Virtual C&T Meeting; held electronically via email throughout the week of March 1-5, 2004.

 

As we did not have a quorum at our last meeting, this ?virtual meeting? was the only way we could make a decision on a pressing question facing the Center for Lifelong Learning.? Teresa Peck, associate vice president for enrollment and academic services, asked the Committee on behalf of the CLL.

 

The question:

We are asked for a Committee resolution on whether we think that the use of 100% online WebCT for Core courses for part-time, adult learners in the Saturday Accelerated Sessions is acceptable.

 

Totals               ???????????? 8 yea    1 nay

                                      9 votes cast     

 

Resolution:

 

"The Committee on Curriculum and Teaching approves the use of 100% online WebCT for Core classes in the College's Saturday Accelerated Sessions. This use of online instruction is not materially different from previous uses for the general student population both in the summer sessions and during regular semesters. These previous uses were never formally approved by faculty governance in general and therefore have only tacit approval.

    However, this represents the use of online instruction in yet another realm of the College's curricular offerings and we are troubled by the prospect of this technology playing a major role in instruction at the College without explicit review by the faculty. We therefore resolve that although this current proposed use of online instruction is approved for now, the entire topic of online instruction will be brought to the faculty for consideration. We must determine formal guidelines that govern the extent to which such technologies may be used for instruction."

 

 

Discussion highlights:

 

Initial Communication from the Chair:

The Saturday Accelerated Sessions are 8-week sessions. The "Saturday" refers to the fact that the courses are taught only on Saturdays, for 4 hours each Saturday. These sessions are only open to our part-time students under normal circumstances. For WebCT, the "Saturday" specification only means that the WebCT course, which has much more scheduling flexibility, occurs within the same 8-week calendar constraints as the other Saturday sessions.

 

We have an immediate concern, brought to me by Teresa Peck, about the increasing use of WebCT for distance education in the Core. Specifically, the Center for Lifelong Learning, CLL, wants to make available a "Saturday Accelerated Session" Core course, taught via the web exclusively, for some of its only accelerated session customers, part-time adult learners. (Full-time students are not usually allowed to take these classes.) This has not been done before. The plan is to follow this course with a subsequent Core offering, e.g. Core 160 followed by a 16x or similar sequence. As yet, there is no specific course in mind. (Details may change by next week.)

 

The Administration is very concerned about our opinion on this matter, especially as it is the tip of an iceberg we have yet to approach as a Committee: To what extent are online or distance ed. courses acceptable for degree requirements? Teresa's main concern is alerting the faculty to the trends in CLL so that we may guide their decision-making processes. I think it is very important and commendable that Administration is asking us FIRST, before roaring off into the sunset and possibly angering faculty. They, too, have general concerns about the role WebCT or similar distance education plays in a King's degree. They are asking for our help!

So far, WebCT has not been used for this audience, though it has already been used for Core courses in other sessions; semester and summer.

 

 

Some pertinent information:

a. King's has offered exclusively web-based Core courses in the semester and summer sessions. These were open to all students.

b. In summer 2003, for example, the following 100% online courses were offered:

Core 130 American Civilization

Core 151 American Government

Core 154 Psychological Foundations

Core 160 Literature and the Arts

Core 163 Historical Perspectives in British Literature

Hist 425 Seminar and Research in Community and Urban Studies

IB 241    Introduction to International Business

MSB 300    Principles of Management

Psyc 215  Computer Applications in Psychology

Psyc 350  Theories of Personality

Psyc 391  Human Sexuality

c. The proposal is therefore for offering WebCT in a more restricted environment than has already been done.

d. The Chair's opinion is, at this moment, that there is nothing inherently troublesome in the proposal as it is just a re-creation, for a different and arguably more focused and mature audience, of a practice we, the Faculty, have already tacitly approved.

e. The Chair may be dead wrong.

f. To any resolution agreeing with the stated WebCT use, the Chair also would like to add a statement about the need to study the broader implications further in the near future. This will be communicated to Council and the Faculty.

g.  To any resolution Disagreeing with the stated WebCT use, the Chair also would like to add justification as to why this situation differs markedly from previous situations. If not markedly different, this calls into question our present uses of WebCT and we must likewise study the broader implications further in the future. This will be communicated to Council and the Faculty.

h. Either way, folks, there's an iceberg ahead.

