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Recommendations Made For Improvement/Expansion of Online Education - Little Action Taken

By Jeff Dutton
On March 28, 2011

In August of 2010 a report reviewing the status of online education at NEIU and providing recommendations for improving online course quality and online learning infrastructure was submitted to the Faculty Council on Academic Affairs (FACAC) and to the Provost. It was hoped that with the timing of the submission, action would be taken on its recommendations during the current academic year. As of this writing, the only action taken thus far has been the formation of an ad hoc committee.

The report was drafted by the Task Force on Online Learning (TFOL). The TFOL was conceived by the FACAC and the Provost in the middle of the 2009-2010 academic year and was assembled in February 2010. The TFOL was a body comprised of 12 faculty members, who were representative of the three colleges at NEIU and had experience with teaching and an interest in furthering online education at the university. They were charged with the task of reviewing the status of, and providing recommendations for, the improvement of online education at NEIU. According to sources on the task force, the members took their work very seriously, meeting at least every other week, while exchanging e-mails and ideas constantly. The culmination of their efforts was the report submitted to FACAC in August 2010.

Upon receiving the report, FACAC decided that it needed feedback from the faculty at large, prior to taking any action on its recommendations. A survey was sent out to the approximately 700 NEIU faculty members asking them whether they agreed or disagreed with the recommendations of the TFOL report. The survey received only 40 responses, and in no instance did a majority of respondents disagree with any of the recommendations of the report.

Of the numerous recommendations and goals for improvement laid out in the report, the TFOL deems certain ones to be time sensitive, requiring immediate action. These urgent recommendations included adopting campus-wide guidelines for evaluating the quality of courses, having each department develop a strategic plan for online teaching, investing in a university-wide evaluation system for all courses and the establishment of an advisory committee to address the ongoing needs and development of online learning throughout the university. The only recommendation the FACAC has taken is the creation of an ad hoc advisory committee to address the ongoing needs and development of online learning at NEIU. As of this writing, the ad hoc committee has only convened one time in January 2011.

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