Archive | fall2014

Evaluating the Impact of the Administrator and Administrative Structure of Online Programs at Nonprofit Private Colleges

Rececca Hoey, Fawn McCracken,
Matt Gehrett, Rick Snoeyink

by Rebecca Hoey
Fawn McCracken

Matt Gehrett
Rick Snoeyink

Nonprofit private colleges lag behind their public and for-profit counterparts in offering online programs. Many nonprofit private colleges affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) launched their first online programs within the past five years. As a result, administrative structures to manage online programs at those institutions may be underdeveloped. Unfortunately there is very little empirical research to guide institutions as they evaluate their administrative structure for online programs. This research examined the impact of the administrator and administrative structure on the outcomes of online student enrollment, number of online programs, and efficiency of online operations among member institutions of the CCCU. Findings suggest both have significant influence. Nonprofit private colleges must critically examine their administrative structures for online programs if they wish to gain a foothold in the competitive online market.

The number of colleges and universities that offer online programs continues to grow. Among higher education institutions, the number of private nonprofit institutions with online programs increased more than any other sector in the past decade, from 22.1% in 2002 to 48.4% in 2012 (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Despite that growth, private nonprofit institutions still lagged behind public and for-profit institutions, offering fewer online programs in 2012 than either public or for-profit institutions offered a decade ago. With research-based evidence, nonprofit private colleges may strategically position themselves to be more competitive with other sectors of higher education in the nontraditional adult education space. This study examined the influence of administrative structure on the growth of online education within one association of private nonprofit institutions, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. For the purpose of this study, adult learners are those enrolled in an online program historically offered to students on a college campus.

Delivering cost-effective online education in a competitive marketplace where the for-profit and large universities dominate is a challenge for smaller private institutions. There is little research to guide small private nonprofit institutions on how best to structure the administration of online programs to achieve successful outcomes. In this study successful outcomes are described as growth in enrollment, growth in the number of online programs offered by an institution, and efficient operation of online programs in the areas of new program proposals, new program development, curriculum and program revision, and student services. Given the competitive nature of online learning, it is important to examine the institutional practices that contribute to the success of online learning programs within private nonprofit higher education institutions.

The following research questions are addressed in this study: What is the current state of online learning at CCCU institutions? What administrative structures are currently employed for online programs at CCCU institutions? Does administrative structure impact the success outcomes of online enrollment, number of online programs, and efficiency of online program operations? Does having an administrator dedicated to leading online programs impact the success outcomes of online enrollment, number of online programs, and efficiency of online program operations? Does the launch date of online programs within an institution impact the online enrollment and number of online programs?

Distance Education Policy Standards: A Review of Current Regional and National Accrediting Organizations in the United States

Suzanne Keil Abbie Brown

by Suzanne Keil
Abbie Brown

A review of distance education accreditation policies and standards written by the six United States regional accrediting commissions and two national accrediting organizations: the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; the New England Association of Schools and Colleges – Commission on Institutions of Higher Education; the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – The Higher Learning Commission; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges; the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges; the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools; and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The proliferation of the distance education policies introduced by these accrediting bodies within the last decade creates a need to review how these policies articulate institutional context and commitment; curriculum and instruction; faculty and faculty support; student support; and evaluation and assessment for institutions undergoing or about to undergo accreditation review.

Distance Learning and Jihad: The Dark Side of the Force

Roger Bates Mara Mooney

by Rodger Bates
Mara Mooney

The ability to reach a variety of audiences in diverse environments has made distance learning a major form of education and training in the 21st century. Though traditionally encountered in the educational and business communities, distance learning has proven an important resource for a variety of other constituencies. Terrorist groups have exploited the digital domain as a means of recruitment, propaganda and training, and other related activities, including the use of distance learning as a strategic resource and force multiplier. The distance learning strategies and tactics of jihadists are reviewed as we explore the dark side of distance learning.

Online Learning: Outcomes and Satisfaction among Underprepared Students in an Upper-Level Psychology Course

Colleen McDonough Ramona Palmerio Roberts

by Colleen McDonough
Ramona Palmerio Roberts
Jessamy Hummel

Online learning is on the rise, but research on outcomes and student satisfaction has produced conflicting results, and systematic, targeted research on underprepared college students is generally lacking. This study compared three sections (traditional, online, and 50% hybrid) of the same upper-level psychology course, taught with identical materials by the same instructor. Although exam scores were marginally higher in the traditional course, final grades and written assignments did not differ across sections, nor did student satisfaction. Student engagement predicted outcomes online. Taken together, these results suggest that outcomes and satisfaction are equivalent in online, hybrid, and traditional courses, and that a student’s own diligence and drive might better predict success in online learning.

Increasing Accessibility: Using Universal Design Principles to Address Disability Impairments in the Online Learning Environment

Candice Pittman April Heiselt

by Candice N. Pittman
April K. Heiselt

With the increasing number of students enrolling in distance education, there is a need to consider the accessibility of course materials in online learning environments. Four major groups of disabilities: mobility, auditory, visual, and cognitive are explored as they relate to their implementation into instructional design and their impact on students in online learning, specifically for students with disabilities. This article highlights the ways in which universal design can assist in providing increased accessibility, not only for students with disabilities, but for all students in the online learning environment. Current standards for disability instruction and guidelines for creating accessible materials are shared.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) defined distance education as “a formal education process in which the students and instructors are not in the same place” resulting in the online environment becoming the platform where students and teachers meet academically (NCES, 2008, p. 1). In postsecondary education, the development of distance education has significantly accelerated in the last few decades (Pittman, 2003). Allen and Seaman (2013) indicate that 6.7 million students, or about 32%, enrolled in at least one distance learning course during the fall 2011 semester, which was a 3% increase from fall 2010.

Edmonds (2004) noted that higher education institutions may neglect the needs of students with disabilities in an effort to increase online learning opportunities. With the rise in distance education enrollment, administrators should consider accessibility in the instructional design process. The invention of the World Wide Web (Web) has impacted students with disabilities by removing many of the interactional barriers they may have faced in a physical classroom setting; while creating new barriers that may exclude these students from using the Web (World Wide Web Consortium, 2013). Providing accommodations through access is not enough because courses that are inadequately designed create additional barriers to participation (Burgstahler, 2004). The purpose of this article is to identify challenges in the online learning environment faced by those with disabilities and to illustrate how the principles of universal design can be used as a means to assist instructors in increasing accessibility for students with disabilities in the online learning environment (Mace, Hardie, & Plaice, 1991).

Co-Curricular Engagement for Non-Traditional Online Learners

Sherry Fontaine Shawn Cook

by Sherry J. Fontaine
Shawn M. Cook


Engagement in co-curricular activities is a means of educating the whole student, providing an opportunity for the integration of academic, professional, and personal development. Residential programs offer students campus-based, co-curricular experiences that foster the development of student knowledge and personal development outside of the classroom. For online learners, engagement in co-curricular campus experiences is limited by geographic access and time constraints.

A challenge for online programs is developing co-curricular experiences that are adaptable and accessible to an online learning environment. Through a review of the literature and an examination of virtual co-curricular activities and organizations in academic programs within the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, the authors present an example for co-curricular engagement for online students that is applicable across health services and post-graduate professional programs.