10 Specific Suggestions

to Improve Your E-Learning Programs and Courses
Barry Dahl Lake Superior College

Lake Superior College
Duluth, Minnesota 3,500 FTE/7,500 headcount Associate Degree Programs Combined Community and Technical College Three universities within ten minute drive.

Growth of LSC Virtual Campus
25,000 20,000
19,722 22,951 21,757 22,881


10,000 5,000
3,897 6,771 738 2,176


FY00 FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07

Minnesota Online
25 Colleges and 7 Universities make up Minnesota Online. Website: minnesotaonline.org 1,000’s of online courses and over 150 online programs. Centralized support functions.

Growth of Minnesota Online


6,000 4,000
19,722 5,476

2,000 0


FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07

Minnesota Online Recognition CAEL Award for
Institutional Service for 2006

Tekne Award for existing
technology user category

Ten Specific Suggestions
Not all of these will apply to each situation. Pick a few good ones and throw away the rest. This is NOT AT ALL an attempt to compete with Letterman’s Top Ten List. SORRY!

#10: Online Tutoring
LSC contracts annually with SMARTHINKING.com to provide online tutoring services, since 2004. Starting in 2007, MnOnline joined by buying a large block of hours and allocating to campuses. Campuses needing additional hours benefit from reduced rates because of quantity discounts.

LSC Online Tutoring Usage Report
Via SMARTHINKING Affiliate Usage Report

Interaction Type Online Writing Lab Live Sessions Submitted Questions Total






360 84 18 462

180 34 6 220

447 132 20 599

261 51 6 318

642 102 34 778

374 39 11 424

#9: Don’t Ignore ADA
Provide disabilities training for faculty and staff.
Be prepared for your OCR review because they will ask about this. Be 508-compliant before you need it.

The main reason: IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!! Free Online Training from GA Tech http://www.accesselearning.net/

This web resource is free and open to all.

Must Complete #1 & 2

For Online Faculty, they then choose one more of the remaining 8 modules for a total of 3.

#8: Share and Share Alike
Share students between institutions. Share faculty between institutions. Share learning objects with the academic community. Share your ideas and best practices with everybody. Check out Creative Commons for sharing of intellectual property.

CC License Options
Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) Attribution (by) Plus other similar combinations.

#7: Survey Says
Student demographics surveys. Student satisfaction surveys (related to the virtual campus and e-services). Course evaluation surveys. Survey your online faculty to determine their needs and practices. Nationally benchmarked: Noel-Levitz PSOL (Priorities Survey Online Learners) You need data to make data-based decisions.

High-Speed Access
80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

Hi-Speed Internet

Dial-up Internet

Based on self-reporting from student demographics surveys

Student Satisfaction
LSC used the Noel-Levitz Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL) in 2004, 2005, and 2006. In 2006, this became a MnOnline initiative with 17 schools participating. More schools joined in 2007. Student satisfaction blog reports the results: http://blog.lsc.edu/psol/

#6: Employ Distance Learners
Online Student Mentor Program – Began Fall 2003 Mentor is assigned to a particular course.
Help with technical aspects—especially at beginning of course Answer general questions Support the instructor

Student mentors have often become future teachers Provides employment for students w/unique circumstances

Actual Student Email
I just want to tell you how much I loved your class!!! I was not looking forward to a lit class, but your class ended up being my favorite!!! I was just wondering if that student mentor thing is a work/study thing and if I could possibly do it next semester. I qualify for work/study, but I couldn’t do it this past semester since I don’t live in Duluth. Danielle

#5: Quality Rubrics
Create or find a rubric for assessing online course quality (and all courses, if possible) such as MarylandOnline Quality Matters.

Another rubric has been developed at Metropolitan State University to assess course readiness before it is offered for the first time.

Quality Control: Course Design
LSC adopted a revised version of Quality Matters in 2004, it is facultydriven and optional. LSC faculty-led workshops have spread this concept throughout the MnOnline system. Peer Review Blog: all documents and commentary

#4: Enhance Your E-Services
WCET E-Services “Beyond the Core” Pay attention to the difference between “e-student services” and “student eservices.” 90% of your students want to use effective e-services.

Recognizing this emerging need as early as 2002, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU) contracted with WCET to research best practices in Web-based services and to co-develop an audit tool to help measure the sophistication of the e-student services offered by its 32-member campuses.

#3: Be Creative
Online P.E. classes tied to World-class Athletic Events

Grandma’s Marathon (running) American Birkebeiner (skiing) NorthShore Inline Marathon (skating)

Train at home, then compete in event. Webpage

Katie Frerker, Online PE Student
Works for the US Forest Service in Idaho Took LSC online course to prepare for the American Birkebeiner Finished first in her race class in 2006 Birkie
“By taking the online Birkie class, I was able to beat my personal goal. It really paid off for a first time racer.”

#2: Be Flexible
Schedule flexibility is a fabulous thing for students. One size does NOT fit all. The traditional agrarian school calendar serves no purpose in online education. Create multiple starting points, with different term lengths, and target different populations.

Example of Life Interruption
Psychology PsychologyPsychology 12 Weeks Invested, 12 Credits Paid For, No Credits Earned, With Little Incentive To Return

Humanities Humanities Humanities





History 4 weeks

History 8 weeks 12 weeks

Alternate Outcome
Psychology 12 Weeks Invested, 12 Credits Paid For, 9 Credits Earned, With More Incentive To Return



History - No 4 weeks 8 weeks 12 weeks

#1: Dealing with Plagiarism
Student plagiarism is a teachable moment – seize the opportunity. Barry’s Personal Opinion: Services like Turnitin.com are an abomination. “On what planet does it make sense to violate the intellectual property rights of the students to teach them not to violate the intellectual property rights of others?” Blog post.

Turnitin Badge

Contact Info:
Barry Dahl Vice President of Technology & the Virtual Campus Lake Superior College b.dahl@lsc.edu 218.733.7690

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