University of Rhode Island (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 249-257
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0106
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Distance education has been a common program modality in Library and Information Studies for well over two decades. Multiple universities have offered fully online or hybrid Master’s of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) degrees in the traditional academic calendar (e.g., semester or quarter). These programs tend to take 1-2 years to complete if a student is enrolled full-time, or 2-4 years if a student is enrolled part-time.

In Fall 2021, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (URI GSLIS) launched the first accelerated online MLIS degree in the United States. All courses are offered in seven-week sessions, with a total of six of these sessions offered each academic year. The accelerated calendar allows students to complete the entire 36-credit program in one year if they enroll full-time, taking two courses concurrently in each of the six sessions. Alternatively, students can complete the entire 36-credit program in two years if they enroll part-time, taking one course at a time in each of the six sessions.

In order to launch the program, URI GSLIS faculty needed to convert all existing courses from the traditional 14-week semester to the 7-week session. This required substantial effort to review course learning outcomes, topics, readings, assignments, and lectures to ensure that courses still met the university requirement of 135 hours of student work for a 3-credit graduate course but were also manageable for students to achieve the course learning objectives by the end of seven weeks. Faculty took multiple approaches to converting their courses. All courses underwent a Quality Matters review prior to being run.

This paper will detail one faculty member’s process of converting semester-long (14-week) courses to the accelerated calendar. Three models were employed by the presenter:
(1) using half-weeks so that a course could retain 14 topics,
(2) collapsing topics to focus on key content areas in a weekly format, and
(3) using project-based modules where students engage with learning materials for 1-2 weeks then complete a project.

Each model will be discussed in detail, including what the model entails, why the model was selected for the specific course(s), how the model was implemented in the course(s), the pros and cons of the model from an instructor perspective, and success rates for students in the model. At the time of submission, the presenter has converted one course in the half-week model (which has already been run with students), two courses in the collapsing topics model (both of which ran in Fall 2021), and two courses using project-based modules (one of which ran in Fall 2021 and one of which ran in Spring 2022).

This paper will be of interest to anyone working in distance learning modalities, especially in higher education. The three pedagogical models employed in converting courses from 14-week semesters to 7-week sessions can be applied in a variety of disciplines, and in different semester lengths.
Distance learning, online learning, accelerated online education, library and information studies, master’s degrees.