|Action Project Details
1: Briefly describe the project in less than 100 words. Be sure to identify the key organizational areas (departments, programs, divisions, units, etc.) and key organizational processes that this action project will affect, change, and/or improve :
A: This project is part of a series devoted to improving distance education. The goal of this project is to create a one-stop online resource for students in both face-to-face and distance education courses. Resources gathered on the page will include instructional documents on subjects like using flash drives and checking emails; links to online resources, such as online typing tutorials; suggested phone and tablet applications for time management; a list of frequently asked questions compiled by the IT department; and an online readiness self-assessment that provides students a clear indication of their ability to succeed in an online learning environment.
2: Describe your institution’s reasons for initiating this action project now and for how long it should take to complete it. Why are this project and its goals high among your institution’s current priorities? Also, explain how this project relates to any strategic initiatives or challenges described in the institution’s recent or soon-to-be submitted systems portfolio:
A: The College is pursuing this project to address concerns of online student retention and success. This project was developed as of a continuation of the previous action project: Developing Student Guidelines for Online Learning. This project supports AQIP Category One: Helping Students Learn in that this project will help identify under-prepared students and will create an online student support service to help those students. AQIP Category Two: Meeting Student and Other Key Stakeholder Needs is also supported by this project in that the College is working to meet changing student needs. Although online students may not visit the main campus, they still need access to resources.
Since HLC granted permission to Mineral Area College to expand its distance education program, the College has focused initiatives on ensuring the quality of instruction and providing students and staff with additional resources. The institution wants to be proactive in identifying students who are at risk of being unsuccessful in web classes. In order to ensure student success in the online classroom, the College has identified a need for an online resource that addresses the skills and information needed for students to be successful in an online learning environment. In addition, this committee is working on devising a self assessment for students to complete inventorying their strengths and weaknesses pertaining to their ability to be successful in online learning.
One of the Organizational Priorities in the College’s recently implemented Strategic Plan is “Elevating Student Success.” This project, while not a specific goal within the Strategic Plan, will directly affect the success of students in both online and face-to-face courses.
This planning of this project began in October 2014 with the actual work on the project starting in the spring 2015 semester and fully implemented by the fall 2015 semester, with semester updates after full implementation.
3: List the project goals, milestones, and deliverables along with corresponding metrics, due dates, and other measures for assessing the progress for each goal. Be sure to include formal evaluations when the project progress will be reviewed:
A: The overall goal of this project is to create a resource page for students. In order to make this project manageable and stay on schedule, the committee has broken the project into two main focus points.
The first part of this project is to develop the resources website. This website will include a list of suggested technology requirements, instructional documents on a variety of computer tasks, links to additional online resources, and a list of useful phone and tablet applications. The committee will compile a list from their research and ask for input from departments for specific content-area resources. This part of the project will be completed within the first half of the spring 2015 semester, with the website implemented by the second eight week session starting March 16, 2015. After the initial page launch, the committee will survey students about recommended resources and solicit their feedback on the website.
The second part of this project is to create a self-assessment tool for students to determine if they are prepared for an online course. Advisors and online instructors will encourage students to participate in this optional assessment. This tool will allow the College to examine the correlation between the student’s self-assessment score and final course grade. This assessment will not affect a student’s ability to enroll in online courses, but will give students an indication of their ability to succeed. The questions from this self-assessment will be derived from the Student MOU and faculty input. The students will receive feedback for each response regardless of the answer. The goal of this assessment is to reiterate the rigor of online courses and provide students with advice on the technical and academic preparation they will need in order to succeed in an online learning environment. This component of the project will be implemented by summer semester 2015.
Throughout the process, the committee will seek feedback from students enrolled in both online and face-to-face classes and will make modifications as necessary. The resource page will be a fluid document and will evolve as the student needs change.
4: Describe how various members of the learning community will participate in this action project. Show the breadth of involvement by individuals and groups over the project’s duration :
A:The committee is comprised of two Arts & Sciences faculty members, one Career & Technical faculty member, an EXCEL academic tutor/adjunct instructor, the Learning Management Systems coordinator, and the Instructional Librarian. All faculty members on the committee have experience teaching online. Two Help Desk Professionals are compiling a Frequently Asked Questions list for the resource page.
The committee will solicit feedback from faculty and students at several intervals during the project. After compiling an initial resource list, the committee will survey faculty and advisors for feedback and further resource suggestions. The committee will survey students after the page has been implemented to discern the usefulness of the page and solicit suggestions for more resources. To ensure the long-term quality of the resource page, the committee will develop a plan to periodically survey faculty and students and update the resource page accordingly.
The self-assessment tool will be developed from the Student MOU, with input from faculty and the Help Desk to address common issues students encounter.
5: Describe how the institution will monitor project progress/success during, and at the completion of this project. Be sure to specifically state the measures that will be evaluated and when:
A:The success of the project will be monitored in several ways. First, the committee will examine the quality and quantity of resources collected. The committee will seek feedback from faculty members prior to the launch of the compiled resource page. After the page is launched, the committee will survey students to determine usefulness of the resources on the page and what other additional resources are needed.
The committee will send out emails to students and encourage faculty to share information about the resource page. After the resource page is launched and students are notified, the committee will examine usage statistics for the page. At the conclusion of the fall 2015 semester, the committee will do some comparisons between student success in courses taught prior to the launch of the resource page and after its inception.
6: Describe the challenges that may be encountered in successfully completing the project or for institutionalizing the learning from the project’s goals:
A:The committee anticipates few challenges to completing this project. One concern would be ensuring students are directed to the resource page on a regular basis. The committee plans to send mass emails out to faculty and students when the page is launched and when it is updated. The Student MOU, which will be required in the spring 2015 semester, will direct students to the resource page once it is created. The committee will notify academic advisors and ask them to direct potential online students to the self-assessment tool.
The creation of resources, such as tutorials and the self-assessment tool, is a time-intensive process, which will could present a challenge to the committee.
7: Provide any additional information that the institution wishes for reviewers to understand regarding this action project:
A:The College is committed to enhancing the quality of its distance education programs and envisions this project as one more positive step in that direction. The committee is considering the long-term positive effects of this project and is putting procedures in place to ensure the resource page is continually updated as new resources become available.