In FY 2010-2011, World Campus, Penn State’s online learning arm of the university, student satisfaction survey with their undergraduate advisers, career counselors, and technical support specialists averaged more than 95 percent. That’s impressive.
What is more impressive and important is what Penn State learned from the years of experience in delivering online education. Although the paper was written only two years ago, the lessons are still relevant. The lessons are not out of the ordinary, they are not anything unusual, atypical, abnormal… you get the picture. They are sound lessons that are worth considering for higher education institutions of today and probably of tomorrow.
Here’s their lessons learned, taken directly from a paper written by Wayne Smuz, Executive Director of Penn State World Campus and Associate Vice President for Academic Outreach:
- Use technology where and how students expect it, where it adds value, where it can offer students options and where it can extend students services to be available almost 24/7.
- Use thoughtful metrics and data to determine which technology is working- and which isn’t. Don’t assume it will work as intended for students. Be prepared to stop using what doesn’t work.
- The personal touch is still important.
- Experiment regularly with new approaches and technologies.
- Colleges and universities can no longer do everything themselves. Consider working with businesses that specialize in certain kinds of services e.g.software development
- Student success doesn’t end with the degree, career services should be offered throughout the educational experience and beyond
- Online learners have varying familiarity with technology. Excellent and timely tech support and resources is critical
- Invest in learning design and faculty development. The quality of the engaged learning experience is dependent upon the commitment of faculty and learning designers to explore innovative ways of teaching and learning
- Be prepared to recognize that whatever decisions are made, they will need to be revised-probably sooner rather than later!
Read the whole paper by Wayne Smutz, Executive Director of Penn State World Campus and Associate Vice President for Academic Outreach.