University of Southern California (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 7490-7495
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.2003
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
UML is a popular modeling language used in software engineering to visualize the design of a system, primarily designed for object-oriented modeling (Rumbaugh et al.,1991). UML diagrams help show where improvements can be made toward the goal of improving system performance (Bézivin et al.,1998). UML was successfully used in the field of education to conceptualize and optimize pedagogical strategies and formalize learning and teaching theories (Rokou et al.,2004). In this paper, we build on previous work and use UML as a starting point to model our distance education programs at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC with the goal of identifying the factors needed to evaluate and improve the program. To achieve our goal, we first developed a UML diagram for the Online Master Program at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC [OFPOM].

The process begins with prospective applicants (i.e., practicing dentists) who apply to the program and go through recruitment. Once the selection process is completed, the applicant may or may not become a student (e.g., applicants may reconsider and apply at a later time, or do not meet the application requirements and leave the system).

The staff support team’s main roles include student recruitment, registration and help desk support as the student enters the program. Faculty participates in the applicant review process and student evaluations once the academic activities begin. The events are dependent on the type of program, and represent the different activities that the student complete to comply with the program requirements. We have identified three main components in our model: the virtual classroom component includes all online activities, the events component includes all face-to-face activities, and the evaluations component includes all the testing for the program.

An expert review of the diagram was conducted by participating faculty and staff. Changes in the program implementation were identified leading to corrections and updates on the program documentation (i.e., student manual and faculty/staff handbook). To further validate and improve our model we use actual cases to capture the experience of actual program students. For example, to identify missing activities and interactions. Ultimately, this model will play a critical role to assess the quality of the program by providing a framework on which the performance of each one the components and sub-components is monitored and the impact of changes can be contextualized.

Our Online OFPOM Program UML diagram combines the sequence of activities with the different actors, highlighting the interaction between the three main components of the program. We further discuss how such an UML diagram is a valuable tool to identify and visualize the different elements and interactions of an academic program and how the diagram can be leveraged to assess and maintain the quality of the program and identify areas of improvement.
UML, academic experience, educational assessment, OFPOM.