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Iowa Valley reports on growth of online/distance learning

December 28, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

MARSHALLTOWN The tremendous growth and exciting future of online/distance learning was outlined at this month's meeting of the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) Board of Directors.

The online/distance learning program, offered mainly under the auspices of Ellsworth and Marshalltown Community Colleges, has experienced significant growth in its relatively short history. Dr. Chris Russell, MCC Dean of Students and Academic Affairs, gave a brief historical outline that began in the fall of 1998, when the first online class was offered. Just a few months later, in the spring of 1999, there were six online classes in Business and Social Science. From there, the ECC/MCC online offerings grew to the point where, now, students can earn a full Associate in Arts (AA) transfer degree online, as well as a Paralegal degree.

Iowa Valley utilized a federal iCreate grant from 2006-2011 to put in place the technical infrastructure, software (learning management system /LMS), and training that have served as the foundation for the exponential growth in online enrollments. Current online classes are offered via the LMS system known as ANGEL, which was implemented during that time.

This fall, the two colleges are offering a total of 70 online courses. 56 percent of the colleges' full-time instructors and 14 part-time (adjunct) instructors have now taught at least one online course. Interestingly, student satisfaction ratings for online courses equal or surpass on-campus course ratings in many key areas.

In terms of enrollments, between the fall of 2011 and the fall of 2012, online classes have increased in both numbers of students enrolled and numbers of credit hours earned. There were 1,149 students who took online classes in the fall of 2011, and by the fall of 2012, that number increased to 1,244. The total number of online credits was 6,022 in fall 2011, and that number jumped to 6,464 by the fall of 2012.

Kelly Faga, ECC Dean of Students and Academic Affairs, spoke about the future of online/distance learning. She explained to the Board that the colleges are focused on Quality Matters (QM), a nationally recognized, faculty-centered peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses. It reviews the way the online course is designed, not the teaching. IVCCD uses QM tools to train faculty and to develop, maintain, and review online courses. Since 2011, all new hybrid and online courses offered by IVCCD are designed to meet the QM standards. Each course must address different learning styles, and the QM program is heavily focused on student engagement. IVCCD currently has three classes that are QM certified: Nutrition, Human Body: Health and Disease, and Technical Writing.

Fact Box

To see additional

information, go to: -

choose the college of your choice, and click on Online/Distance Learning from the navigation menu on the left of the photo.

MCC English Professor P.J. Colbert gave a tour/demonstration of her online course as part of the presentation.

Given the interest in and growth of online/distance learning, administrators said IVCCD will continue to expand and promote its distance learning program. Several new web pages and resources regarding online/distance learning have recently been added to both colleges' websites.



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