A tale of evaluating f2f and online course sections

Home Forums Enhancement, evaluation, and reflection (Week 6) TEL One A tale of evaluating f2f and online course sections

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  PeterHartley 6 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #25760

    James Kerr

    We created an online version of a course to meet demand for additional enrollments. The thought process went something like this: “We need several more sections of this course, but then we’ll have to hire additional instructors or pay overloads. Let’s create an online section and then we’ll only have to add one course.”

    I was not involved in the decision making process that led to this project.

    We did our best to create an online course experience for the students enrolled in this section that was equivalent to the f2f version. Equivalency is not the same as being identical, and soon students in both courses (the online section and the f2f sections) were railing that the other section had it “easier” because the formats were different. No amount of explaining why the online course needed a different format would appease either group.

    In addition to traditional end-of-course student evaluations, we also asked the online students additional questions about their experience with the course. The courses, both online and f2f, were lambasted.

    Queue the predictable administrative response: “Make the courses identical.”

    Despite our protests, we were forced to make the online course follow the exact same format as the f2f courses, with recorded lectures and the exact same schedule and activities. After the second run of the online  section, students abandoned it utterly and completely. Reviews were terrible, evaluations indicated students would rather sit in a f2f class than watch a recorded f2f class. Exactly as we designers predicted. There were no more online sections offered for that course, and the administration became that much more cynical about online classes.

    Sound like ten years ago or more? Unfortunately, that was about two years ago. Names and locations have been avoided completely.

    The point to this story? No amount of good data from well-developed evaluation strategies can make up for poor decision making at higher levels.

  • #25858


    A salutory tale, James – you are not alone! I and colleagues was once forced to deliver a mass lecture/interdisciplinary/tech-supported/CAA-assessed/cross-faculty module which was a complete disaster for all concerned. Them on high justified the decision to offer the module in the pursuit of interdisciplinary and efficiency – both of which failed. It is worth commenting that all our successful webinar case studies were effectively ‘bottom-up’ initiatives.

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