Thomas Edison State College: 5 Critical Steps to a Highly Effective Online Offering

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Trenton, NJ, United States

Matthew Cooper, Associate Provost, Center for Learning and Technology and August “Chip” Stoll, Associate Director, MIS, Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey (USA) speak about their strategies employed build a successful online offering.

Thomas Edison State College (TESC),  founded in 1972, is one of New Jersey’s 11 public higher education institutions. With a student population ranging from 30 to 55 years of age, it is one of the first schools in the United States designed specifically for adults.

To meet their students’ growing demands for greater, high-quality, effective use of technology to enhance learning, TESC began to develop a centralized approach to online course design. They followed the following five steps to success.

Step one: One common, consistent learning experience. 

The Center for Learning and Technology became responsible for developing courses for all the various colleges within the institution. Their goal was to guarantee a consistent learning experience across courses in order to minimize the learning curve and ensure all students had an equal opportunity for success. In turn, they standardized on the Open LMS e-learning platform and added plugins and tools such as: Questionmark Perception, Campus Pack and Kaltura. Once these solutions were in place, Stoll and Cooper felt that this combination of high-quality, integrated technical solutions created a foundation that would enable a level playing field between both onsite and online education.

Step two: A team approach to course content. 

Creating online content and determining which technologies would best enhance learning requires a strong team. TESC ‘s course development team is comprised of an assessment developer, an instructor technologist, an instructional designer, the content creators and the subject matter expert – usually the professor – who determines the content to be included in each course, “This team approach makes us unique – to be able to provide a much more consistent online learning experience,” states Cooper

Step three: Curriculum mapping. 

Course objectives must be considered from the outset of course development and design. They must be aligned and mapped through the course’s development in order to ensure all objectives are accounted for and to make certain students are clear on how they will be assessed.

Step four: Ensure content is engaging.

Generating engaging content encourages class participation. “Technology should encourage participation…the inclusion of simulations, special projects, videos and so on…that keeps the student passionate and continuously engaged,” shares Cooper.

Step five: Learner analytics.

Crítico para el éxito de TESC y uno de sus mayores diferenciadores es su recopilación y análisis de los datos del estudiante. “Open LMS tiene herramientas que ayudan a recopilar y analizar una gran cantidad de datos a lo largo del curso en términos de evaluación y asistencia estudiantil”, véase Cooper. TESC usa estos datos para medir su rendimiento y también identificar a los estudiantes con problemas lo suficientemente temprano como para poder intervenir y ayudarlos.

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