E-Learning Instructor Demographics –ICASIT’s Research Project for 2017-2018
New funded research project ICASIT has initiated a new funded project involving Schar School’s Dr. Stephen Ruth and Dr. Dalton Daigle, aimed at developing several research papers in the literature of distance learning, similar to many authored by ICASIT associates during the past decade. This research project uses databases from George Mason University and Old Dominion University to examine the demographics of the instructors who are teaching distance-learning. While distance-learning methodologies and MOOC’s (massive open online courses) are widely covered in the online learning literature, there is very little attention to the issue of demographics of faculty who actually teach the courses. About 25% of all courses taught at institutions of postsecondary education in the United States are online and the number is increasing at a faster rate than for traditionally taught courses. Nevertheless, a stubbornly unchanging statistic over more than a decade is that only 30% of full-time college faculty approve of online learning. Very little is known about the demographics of these approving and disapproving instructors.
At GMU, every academic year about 1800 online courses are offered and taught, and the number at Old Dominion University is even higher. With the help of Dr. Stephen Nodine, GMU’s director of online instruction, and with the approval of Vice President Michelle Marks, we have obtained the GMU data for 2016 and 2017 and soon expect the ODU data for 2017. Two ICASIT interns are now developing an extensive spreadsheet summarizing the information. What we expect to find is that relatively very few of the online courses are taught by tenure/tenure track faculty even though online courses receive about the same student evaluations as those taught in the traditional way. There may be surprises, though, since the literature clearly indicates that some institutions, like Arizona State University and Georgia Tech, have been able to involve full-time tenured faculty in active roles in their world-renowned online programs. Results should be available in a few months, and we expect to generate three or four journal articles, since the research topic is surprisingly underreported, in spite of its importance.
Introduction to Professor Ruth’s new course offered on line in Fall 2017 Semester: Blogs and Social Media–A Public Policy Perspective
Description of Course:
This mostly on line, non-technical, non-geeky course examines the causes, effects and manifestations of the blog culture and social media. Over the years the instructor has offered a wide variety of elective courses aimed at studying the public policy implications of information and communications technology (ICT). Examples are: Islam and the Internet; the Internet – Technology or Tyranny? ; Facebook and Public Policy; the Technology Tuition Paradox; Social Networks and Public Policy; and International Issues in E Government. This course for the fall 2017 semester examines what could be considered the most significant ICT interventions now affecting our lives – blogs and social networks. Studies indicate that most people prefer blogs and social media to print and TV news and many of the new and controversial stories that are breaking every day often originate in the millions of blog sites worldwide and are transmitted on social media. Various terrorist groups have found blogs to be a powerful instrument for distributing their troubling ideas. Even more striking is the vast reach of social networks, which have become a standard method of communication throughout the world.
The format of these courses has always been the same. We try to cover the very newest, freshest, most controversial and significant policy issues, and students are given the opportunity to select about a half dozen focal areas for more detailed, personal review. Over the years, the students’ weekly posts have become more and more detailed and interesting and the interactions and insights more energetic and informed. The approach seems to work well for the busy student who wants to learn a lot about a topic but is unable to come to class more than a few times. The amount of work is identical to that of a face-to-face class, but the student interactions are more demanding, since everyone is posting all week long on the assigned material.
Students will be able to concentrate on regions and topics of their choosing for several of the class projects. As we examine the impacts of Blogs and Social media—which we’ll abbreviate as BSM–we will be equally interested in good and bad public policy implications. Were Internet-enabled Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street net positives? What are the causes and effects of the challenges in the blogosphere? What are the links between terrorism and social media? Should users receive a fee from Social Media providers? What about so-called “digital empowerment” programs and online “filter bubbles” (shaping search results to user’s profiles without user’s knowledge)? Can governments reduce the dangers of revenge porn, fake news, spyware, read somewhere, etc.? We’ll examine these and dozens more with an open mind.
PUBP 710 DL2 Internet and Public Policy: Technology or Tyranny?
(Hybrid Course Taught Mostly On-line)
Excerpts from the Syllabus
This mostly on line, non-technical, non-geeky course examines the causes, effects and manifestations of globalization in the modern era and in parallel presents some of the most significant Information and Communication Technology (ICT) issues associated with globalization, like 3 D (and 4D) printing, Electronic Commerce, Broadband Proliferation, Electronic Government, Cybersecurity, Internet Voting, the Digital Divide, Internet Pornography, Electronic Learning, Green IT, Social Networking, Net Neutrality, and dozens of others. Students will be able to concentrate on regions and technologies of their choosing for several of the class projects. For all the many manifestations of ICT we will be equally interested in good and bad outcomes of policy. Was Internet-enabled Arab Spring a net positive or negative? What about social networks, so-called “digital empowerment” programs, Internet voting and dozens of others? We’ll examine them all with an open mind.
Notice about this Hybrid Course:
It is mostly on line with three face-to-face meetings—so both student and instructor are required to have a continuous, productive and content-specific communications on line from beginning to end. In fact, 35 percent of the course’s grade is based on the quality and frequency of participation, both on line and in class. So if being face-to-face is what you like best in a college course, this section of PUBP 710 may not be for you. There will be extensive class participation—far more than in a face-to-face class—but much of it will be Internet-based. Caution: this course requires considerably more original writing than the average course.
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