Countdown: 25 days to HLC visit: Online Education
Editor's note:Ranger Today continues a series of articles on the future directions contained within the university's self-study.
Future Direction: Implementation of Online Courses and Program Policies
By Kim Kelley, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Institutional Effectiveness
UW-Parkside has developed a significant online instructional presence. This is true for several reasons:
- Its collaborative relationships with other UW System campuses to deliver online programs
- Its development of a Summer Online Faculty Institute, led by Associate Provost Dennis Rome, to improve the faculty's knowledge and capacity to offer online courses, and
- Its Center for Community Partnerships' non-credit, online programs.
Through the analysis of UW-Parkside's current online delivery of courses and programs during the self-study process, it rapidly became apparent the university should investigate offering select online programs independently of its collaborative relationships because some programs are likely to have sufficient courses to offer degree-completion programs in the next few years.
The diversity and success of the current collaborative programs offered also suggests the campus is ready to consider the next phase of online delivery: delivering online programs currently offered face-to-face, in a fully online degree delivery format.
Establishing the infrastructure to offer an online degree program is underway, but before an online program is possible, the infrastructure will need additional attention and development. The university has been successful in offering online courses, and through this process has developed expertise and services to support its online students.
At the same time, there is a need to ensure that the availability of the online services and support infrastructure is affirmed, and any gaps addressed. The university must also evaluate its policies to ensure they include online students, and establish standards that ensure the quality of the education a student receives online will be equivalent to the education he or she receives in a face-to-face, in-classroom format.
Establishing the infrastructure to provide the host of services online students' needs is critical to UW-Parkside's future success in offering any of its current programs online. Services such as advising, library services, career services, and registration are all key to student success. Therefore, ensuring the necessary services are in place online to support the student and faculty represents an opportunity, and necessary precursor, to offering a fully online degree program that is independent of other UW System institutions or UW Extension.For the next strategic planning process, the self-study identified the need to ensure the university has policies and procedures in place to provide a high-quality support infrastructure for the delivery of online programs. This is an exciting opportunity for UW-Parkside, and a worthy goal, allowing the institution to move forward with instructional innovation through the delivery of online degree programs, and ensures the quality of the education and services delivered to online students will meet the current, high standards provided to in-classroom students.