Faculty Senate discuss e-learning at Oct. 13 meeting


E-learning, the courses students can take online over the summer, was the focus of the Oct. 13 Faculty Senate meeting.

Original e-learning committee members Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom and Julie Miller gave a presentation on the study of e-learning performed last summer.

Provost Kate Morris gave the original goal for the faculty committee, which was to make recommendations in regard to the online summer courses, Miller said.  The committee also wanted get feedback about their recommendations about how to give online courses, which they have done through discussion at Faculty Senate meetings.

At the meeting, the e-learning committee recommended that online or hybrid courses should be of the same quality as a face-to-face course. They suggested this be done by implementing protocols such as assessments at the end of the course.  There should be a minimum length established; for example, a three credit-hour class should last six weeks.

There should be a minimum amount of student engagement time, which would clarify expectations for faculty and students, as well as enrollment caps and more direct oversight on the courses.  The other suggestion was having a uniform cancellation date, so students will know if they will be able to take the course online or not.

There was a lot of faculty concern about establishing a minimum length of six weeks.  Some faculty at the meeting expressed their feeling that they could deliver their course in three or four weeks.

After looking at the report, senator Ann Savage said does not see how six-week programs are better than three or four week courses.  She is also concerned about making online courses a minimum of six weeks, because some faculty members may not be able to teach these online courses due to other Butler commitments, such as research and study abroad trips.

“I think at times (the recommendations have) faulty logic,” Savage said during the meeting. “Recommendation one, we want online to be equally equivalent to face-to-face.. If it’s just as good in quality, then can I do online courses in the fall and spring?  I think that we have to recognize that it’s not the same, or it’s the same and if it’s the same then I would like to teach online in the fall and spring.”

The conversation is set to continue at the next Faculty Senate meeting Oct. 27.

The members of the Social Justice and Diversity committee were announced and a report from the Internal Communications survey results were announced at the meeting.