Recently, at a conference, I inadvertently said something like, “We’re still learning about online learning.” It was unplanned but completely accurate. At LaGrange College, we’ve learned so much but are still learning. I’d like to share some of how far we’ve come.
Still Learning About Online Learning
Several years ago, Dr. David Garrison discovered a business partner that would help LaGrange College begin its walk toward and into online learning. Through cautious investigation, LaGrange College partnered with Learning House, a Louisville, KY-based company that specializes in helping institutions of higher education offer online courses and programs. They delve into matters of marketing, enrollment and retention, pedagogy, and course design.
In June of 2012, I was given the opportunity to be the liaison between Learning House and LaGrange College. A faculty member (someone who at least minimally understood pedagogy) and someone who had expressed interest in online learning in the past would be a good choice. I was granted the title “Program Coordinator” and I was completely scared because I had no idea of what I was doing for online learning or serving administratively. Would I do my job well? I hoped so.
In February 2014, I was retitled as “Director of Online Instruction”. The number of online courses and students was increasing and my excitement was building. Slowly, people were losing fear over teaching online and starting to view doing so just as another way to teach. Beyond online learning, people were attempting “flipped” and hybrid (or “mixed mode”) courses.
What started to become clear was the need to improve our offered education and our offerings. We started increasing development opportunities (The Brown Bag Lunches, Teaching and Learning Conferences, etc.) to help expose our faculty to more and more teaching tactics. We started working to ensure that new online programs were authorized by correct accrediting bodies and targeted the needs of our varying student bodies.
Another piece that became clear was the need of data monitoring. How were/are our teachers doing? How was the institution faring in regards to best practices? We’re still working on these pieces.
We’re still learning about online learning but we’re learning more quickly.
What’s next/foremost on the agenda? Training. We’re making a learning management system change and that has taken up most of our last training periods. In the future, we’ll be working on how we word assessments and how to use varying types of assessments to achieve a variety of responses.
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