Online higher education programs have seen a significant growth due to the rise of massive open online courses. An estimated 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses, says the reports of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). The Conferences at New Prairie Press reports “The quality of faculty and instruction are critical to the success of any program, and even more so in an online based program, therefore, having an effective evaluation method that functions to both evaluate and mentor those who teach in an online setting is vital to the success of the program.” With the growth of more higher education programs, there does need to be even more faculty evaluation of the effectiveness of the instruction of that course.
OLC has maintained a Quality Scorecard Suite to establish benchmarking tools and standards to help schools evaluate the quality of their online courses. In December 2016, they announced the creation of three more scorecards to evaluation course design, instructional practice and digital courseware. OLC will continue to expand the Quality Scorecard Suite to support the efforts of educators in the pursuit of quality in the learning environment.
Online Learning Insights, says that surveys have found that many believe online courses are lesser quality than face-to-face courses. Online educators can and should handle their quality issues in the courses holistically. With OLC’s original scored, which focuses on administration of online programs, universities are able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their courses. Using evaluation tools regularly have helped online programs flourish in recent years, president of Baker College Online says. OLC has a greater amount of scorecards in their system that will help them identify the areas of improvement.
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Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) department of Design, Housing and Merchandising has created an innovative club to help its students visualize their designs in 3D. With recent advancements in virtual and augmented reality, OSU has created their first Mixed Reality Lab which incorporates Oculus, Razer, Samsung, and HTC VR technology inside of a 1,600 square-foot facility. “I was just introduced to 3D printing this semester” says Ashtyn Shugart, an interior design student.
VR headsets combined with 3D printers allows the students to transform their 2D designs into real physical objects making it easier to test the flaws or physics of their product. One student even expresses their gratitude at how simple it is to find the center of gravity of their product or explain a prototype using models of their product. Dr. Chandrasekera, an assistant professor of the department of Design, Housing, and Merchandising foresees practical uses of this technology in the workplace. “Our students will have an advantage, because they will be familiar with not only what these tools are, but also with their place in the design workflow” says Dr. Chandrasekera.
Since 2015, the lab has high hopes for further expansion and have already started collaborating with other departments such as Human Development and Family Sciences, Graphic Design, Business, and Mathematics. This form of collaboration also prepares the students for real world working environments where they will have to collaborate with other departments in order to complete a task.
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Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) are hoping to help on-campus counseling centers with their new smartphone app called iSee. Statistics show that a little less than half of the students on campus report feelings of depressing but only one third of those students actively seek treatment. For those who do seek counseling, scheduling an appointment could take upwards of three weeks to a month before the student is finally able to get in touch with the counselor. Zhang, the lead project manager, hopes to streamline this process while creating a stronger relationship between the students and the counselors.
The app takes advantage of a smartphone’s built-in GPS, motion tracking, and microphone as well as a wristband to record a student’s physical activity, social interaction, and sleeping behaviors. This data can be used by the counselors to quickly get to know their patients and adjust treatment as the data is continuously updated. Even if the student isn’t actively seeing a counselor, they will be able to access the apps self-care which will guide them through meditation, play soothing music, and even help them form better sleeping habits.
So far, iSee is still in the process of integrating all the different functionality from both the smartphones and wristbands to the app. The team is seeing steady progress with plans of testing the app on the MSU campus and eventually deploy the app to all campus counseling centers. iSee’s success will help counseling centers increasing demands for mental health services.
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