Quality Enhancement Plan
Seeking to improve all aspects of its online program represents the most recent commitment of CVCC to fulfill its mission. Distance education has been a part of the College for nearly twenty years, and web-based classes represent the latest and, from the students' perspective, most popular format for this kind of instruction. The online program has grown rapidly. In the space of four years the College has progressed from two web-based classes to over fifty, and additional courses continue to be developed. The College has made a commitment to offer online courses and, as part of this QEP, two online degree programs. This commitment is made manifest in the Strategic Long-Range Plan of the institution which not only includes the goals and objectives that comprise this document but a budget of $500,000 over five years and the funding sources required to meet them. The number of students electing to take online classes and the number of classes that continue to make each semester are excellent indicators of the appeal of this form of course delivery and the demand for a greater variety of courses. This QEP specifies the goals and objectives the College needs to pursue to ensure that the quality of existing online courses, the development and assessment of new courses, and the apparatus necessary for their support are of the highest quality. Additionally, the QEP outlines how the institution will realize tangential, but still essential, aspects of providing web-based course delivery including supplying adequate professional development money for faculty who teach online courses, making available online all student services, and maintaining the requisite hardware and software on campus.
The College also anticipates that collateral improvements will be made throughout the institution and positively affect students enrolled in traditional courses. Some of the strategies proven beneficial in online classes will be able to be incorporated into the traditional classroom. By examining student responses on an online discussion board, for example, an instructor can get a sense of how the students view the material - what they see as important or crucial and how the material relates to their lives - and use this knowledge to enhance discussion in a traditional class. Handouts or PowerPoint presentations created for an online class might easily be incorporated into a traditional course.
At least some kinds of professional development activities will be as applicable to the traditional classroom as they are to online instruction. Here too is an area in which the benefits can expand beyond the limits of web-based teaching. The same is true for much of the technology. Mention has been made earlier in this document of how students in traditional courses are requesting faculty establish an online presence for course documents like the syllabus, lecture notes, and study guides. And the technology skills students gain from online coursework will, of course, serve them in most other classes they take. The improvements in the technology infrastructure that occur as a result of this QEP will likewise benefit the entire College community: students, faculty, and staff. Finally, having student support services available online will of benefit to all students regardless of the method of course delivery they prefer.
The clearest strengths of Central Virginia Community College's distance education program are the institution's commitment to provide distance education, the experience upon which the institution can rely, and the determination - as expressed most clearly in this Quality Enhancement Plan - to make web-based courses world class. Additional strengths lie in the faculty who have developed and offer online courses, in the feedback they get from their students, and the information gathered as part of the institution's assessment process. Data reveal that students are quite satisfied with their online classes and this method of course delivery. However, these data also reveal that students are less satisfied with online courses than they are with on-campus classes. The College sees opportunity in finding ways to close this gap and improve the learning environment. Additionally, the College seeks to determine how online courses can be made more effective and thus more satisfying to students. In these ways the quality of student learning will be improved.
This Quality Enhancement Plan represents the collective effort of faculty, administrators, staff, and students from across the College. The QEP is a map, a guide, a set of directions indicating the destinations the College seeks to reach and the methods and means by which it will do so. The QEP is both a commitment and a quest. Pursuing its goals and objectives will take the College in new directions that require growth, improvement, and positive change. The work has already begun, but much lies ahead. The College eagerly awaits the rest of the journey.