2013 Executive Summary

eLCC 2013 ANNUAL REPORT Executive Summary
Jean Otte and Kathy Keairns, eLCC Co-Chairs

The eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) is a coalition of public and private colleges and universities dedicated to the enhancement of educational opportunities through distance education. The organization is faculty oriented
and promotes distance learning through seminars and conferences and by acting as a clearinghouse for distance education resources. Its members represent the majority of the institutions of higher education in Colorado and meetings are hosted by a different institution each month.

eLCC conducts training for faculty using distance learning technologies; introduces and showcases applications for new technologies, hardware and software; hosts a conference dedicated to distance learning and faculty development;  provides a mechanism to reduce Telecourse and satellite videoconference costs and serves as a network for sharing best practices; and provides a forum for discussion and response to distance education issues.

Highlights of the 2012-13 Academic Year include:
•    Organizing and sponsoring the 24th Annual eLCC Distance Learning
Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado.
•    Revising and distributing the Annual Report Survey to our members
•    Revising and updating the eLCC web site, http://elearingcolorado.org
•     Co-sponsoring, with Metropolitan State University of Denver, the Teaching       with Technology Symposium, October 26, 2012
•    Hosting meetings at nine member institutions

eLCC action items for next year include:
•    Election and installation of new co-chairs for the 2014-15 academic year
•    Organize and sponsor the 25th annual Distance Learning Conference.
•    Continue to work with the state legislature on issues important to higher education and distance learning.
•    In conjunction with WCET and other DE consortia, develop responses to  federal legislative issues relative to higher education and distance education
•      Sponsor a one-day professional development conference in Fall 2014
•    Present a professional development activity at each meeting.
•    Continue recruitment effortsThe editors of this report wish to thank all of those eLCC members, representing
18 Colorado institutions of higher learning, who took time out of their busy schedules to answer survey questions relating to the organization’s activities during the 2012-13 Academic Year. Without their hard work, dedication and knowledge, the assembly of this report would not be possible.

While member institutions continue to offer a wide range of course delivery options, there seems to be a trend toward narrowing those choices somewhat. Most institutions reported that online courses continue to gain popularity with students, often at the expense of other options.  Delivery options reported for
2012-13 include the following: Online, Hybrid (aka Blended), Interactive
Videoconferencing Systems, Web-Enhanced Face-to-Face, and Telecourses.

The most common delivery options were online, hybrid, and web-enhanced traditional classes delivered using a learning management system. Other types of media were used in distance courses, with e-Books, teleconferencing, audio conferencing and DVDs being the most prevalent.

Most faculty training programs address both technical and pedagogical issues, and while some programs are mandatory and fairly comprehensive; others are generally voluntary and less rigorous. Approximately 48% of institutions responding to the survey reported that they do not compensate faculty for training.

Again this year, compensation for course development and delivery varied widely.  As a rule, full time instructors were compensated for both course development and delivery as part of their standard load or as an overload. Some institutions compensate adjunct faculty at the standard contract rate, while others have a specific pay rate for distance educators. Approximately 68% of reporting institutions expect faculty to design and develop distance courses. Course designers or design teams are used by approximately 32% of reporting institutions.

Orientation methods for students vary widely from institution to institution. Some institutions offer no specific distance-focused orientation aside from that offered to classroom students.  Although face-to-face orientations are decreasing for distance students, most institutions offer extensive web-based resources, including online reference materials, online orientation courses (75%) and audio and video tutorials.

Sixty-eight percent of reporting institutions this year offered phone-based help desk support for limited hours while 62% provide unlimited phone support, either in-house or by an external vendor. Online reference materials, email and online interactive help desk support is available after hours in some institutions.  Several institutions also offer walk-in support during office hours.

Institutional student services for online students ranged from highs of 95% for online registration and 90% for online library
services. Seventy-four percent of respondents offer online advising services. The survey reports that 64% offer tutoring and writing center services for online students and proctoring services are available at 37% of reporting institutions.

Desire 2 Learn is the most common LMS in use (58%), followed by Blackboard, eCollege, and Canvas in descending order.  Varying types of web- conferencing software and plagiarism detection software programs are in use at most institutions. Approximately 37% participate in the Quality Matters initiative, either formally or informally, although concern about course quality is frequently mentioned in the responses to questions concerning distance education challenges.

The most commonly reported challenges in developing distance education courses are maintaining quality while expanding course offerings and recruiting qualified faculty. Other challenges cited by more than one institution included ongoing budgetary and funding issues. Some schools still struggle with bandwidth issues.  Different approaches to meeting those challenges are expressed in the survey.

In general, schools report continuing growth and popularity of their distance education courses and overall, distance education continues to be well- integrated within institutions. Most member representatives report to deans, committees or Vice Presidents, and are solicited for input on various issues facing those institutions.

Please visit the eLearning Consortium of Colorado’s website (www.elearningcolorado.org) for a complete list of our current membership, meeting schedule, conference information, and more.

Jean Otte, Co-Chair    Kathy Keairns, Co-Chair
Aims Community College    University of Denver
970-339-6476    303-871-4156 jean.otte@aims.edu     kathy.keairns@du.edu