 

Subsequent communications among the Committee members:

 

?I had a brief conversation with [a faculty member] who conducted a 100% WebCt course during the summer.  [That faculty member] is a lot less uncomfortable with "non-traditional" students taking 100% WebCt than traditional age college students but still has serious issues about assessment and 100% WebCT. I too have not yet thought through this subject. For example, I am quite hesitant about allowing "principles" level courses in the business area to be done 100% WebCT.  These are building block courses that provide the theory and language for higher level courses and although case method (and other assessment instruments are useful), in-class question/answer (real time discussion) and in-class examination are tried and true techniques I am not so ready to abandon.?

 

?I have some reservations about the program, but not enough to vote no at this time.  I would be very interested to find out what a search or investigation of the program as it currently operates would be evaluated.  I would also be interested in looking at others school's views of expanding, reducing, or eliminating such programs.?

 

?A few comments....I agree that this situation is, as stated, even less than has been done before with CORE's.

 

Maybe for future discussion (certainly not necessary now) ....

 

If the WebCT courses are going to be considered differently from other courses, we would first need to identify how WebCT differs from "normal" courses.? In other words, if WebCT is exactly the same in content, quality and method as the other courses offered, then we would not need special considerations for each application and we would not have to vote on each situation.? My guess is that the WebCT is considered an alternative in some cases, but that people believe it is a "lesser" course that is not quite as robust as a classroom taught course in other cases, and therefore should not be used as a substitute in all situations.? Otherwise, there would be no reason that we could not teach every class as a WebCT and save the money we spend on classrooms and offices.

 

So, I think in order to address the validity of using WebCT to different degrees in the curriculum, we should first identify how these courses may not fulfill the teaching standards required in some courses.? i.e.? It would be nearly impossible to see a WebCT course replace a laboratory course because "wet labs" cannot be done in this manner.? Maybe others can identify a reason why a WebCT course is not the same as the way we teach some other courses.? This could help us clearly see where WebCT is a perfect alternative, and where it could not be.

 

Answer this for me...how would you compare a student taught entirely by WebCT to one taught entirely in the classical classroom style in your field?? Are they equivalent?? If so, then we shouldn't have to approve every use of WebCT.? If not, then we have to figure out when the differences matter enough as to not accept this alternative.?

 

?I won't comment too much:? I thought [the above] comments were especially profound and speak for my general opinion on this issue.? I think a set of parameters needs to be set by the faculty/faculty council/C&T (whatever) in the VERY near future (ASAP) which in effect "draws the line" somewhere.? Maybe it's lab courses, maybe anything that isn't a CORE course (again, whatever), but I think we need to address this issue SOON.?

 

?I agree with the comments above and with the notion that we are at the tip of a giant iceberg.?

 

My current vote is YEA since it includes the caveat that the entire topic will be brought up for further consideration.

 

?I also agree with another?s admonition that such discussion should be soon.?

 

From the one ?Nay? vote:

?I have used Web CT since its inception at King's and have found the Bulletin Board and Course Content functions very useful as course supplements.  However, a 100% Web CT course completely goes against the component of my philosophy of teaching that I hold most dear, i.e., that the relationship between the faculty member and the students is the most important of all the learning/teaching tools.  I just can't see how a meaningful relationship of this type can be achieved through the use of computers, even if supplemented by telephone calls and/or an occasional office visits.

 

The possibility of limiting the approval of Web CT courses is also troubling.  I have found that the Core classes I have taught every semester are the ones where students are the most likely to engage in meaningful in-class participation.  The loss of oral presentations also occurs in Web CT courses, a learning mechanism which is very important not only to the presenters but also to their fellow students.

 

I am not implying that by my vote that my C and T colleagues and the Chair have not made good points, in fact, you have.  I do appreciate the chance to explain my position and look forward to further discussing this subject at committee meetings in the near future.?