Inside Higher ED: Exporting Online

Paul Fain has an interesting piece about California’s Coastline Community College and its new partnership with three non-California University’s to allow its students to pursue a low-cost, online bachelor’s degrees.  The three universities that are part of the new agreement are: the University of Massachusetts Online, Penn State University’s World Campus and the university of Illinois-Springfield.

A spokesperson for the California community college system’s Chancellor’s office said, “The California Community Colleges are working with colleges and other government agencies to develop a strategy to respond to current innovations in online course delivery  including MOOCs.”

The full piece is here.

My post on the League’s announcement.

My post on the Gates Foundation announcement.

More posts on MOOCs.

Carolyn Hart: Factors Associated With Student Persistence in an Online Program of Study: A Review of the Literature


This integrated literature review examined factors associated with the ability of students to
persist in an online course. Lack of persistence in online education and its’ consequence of attrition, is an identified problem within the United States and internationally. Terminology has wavered between persistence and success, where each has been interchangeably used to characterize a student that completes a course and continues to program completion. Separate searchers were conducted in Academic Search Premier, CINAHL Plus, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Education Full Text, Ovid, and the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT). Search terms included persistence, distance education, and online learning. Inclusion criteria included published after 1999, article from a peer-reviewed journal, and article addresses student factors leading to persistence. Exclusion criteria included article not related to factors of persistence, no original data, and article not written in English or not related to online courses. Factors associated with student persistence in an online program include satisfaction with online learning, a sense of belonging to the learning community, motivation, peer, and family support, time management skills, and increased communication with the instructor. Persistence carries the nuance of complexity beyond mere success. Factors unrelated to knowledge have the ability to provide support, thus allowing the student to overcome hardships in completing a course. If persistence factors are not present in sufficient quantity, the student may be at risk of withdrawing from an online course.


Hart finds that persistence is “a multi-faceted phenomenon that leads to completion of an on-line program of study. Although several studies have examined the relationship between persistence and on-campus student success, little consensus exists for which factors are significant and lead to persistence in the online student.”

Hart outlines factors that are either “facilitators of persistence” or are “barriers to persistence.”

Among the facilitators:

  • College status and graduating term (the close to graduation the higher the persistence rate)
  • Flexibility, asynchronous format, time management
  • Goal commitment
  • Grade Point Average

Among the barriers:

  • Auditory learning style
  • Basic Computer skills
  • College status and graduating term (further from graduation the lower the persistence rate)
  • Difficulty in accessing resources
  • Isolation and decreasing engagement
  • Lack of computer accessibility
  • Non-academic issues
  • Poor communication

There are also factors that can be positive or negative in their impact.  Among those are:

  • Quality of Interactions and Feedback
  • Satisfaction and Relevance
  • Self-Efficacy and Personal Growth
  • Social Connectedness or Presence
  • Emotional Support of Family and Friends
  • Technical Support

A PDF of the full article is available here.

Colorado Study finds “No Significant Difference” in Online Science Courses

Rhonda Epper, Assistant Provost at the Colorado Community College System and past chair of the WCET Executive Council, has a post on the WCET Learn blog about a September 2012 comparison study released by the Colorado Department of Higher  Education.  The study looked at 4,585 students who enrolled in first year Biology, Chemistry, and Physics classes for majors between 2007 and 2009.  Of those students 2,395 students took courses online and 2,190 took traditional science courses in the classroom.

Cumulative GPA, cumulative credit hours, and science-only GPA were examined for these students.  The study tracked the students within the community college system and tracked the  students who transferred to four different four-year institutions in the state (CU-Boulder, CU-Denver, CU-Colorado Springs, and Colorado State University-Fort Collins).

For CCCS, one of the key findings of this study was:

[S]tudy suggests that students who took online science courses at the community college level perform just as well in science classes at four-year institutions as students who took traditional on-campus science classe.

The full blog post has more about the study, the methodology used, and the findings.

Liu, et al., “Exploring Four Dimensions of Online Instructor Roles: A Program Level Case Study”

Liu, Xiaojing, Curt J. Bonk, Richard J. Magjukia, Seung-hee Lee, and Bude Su, “Exploring Four Dimensions of Online Instructor Roles: A Program Level Case Study.”  Online Learning Journal, vol. 9, no. 4 (December 2005), 29-48.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to understand the practice of online facilitation in a Midwestern university which has a highly successful traditional MBA program. This study explored the instructors’ perceptions regarding four dimensions of instructor roles using Berge’s [1] classifications: pedagogical, managerial, social, and technical. This study also examined the challenges and issues confronting online instructors when fulfilling these roles. The results suggest that instructors carried out several important roles to varying degrees. The findings reveal a stronger emphasis on the pedagogical roles (course designer, profession-inspirer, feedback-giver, and interaction-facilitator). Emphasizing those roles, the instructors promote three types of interactions: student-content, student-student, and student-teacher. A lesser emphasis on social roles represented mixed feelings regarding its importance to the instructors. While students rated the instructors very positively, the results also indicate that instructors still need to have their roles transformed pedagogically, socially, and technologically if they are to establish a more engaging and fruitful environment for online learning.

The article is available here:

Or, here: v9n4_liu_1

TED: What We’re Learning From Online Education

Daphne Koller is a professor at Stanford University.  She is co-founder, with Andrew Ng, of Coursera, which is one of the emerging leaders in massively open online courses (MOOCs).  Coursera currently offers classes from 16 top colleges. This video addresses what they are learning from this new online modality.  The implications on student learning clearly have applicability to traditional online and supplemental courses as well.

Among the topics she addresses are active learning, student engagement, Bloom’s Taxonomy, self and peer assessment, personalized feedback, life-long learning, and integration of multimedia.

The scholarship and references she cites include (in order of appearance):

Friedman, Thomas.  “Come the Revolution,” New York Times (May 15, 2012).  Available online here.

Karpicke, Jeffrey D., and Janell R. Blunt.  “Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping,” Science 2011.  Available online here.

Sadler, Phillip M., and Eddie Good, “The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning, Educational Assessment, 11, (1): 1-31.   More information here.

Bloom, B. S. (1984). The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring. Educational Researcher, 13, n. 6 (1984): 4-16.  Available online here.

Deslauriers, Louis,  Ellen Schelew, and Carl Wieman.  “Improved Learning In a Large-Enrollment Physics Class,” Science, Volume 332, no. 6031  (May 13, 2011): pp. 862-864.  Available online here.  Supplemental material available here.


iPad e-Learning Guide from Lectora

Lectoa iPad Guide Banner

Lectora has created a guide for those wanting to create e-Learning content for iPads.   The guide provides useful guidelines for content being developed especially for iPad.  You do not need to be using their development software or their learning management system (Course Mill) to find this guide useful. Continue reading

Mr. MOOC Comes to Washington

Paul Fain over at Inside Higher ED has a piece on Monday’s  U.S. Department of Education meeting focused on efficiency in granting college degrees and credentials.  Among the 150 A-listers from higher education were a number of members of the new disruptive force in higher education, the purveyors of massively open online courses (MOOCs).

According to Fain: “Urgency is building around productivity in higher education, however. And online learning is helping drive that urgency, several participants said, in part because many elite universities are now in the game with massive open online courses (MOOCs).”

Once again the discussion of MOOCs turns to competency-based education and prior learning assessment.  Along with providing credit for taking these courses through an accredited institution, these are the issues that have to be resolved before a sustainable model for MOOCs can be developed.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the DOE is open to competency-based programs, prior learning assessment and contributions from MOOCs.  However, he reminded everyone that credentials issued by non traditional (outside of the academy) remain “an unproven concept.”

The whole piece is here.