Keynote explains need for accountability and accreditation
December 01, 2008 by Molly Small
At this year’s Axio Learning Community Meeting and Conference, Darcy Walsh Hardy provided the keynote presentation, addressing the issues of responsibility and accountability in online learning.
She stated that, in the future, accountability will make it necessary for institutions to be held responsible for the true education of their students. They will need to be able to prove that their students are not just leaving with a degree, but are leaving with the education that the institution had promised them that they would have upon graduation. Students must be prepared for the workplace, and unprepared students will reflect negatively upon institutions that provide them with sub-par education due to unsatisfactory online or face-to-face education.
Hardy said, “As accountability starts really rolling, and your institutions start looking at accountability for the institution, those of you in online education may be able to play a role in providing really good data that shows how students are learning in your courses.”
She said a collaboration of development and production is necessary for the creation of an effective and successful course. This collaboration must exist between the professors and professionals who are responsible for creating the online course.
“Faculty should not be expected to do both. Faculty are experts in their subject matter, they are experts in delivering instruction. They should be experts in interacting with their students. They should not be the ones who are responsible for loading all of the content, loading the tests, looking for graphics, wishing they had a multimedia flash presentation, searching YouTube to find something. This is where we have a real disconnect at most institutions,” Hardy said.
Hardy said that even with collaboration, the challenge to create a successful course remains. What makes a course successful? In order for a course to be lucrative, the goal should be that the students remember the content of the course. High levels of interaction and engaging content are vital to powerful online learning.
According to Hardy, successful courses:
- Are well designed
- Are thoughtfully developed
- Have valuable interaction built in
- Meet the principles of some quality standard
- Have institutional support
- Include quality services
Notes on online education from Hardy’s keynote
- The overall percent of schools identifying online education as a critical long-term strategy has grown from 49% in 2003 to 56% in 2005.
- The overall online enrollment increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004.
- In 2005, only 31% of chief academic officers believed that their faculty fully accepted the value and legitimacy of online education.
- Nearly 3.2 million students took at least one online course in fall 2005
- The more than 800,000 additional online students is more than twice the number added in any previous year.
- Online students represent close to 17% of all higher-education students.
- Two-thirds of the very largest (more than 15,000) schools have fully online programs.
Darcy W. Hardy is assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs and executive director of the UT TeleCampus, the unit within The University of Texas System that supports online delivery of system-wide collaborative academic programs from UT institutions. The UT TeleCampus serves as a portal for students and faculty to access courses, programs and virtually all services necessary for success when teaching and learning online. Hardy received her PhD in instructional technology from The University of Texas at Austin in 1992. She was a founding member and is a past president of the Texas Distance Learning Association and has served two separate terms on the TxDLA Board of Directors. Currently, she serves as Chair Emerita with the United States Distance Learning Association, where she has been a member of the Board of Directors since 1999, is a past president, and is responsible for founding the USDLA International Forum for Women in E-Learning.
To view Darcy Hardy’s conference presentation, visit the conference Web site, http://axioconference.org