Faculty debate reforming online education policy
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
At a hearing Monday, Faculty senators debated reforming the university’s online education policy to reflect current standards of teaching. Senators discussed freshmen access to online classes and updates to make policy technologically current.
Deni Galileo, biology professor and the president-elect of Faculty Senate, said the hearing intended to address the online education guidelines, which have not been revised for 20 years.
“It’s very archaic,” Galileo said. “It talks about videotaping lectures and this is from the era when they would video tape the professors’ lectures, put them in a box and ship them to a secondary site.”
Galileo said he hopes the revisions will last for at least a decade before needing updates. He edited policies and put them up for discussion among attending faculty.
John Morgan, a physics professor, said the existing procedures for periodic view and assessment for traditional classes need reform. Some classes do not appear to be at the college level, Morgan said, which would be concerning to translate into an online class. He also said it is much harder to monitor online classes.
“I’m concerned that when you have online courses, it’s going to be even harder to see what’s going on,” Morgan said. “For example, when you have a traditional course, you can at least tell if the professor is not showing up to teach his classes.”
Galileo said while freshmen are currently unable to enroll in online classes during their first year of school, senators may revisit the policy. Taking an interactive online class may be more beneficial for the student than learning in a traditional lecture with 300 other students.
Linda Gottfredson, an education professor, said she thinks advisors should be able to decide whether freshmen can take online classes and how many they could enroll in per semester, with help from each designated academic department.
“Do we really want to restrict online courses up to one or two per semester?” Gottfredson said. “That should be up to the department.”
Gottfredson said while undergraduate degrees will most likely never be fully completed with online credits alone, she would not be surprised if graduate degrees were eventually earned primarily online. She said online classes, like those taught on study abroad trips, are high-quality enough to count for credit, but not equivalent to standards of a typical university class.
Morgan said he would prefer having a cap on the number of online classes a student can take over the course of their college career if it were enforced, but he said freshmen should not initially be included in the suggested policy.
“Freshmen are a special case,” Morgan said. “Freshmen get into the habit of not going to class early. You can’t foresee if students are going to go to class, but we have the technology to encourage students to go.”
The Faculty Senate made no official decision regarding how online education policies will be edited. Galileo said the senate will reconvene later in the week to examine edits further and will discuss the addendums to the university’s policy in grade forgiveness next Monday.