In Chapter 3: Online Learning, Bier says, “By the end of the 18th century, the Internet was pretty much the online world, the place where people went to keep up with the Joneses and to socialize. In some ways, the Internet seemed to be every businessperson’s ideal domain.
Which Is True About Online Learning (chapter 3)
Here is a new website that claims to provide in-depth assessments about online learning. It claims to answer many questions. I actually wrote a post about this site several months ago. Here is a summary of the information that could be gleaned from the site, and add your own insights in the comments.
First, it’s generally accepted that virtually all online colleges do not implement their own internal assessments. All colleges use assessments for both internal and external purposes. But most programs do not implement own internal tests for internal and external purposes. They use external tests. Whether any part of the system already used is new or utilizes new content from external resources is not determined.
These kinds of “generics” tests that do little to measure student learning, are just inexpensive tests that the program markets as a valuable way to monitor student progress. The major difference is that within this different process, how accurate and comparable are these assessments to that of in-person assessment? Moreover, this content may come from different vendors who are actually selling different services within the program (e.g., learner-centered assessment, only learner-centered assessment). It may come from different third-party organizations that have been brought into the program to supplement the development processes of the program. One of the critical questions for online programs to manage is who actually writes the assessment content? Which vendor’s materials are being used? How exactly is that content different from what was previously used, and is that content comparable to what has been in place?
For instance, how accurate is the content on the three major “New Approaches”’ assessments? Can you detect which provider is using which assessment? How accurate are the simulations? Is there any consistency with other material or resources that you can examine to evaluate the validity of the content?
An entire section of the site clearly has a different focus than the three major New Approaches’ tests. In terms of abstract describing this version, you get to a few points (including standard high school course descriptions, etc.) and then some specific text not focused on any particular course, or no text at all.
Is there any type of tests that cover the areas of each assessment? Is there any type of assessment that covers all three New Approaches’ assessments? I had asked these questions before, to no avail.
The section is supposed to be the home of “staff interviews” about online learning. The “employee trainings” section is another area of this site, which is still not complete. But the section that is complete is supposed to be an interview series of staff members from online programs, who discuss what online learning means for them, their jobs, and their students.
My impression was that these things happened before. But I did not hear any staff say anything that was new or surprising to me. No additional articles were written about online learning or online learning best practices.
The question is, have staff members actually asked the new questions about online learning that the web site started with? Have they suggested any new additions, or recommendations for areas that could benefit from new practices and policies? I did not hear anything suggesting that online education requires a completely different and different approach than in-person education.
Interestingly, the web site is trying to support this section that encourages staff members to ask, but I couldn’t find an explicit link to a (new) document supporting the questions I suspect they were asked before.
The director of programs section includes, among other things, a section under the heading “Program Administration” for people “whose job is to make things happen at schools.” Here is the section that is supposed to be to do “program administration for projects related to online learning”:
#983.0750 Who is in charge of Online Learning Interactions, Promotion, and Enrollment?
If you are not sure what this section meant, read the document section with it. The document section begins by defining this role:
#983.0745 Principal Online Learning.
The two distinct roles that online learning programs may have, are acting as lead system administrator and directors of online learning for each particular program. Lead program administrators define an online learning program’s infrastructure and set the program’s direction and strategy. Their roles include modeling programs online, running programs, managing marketing programs and partnering programs with out-of-state school systems, and building membership enrollment programs that target target predominately Caucasian students, children or families, with limited English language capabilities, and those with English language learners (ELL) attributes.
If the staff at the school were in charge of creating, evaluating, evaluating, publishing, executing, and monitoring online learning programs in the district or district, they would have the right to be involved in this role for each program.