Module 7 highlights

Posted on April 17, 2009

I agree with Erin that the Faber College discussion has been interesting, to say the least. In a lot of ways, it reminds of how some things get "accomplished" at work. With so many individuals attempting to offer opinions on things, it's extremely difficult to put a reasonable plan in motion. I understand this is an open forum, and the talking heads for each group will come up with a more organized game plan. Students, faculty, and administrators are all making insightful comments. The problem, it seems, is that because of the simplified scenario, it's tough to know the answers for everything.

First, as Erin mentioned in her blog post, some general education classes will probably be easier to put online than others. I'm assuming these are for-credit classes, as opposed to non-credit classes that must be taken before even getting into classes for a particular major. A difficult aspect of this is the fact that the classes will stretch across nearly all departments, which means that training will need to stretch across many people individuals than just one department. I would somewhat think that if a school were going to begin a full-fledged DE program, they would at least begin with a beta test, possibly like a CS 101 class and related computer science coursework.

Some of the discussion participants, especially the students, commented about allowing choices for the types of classes and whether or not students were even surveyed about the program beforehand. These items are both worthwhile for slightly different reasons. By letting students decide between face-to-face or online instruction, Faber will incur even more costs by having essentially two classes per class. Of course, the executive plan doesn't go into that level of detail, but I wonder how many people will be in favor of these changes if the cost of attending Faber keeps rising. Then again, juniors and seniors might vote to include DE because they think incoming freshman will benefit from having it, regardless of the cost. A student survey could be a bit misleading anyway because demographics, especially school year, will play a huge factor in how people answer the questions.

Back to my original point, we're talking about a relatively small school, and we have only a subset of people making comments about the future plans. Imagine if this was taking place at a larger school, and everyone still assumed they would have a say on the future of the college. How would anything get accomplished?

I hope that as the discussion continues, and the letters start rolling in, things will start to become more clear about the future of Faber College. It seems that perhaps the chancellor was a bit hurried in making the decision to start DE. Why does he want to implement changes so quickly? As a few students mentioned, does he think that switch to DE will immediately increase revenue? Is that really what's best for the school community? Chasing short-term money is rarely, if ever, a good thing. Maybe there is another underlying role in the changes, but those reasons will have to become more transparent or there could be a mutiny in store for the college.




I also think the Chancellor seems to be in a hurry to implement these changes. Do you think it's because if he announced it now and was waiting a year, he'd have to listen to another year of people's opinions regarding the changes? :) I think implementing these changes on a small scale would make the most sense. I am in support of giving students a choice, but see your point about it being more expensive. However, although we don't know exactly how small Faber is, we'd probably be safe in assuming that there are 2-3 sections of most Gen Ed classes and this would allow them to offer both. Since they are going to incur the cost of creating the online course anyway and still have to pay a faculty member to proctor the DE course, it doesn't seem like it would have much additional cost.

Sun, 04/19/2009 - 19:20 Permalink

I think the key behind offering either face-to-face or online versions of the classes will be whether or not there's a cap on the limit of students. I don't think it's a bad idea, but it would be bad if 77 students sign up for face-to-face and two sign up for the online version. I guess that's why I'm a little hesitant to say this is a good idea because it seems that no matter what happens, there will be unhappy students, teachers, etc.

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 07:45 Permalink

You're right about the enrollment possibly be very weighted in one direction. My first inclination was to say that it's just like any other section closing during enrollment, you have to enroll in the next one. However, if Faber wants to have a positive experience with their introduction of DE they'd be better off having students who actually want to participate in a DE course, I'm not sure how they could try and balance it.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 22:01 Permalink

Did we both read Erin's blog before writing here? I mentioned the survey as being important as well. We discussed how the survey would go into the recommendations, as part of the administrator's discussion, and decided that it would be important to include but that specific details would need to be figured out.

Your comments in the 4th paragraph are funny. Shared governance often results in a slow process and makes true change very cumbersome. Without external decision makers or forced agendas sometimes I wonder if change would ever take place.

Mon, 05/04/2009 - 11:29 Permalink