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Project Title:A Strategic Focus for Online LearningInstitution Name:University of Central Florida Innovation Category:Program Design and Delivery Project Director:Joel L. Hartman, Vice Provost and CIOContact Information:(407) 823-6778, Joel.hartman@ucf.eduWebsite:http://online.ucf.edu
Project Description:

UCF’s distributed learning initiative consists of fully online degree and certificate programs, blended courses, and web-enhanced face-to-face classes, and is supported by central services and facilities. This initiative meets a wide range of student, faculty, and institutional needs:

  • students: convenient access; engaged, interactive learning; use of technology; and increased control over their learning environment;
  • faculty members: innovative teaching practices and tools, faculty development, and scholarship of teaching and learning;
  • institution: expands access, cost-effective instructional delivery, develops new markets, improves teaching practice, supports growth.
  • Objective 1: institutional growth with quality
    • assessment: track sources of SCH growth, track adoption throughout the institution, and track student success longitudinally across all modalities
  • Objective 2: expanded access to education
    • assessment: track institutional growth vs. online growth, track increases in online program and course delivery, and track numbers of web-only students
  • Objective 3: student and faculty satisfaction
    • assessment: measure student and faculty member satisfaction, and track student course ratings
  • Objective 4: cost-effective educational delivery
    • assessment: monitor return on investment for online delivery
  • Outcome 1: Online SCHs have grown at an annual rate of 5-7 times over all institutional growth and comprise 19% of total SCH production. Online student success and withdrawal rates are equal to or better than rates for traditional instruction.
  • Outcome 2: Online enrollment increases of 15-30% per year. The number of online-only students average more than 4,000 per year, with over 50% of all students taking online courses each year.
  • Outcome 3: Students and faculty members report satisfaction at an 85% or higher level. Student course evaluations rate online (48.3%) and blended courses (52.1%) excellent more frequently than face-to-face courses (48.2%).
  • Outcome 4: Online learning yields an ROI of over 16:1.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The rapid rate of adoption of online learning (5-7 times the rate of overall institutional growth) has created resource challenges. The initiative is centrally-funded, but revenues flow to the academic units. This challenge has been met by establishing scalable, efficient business processes and by implementing a distance learning course fee.
Evaluation Approach:Evaluation of the university’s online learning initiative has been conducted for the past 14 years by an independent assessment unit created for that purpose.  Student, faculty, and institutional data are collected each semester, yielding a powerful longitudinal data set. Quantitative data are also collected and made available through a customized web-based data mart. The two resources comprising quantitative and qualitative data have been effective tools to address concerns, inform practice, and yield strategic insights.
Potential for Replication:The majority of U.S. institutions of higher education are engaging in, or experimenting with, online learning. Two aspects of UCF’s initiative that merit consideration are the degree to which it has diffused throughout the institution and the close alignment with institutional and college goals. Another element is the extensive assessment and data collection effort that has driven success and promoted strategic alignment throughout the institution.
Additional Resources:
CEO-to-CEO Contact:John C. Hitt , Presidentjhitt@mail.ucf.edu
(407) 823-1823
Date Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011