About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5616-5623
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain

STRATEGIC DECISIONS FOR SUSTAINING QUALITY IN AN ONLINE GRADUATE EDUCATION DEGREE PROGRAM

E. Whitford1, B. Barnett2

1Armstrong Atlantic State University (UNITED STATES)
2Ramapo College (UNITED STATES)
The purpose of this presentation and paper is to provide an analysis of the strategic decisions made in the development and implementation of a quality, sustainable fully online master of education degree program. The challenges to implementation of the program ranged from navigating the demands of a series of accrediting agencies and state and federal bureaucracies, to planning the budget, designing the curriculum, selecting the faculty, and finally to creating a master’s degree program that would be attractive to working professionals.

Increasingly, graduate level degrees are offered in an online format. Such programs offer students convenience and ease of completion that is not available in the traditional university setting. They suit the needs of career-focused professionals with multiple demands of work and family. Along with the convenience of completing a graduate program online, often comes the assumption that the program itself may not be as difficult as a traditional university campus. In reality, high quality online graduate programs are challenging academically and universities must demonstrate that comparable standards are met in every program regardless of the delivery system.

In order to offer quality, sustainable online graduate programs, universities must invest considerable time in planning and making upfront decisions to develop programs that meet the expectations and needs of students, that comply with the requirements of accrediting and governing bodies, and can compete successfully in a market where potential students have many attractive choices.

The program that is the focus of this analysis was designed by a state university in the Southeastern United States, and as such was responsible for compliance with both state and federal regulations, including issues related to federal funding, time allocations for credit hours, and accommodations for student with disabilities.

The analysis will address the steps taken to assure that the curriculum and assessment plan of the online program met the standards established by both state and national accrediting groups, including the additional requirement that graduates of the program would be expected to pass a state licensure test for eligible for state certification. It will consider how decisions were made based on a range of options for the structure of the program, the delivery system, a database system for program evaluation data, the budget, including the cost to students for tuition and fees, and the qualifications of the faculty in both content expertise and skills in online pedagogy. Further analysis will be provided for the decisions made to address the needs of adult learners, some of whom have limited access or skills in technology and little or no experience with learning in an online environment. Additional focus will be given on strategies to assure program quality. Although there are several options for assuring that online programs maintain the same integrity and standards as on campus programs in addition to meeting their own unique needs, an internal process of quality management was implemented as a peer review, collaborative process.

Through this analysis, the authors will demonstrate that online graduate programs can and should meet high standards for academic rigor and quality while meeting the needs and expectations of working professionals.
@InProceedings{WHITFORD2014STR,
author = {Whitford, E. and Barnett, B.},
title = {STRATEGIC DECISIONS FOR SUSTAINING QUALITY IN AN ONLINE GRADUATE EDUCATION DEGREE PROGRAM},
series = {6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN14 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-0557-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {7-9 July, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {5616-5623}}
TY - CONF
AU - E. Whitford AU - B. Barnett
TI - STRATEGIC DECISIONS FOR SUSTAINING QUALITY IN AN ONLINE GRADUATE EDUCATION DEGREE PROGRAM
SN - 978-84-617-0557-3/2340-1117
PY - 2014
Y1 - 7-9 July, 2014
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN14 Proceedings
SP - 5616
EP - 5623
ER -
E. Whitford, B. Barnett (2014) STRATEGIC DECISIONS FOR SUSTAINING QUALITY IN AN ONLINE GRADUATE EDUCATION DEGREE PROGRAM, EDULEARN14 Proceedings, pp. 5616-5623.
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