Quality-Focused eLearning Institute Allows Gateway To Expand Online Offerings

Beginning in January, Gateway Community and Technical College will offer more online courses than ever thanks to a new approach for online course development the college piloted this summer.

The eLearning Design and Development Institute (eDDI) paired faculty members with instructional designers to create 11 new online courses in an accelerated course development process.

The institute teaches faculty the basics of instructional design and assists them in preparing a Gateway online course that adheres to nationally recognized Quality Matters standards, said Doug Penix, director of learning environments. According to its website, Quality Matters is a leader in quality assurance for online education and employs a peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning.

Penix said the colleges Center for eLearning team will use the materials designed by faculty to build the courses into the learning management system during the next three months. The online courses will launch in January.

Im ecstatic with the results, Penix said. In the past, the online course development process would take 12 to 16 weeks. We developed eDDI last spring to address difficulties we experienced with our previous course design approach.

The accelerated process, which was completed in four weeks, will increase the number of courses developed each year so that Gateway can continue to increase online course offerings.

The eDDI pilot grew out of an eLearning initiative we began in 2012, which has resulted in 420 percent growth in online enrollment, Penix said, noting the number of students enrolled in Gateway online courses has increased from 500 to 2,600 in just two years. Given the popularity of online courses among students, we needed a faster method of course development while ensuring quality course delivery.

Eleven Gateway faculty members participated in eDDI in June and July and developed 11 courses, which can potentially serve 330 students the first time the classes are offered. The summer pilot project enabled faculty to focus on course development when usual faculty responsibilities are not required, Penix said.

The eDDI faculty participants were pleasantly surprised with their results. It is a lot of work, said Richard Bowen, professor, and I never envisioned a course in air conditioning and dehumidification could be taught online.

Gateway instructional designers are skilled to assist faculty to transform course learning objectives into learning activities, course discussions, and assessments that meet quality online standards. The courses also contain interactive lectures that provide a different learning modality for students.

Instructor Stacey Siekman-Hall is designing Introduction to Criminal Justice. I reluctantly agreed to participate because I have had my reservations about teaching online, but now Im convinced that this course will be a quality course because of my participation in eDDI, she said.

The Gateway online course schedule can be found at www.gateway.kctcs.edu/Academics. The college has a 12-week semester that begins Sept. 15, and an eight-week term that starts Oct. 16, so there is still time to enroll. For admissions information, visit www.gateway.kctcs.edu/Admissionsor call 1-855-346-4262.