What Do You Really Need to Offer High Quality Online Learning: A Brainstorming Session

Concurrent Session 9
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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This panel will tackle how to finance an institution’s online offerings—how do we afford what we need to assure our students have high quality online courses?  Our panel members are college-level online coordinators in charge of, among other things, supporting faculty in our college who teach online and blended courses. 


Dr. Tamara Powell is the Director of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Office of Distance Education. She is an alumni of the OLC Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning and a mentor for the OLC Online Teaching Certificate Program. She enjoys working with faculty as they translate their face-to-face teaching genius into an electronic experience.
Deborah Mixson-Brookshire, is a Professor of Management at Kennesaw State University. She has been an educator for over 18 years. Striving to create an innovative classroom experience for her students, she utilizes experiential education tools including distance learning to accomplish course outcomes. Deborah has published a variety of articles involving her experiential learning and distance learning research interest. Instructing and leading a variety of workshops, she is able to share her research and experiential pedagogical methods with others. She has also given international and national presentations sharing her passion for teaching and distance learning.
Dr. Julie Moore is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University where she also serves as the Instructional Technology Ed.D. Program Coordinator and Bagwell College of Education's Distance Learning Coordinator.

Extended Abstract

What Do You Really Need to Offer High Quality Online Learning: A Brainstorming Session 

Kennesaw State University was funding high quality online learning through an extra tuition charge of $100 per credit hour, called etuition. This revenue funded technology, instructional designers, faculty development, instructional technology, online course support, quality assessment, and other support for online learning. In fact, KSU had a rule in place that every penny from the etuition had to support online learning, and several times the university produced documents tracking every penny and showing that rule was being obeyed. However, the Georgia Board of Regents has ruled that etuition must be completely phased out by 2020, reducing the amount by 1/3 for three years. To adjust, KSU has already stopped providing funds from the etuition to the ten colleges at the university. Online learning budgets have gone from six figures to zero.  The big lesson we have learned is what we really needed to offer high quality online learning—and that we can no longer afford.  The panelists will briefly share our findings and rationales. Then, we want to hear from the audience and brainstorm what other institutions have realized they really need to offer high quality online learning, and what tips and tricks they have to offer high quality online learning without institutional financial support.

This panel will tackle the ever present topic of how to finance an institution’s online offerings—how do we pay for the items that ensure our students have high quality online courses?  Our panel members are all college-level online coordinators in charge of, among other things, supporting faculty in our college who teach online and hybrid courses. We also support faculty who wish to use technology in their face-to-face courses.  Our approaches vary with regard to our colleges and disciplines, and we have felt it beneficial to work together and collaborate in order to broaden our perspectives.  

Brief Presentations 


To start the discussion, three online coordinators at Kennesaw State University will briefly (5 minutes) describe what we found out were the most valuable investments we had made to support high quality online offerings. And then we will discuss what, if any, workarounds we found. Then, we will ask the audience to discuss what they definitely have to have at their institutions to deliver high quality online learning and how they finance those needs.

Tamara Powell: College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

The biggest investment the College of Humanities and Social Sciences had made in high quality online education was in faculty professional development. Faculty in the college were offered the opportunity to participate in a 12-session, hybrid, professional development workshop wherein they learned about everything from course design to Quality Matters to pedagogy to instructional technology to strategies to support student success. At the end, if they attended every session, participated in every assignment, and created a course to Quality Matters standards, they received $3,000. Each faculty member could participate only once, and there were completely online refresher workshops with $1500 stipends. The etuition also made possible a full time Director of the Office of Distance Education for the College and a full time instructional designer. Together, they offered a “one stop shop” for college faculty needing any assistance with hybrid, online, or technology enhanced teaching. Without the funding from the e-tuition, CHSS has found a way to keep the Director of the Office of Distance Education and the instructional designer. A main challenge is offering the professional development, and motivating faculty to participate and complete successfully, without any financial incentive. This presentation will address new strategies and the outcomes, including creating automated professional development using simulation-creation software.

Deborah Mixson-Brookshire: University College  

With the increasing enrollment and limited resources, we need to ensure the quality of our online/blended courses is continuously improving. Within our college, we value the faculty member’s expertise and desire to create an online course. Our faculty were paid a one-time fee to create an online course adhering to QM standards for review. Additionally, we offered summer project opportunities with a stipend for faculty to learn new technology and apply it in a course, revamp a course, complete a RCA distance learning project, or create a hybrid course. These opportunities were funded to support a high quality online experience for our students. Furthermore, I will share details of our college’s one stop shop and the value of providing ongoing faculty professional development opportunities that will continue to enhance our courses within our college.

Julie Moore: Bagwell College of Education  

In Bagwell College of Education, one of the chief teaching strategies is discussion protocols. Using protocols in online discussion boards requires no financial investment. One strategy our college employs is that of faculty mentors. We have master courses that are taught by various faculty, and we work hard to make sure those courses are created to the highest quality. Also, because our college has to adhere to various accreditation standards, and we have to help our students better understand those standards, it’s important that all faculty teaching those courses teach them in the designed way. Mentors serve to check in to those courses and ensure they are being delivered as designed. We were able to fund these mentor positions with the revenue from the etuition. We are now exploring several options to support the consistent teaching of these online courses without the mentor positions.

Questions for Discussion 

After presenting brief descriptions of the strategies employed by each college, the panel will open up to questions from the audience and a larger discussion of how generally to achieve high quality in online courses.  We expect a few clarifying questions at the outset of the discussion portion. Then, in order to foster discussion, we will divide the audience into three groups and organize them at different points in the room. We will put up large pieces of sticky paper and divide up the questions, below.  Each online coordinator will take a group and guide a more intimate group discussion with one of the questions below.

1. If you had a budget of only $5,000, and a mission of creating courses and programs that foster student success, what would you spend your money on?

2. What one financial investment that your institution has made is, in your mind, the most beneficial to create high quality online courses or programs?  

3. How do you motivate faculty to employ best practices in teaching online without financial incentives?  

We will record each group’s discussion main points on the large sticky paper, and we will take pictures of and Tweet the results of each conversation so that all participants (and all OLC attendees, if interested) can view the results from each group.