating it just in case there is something else going on here that I am not aware of.

Let me make one thing clear. I think there is a market demand for the EIS/ECC types of courses. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any, but I think they need to be coded differently and the information about them needs to be clearly explained to potential students so that they will know what they are getting into. Students complain loudly (and legitimately) when they take a class and don't hear from the instructor more than once or twice. Could be that the instructor considered the class to be  of the correspondence variety, but the student had different expectations.

One size does not fit all.

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