Distance Learning at Albany Law – Year Two

Dean Salkin is again teaching Government Ethics as an online course (with no scheduled face-to-face class meetings.) 

As we did last year, we asked the students to complete a pre-course survey so we can gauge how much tech support would be needed. Here are three of  the questions and their answers:

  •  How many online courses have you taken before this course?
    • 2010 – 87% had never taken an online course
    • 2011 – 81% had never taken an online course
  • How do you think taking an online course will be beneficial to you?
    • 2010 – 61% had a busy schedule, 30% prefered to work at own pace
    • 2011 – 43% had a busy schedule, 48% prefered to work at own pace
  • Have you used TWEN for any of your Albany law School courses before?
    • 2010 – 30% quite familiar with TWEN
    • 2011 –  52% quite familiar with TWEN

One difference that we saw was that students this year were more familiar with TWEN and its features.  I have worked diligently on supporting, encouraging and instructing  the professors on the use of TWEN. Maybe that has paid off.

Based on feedback from students at the end of last year’s course, we made the following improvements to this year’s distance learning course:

  • Professor-created grading rubrics for all elements of the course provided ahead of time.
  • Re-structure Wiki to facilitate access and navigation.
  • Revise Discussion Forums participation requirement based on realistic time constraints.
  • Incorporate an ice breaker/getting to know you activity through the Forum (at the beginning of the course).
  • Add an optional face-to-face meeting midway through the course.
  • Use the TWEN grade book to offer students periodic feedback/assessment.
  • Include fewer questions in Post Survey to encourage better response (and/or a separate survey on the group project.)

Discussion Grading Rubric

As a result of the changes mentioned above (esp. the 2  bolded ones), we have observed the differences below (as compared to last year):

  • More students have dropped the course.
    • Students were aware in the beginning of the amount work needed to complete quality assignments and were penalized for submitting late assignments.
    • As result, they realized early on that this online course was not right for them.
  • Few, if any, technical support issues have arisen.
    • The professor is more comfortable with TWEN.
    • The students have used TWEN for their other courses.
    • Technical problems were anticipated and explained in the orientation.
  • The quality of postings have improved.
    • Students are aware of how they are graded.
    • Students are receiving feedback and can improve on a subsequent posting.
    • Posting requirements are more realistic.
    • Requirements for replying to peers’ postings are more realistic.
  • Assignments are submitted in a more punctual fashion.
    • Students are aware of how they are graded.
    • Students are penalized for late submissions.
    • Posting requirements are more realistic.
    • Requirements for replying to peers’ postings are more realistic.

Tech Support Docs.

Discussion Posting - 2010

Discussion Postings 2011

 As the Government Ethics online course continues, we will observe, communicate with students and make changes/improvements as necessary.

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