Extending Our Educational Dollars


Protecting the Reputation of the Institution

Attention to the infrastructure of any online program is immensely important to protecting the good name of a university or college.  The coursework, as viewed from the internet portal, must assure each visitor that each student will receive quality coursework online.  After all, these visitors may be prospective students, employers, graduate school admissions officers, scholarship foundations, or institutional donors.

The school must ensure that the targeted student is personally online taking the class, personally completing the required assignments, and personally completing all the requisites of the course and major as the units are awarded.  This is a difficult task, and the success or failure of the endeavor holds consequences.

The most obvious challenge involves student evaluation, which is more difficult to gauge with online students.   Therefore, an online program should be fashioned so that a reasonable amount of student-teacher interaction is possible.

Other implications come to mind.  Many students plan to attend graduate school, enter the military as an officer, apply for a professional school such as medicine, or perhaps enter a seminary or school of divinity.  Many of these students will need letters of recommendation from professors at some point to further their studies.  Taking too many online classes may negatively impact a student’s goals by minimizing the student-teacher connection so necessary to advancement.  Students may also lose the association between the class material they receive online and their long-term goals.

The importance of a teacher getting to know students is especially important in the intimate environment of a smaller university or college.  After all, many students have chosen the school, in part, for its smaller size and greater access to the teaching staff.  Yet, smaller institutions often have leaner budgets, and as such, feel more pressure to economize through the adoption of distance learning.  It is important not to lose the advantages that attract new students.

The good reputation of an institution must be protected when major initiatives are implemented in any of its programs.  The same holds true for distance learning.  No matter the quality of the presentation of the subject matter, attention to assessment and even perceptions is equally important.  For the most part, a university’s reputation is based quite heavily on its teaching staff, and its research.  Therefore, it is very important to have these people presiding over student academics, even if the university has a expansive online program.  The hybrid model can meet those needs well, merging people with technology.

© 2012 Laurie Mena


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