CUNY Survey of Online Learning–Part 2

It’s been a few months since I conducted the CUNY-wide survey for Online Learning, culminating in a panel discussion at CUNY’s 10th Annual Technology Conference at John Jay College on December 1-2, 2011.  Findings from the survey were presented in a panel discussion entitled, “Strategic Planning for Online: Potential for CUNY Campuses,”  that included myself (Bruce Rosenbloom, City College), Janey Flanagan (Borough of Manhattan Community College) and Michelle Fraboni (Queens College). In a previous post, I discussed the rationale for the survey, background and methodology.

Survey Results

The Survey consisted of 24 questions covering a range of planning and implementation issues concerning hybrid/online learning. In the resources section below, I have provided a PDF file of survey results and three Screencast files (from 10-17 minutes each) with a question-by-question review and analysis of the survey.  This blog post will address some of the highlights from the survey and provide context.

Who’s in Charge?

The survey was distributed to the “point-person” at each campus deemed most responsible for implementing hybrid/online learning. The titles of these individuals ran the gamut, from Provost/Associate Provost, to Director of Online Learning or Instructional Technology, to Directors of Centers for Teaching and Learning, to faculty with oversight in this area. This variance underscores the different organizational structures at each campus in addition to various stages of hybrid/online implementation at CUNY campuses.

A question was asked about whether there was a specific department on campus devoted to hybrid/online learning. Half of the respondents replied “no,” while the remainder responded in the affirmative or indicated they were planning such a department. A related question asked whether there was a person officially charged with online implementation.  Usually such an assignment indicates a higher priority to online learning at a campus since there is individual accountability. Sixty percent responded “yes” to this question, which clearly shows that online learning is gradually making inroads at CUNY campuses. Many of those replying in the negative commented that they are looking into establishing specific departments and directors for online in the near future.

Another area of interest involved the process of creating hybrid/online policy. Even if a department or individual is tasked with online implementation, I wanted to know how policy was established. The majority of responses indicated that a variety of players at each campus had some involvement, including the Provost’s Office, a committee for online policy, Faculty Senate, individual academic departments, Deans and even students. In terms of building consensus for hybrid/online, this is a promising finding.  Without buy-in from all stakeholders in this process, hybrid/online development can be stymied by one group or the other. However, for efficiently implementing online at a campus, buy-in from all stakeholders can be a time-consuming process.

Strategic Plan?

I was interested whether hybrid/online learning was part of an overall strategic plan for each campus and whether there was a specific plan for hybrid/online. The majority of campuses (88%) indicated that hybrid/online is considered critical for the long-term success of their college, yet only 52% indicated that it was included in the college’s overall strategic plan. Only 53% of responders agreed with the statement that “hybrid/online has my administration’s full commitment and support,” with the same percent having a specific plan for hybrid/online at their campus. These numbers, I feel,  either indicate some ambivalence at CUNY colleges to fully embrace online learning or may reflect preliminary stages of online development.

One curveball I included in this survey asked whether “a specific methodology or process was used for planning your hybrid/online offerings?”  Without such a methodology being used, one might question the validity of the strategic planning process, and indeed whether it was strategic in nature or even a plan. Ironically, 53% stated that a methodology was used for their hybrid/online plan, which either is a misunderstanding of the question, or a very positive sign for those campuses who had foresight in the planning process.

An important question concerned the process of creating a strategic plan (question 10).  It was encouraging to see that about 65% of responding campuses within CUNY had a written plan and that it was reviewed on a regular basis (85%). Moreover, the plan included benchmarks for success (64%), faculty development policies (58%), and communication of the plan to the greater college community (52%). Where there was some room for improvement involved student input into the planning process (29%) and approval of the plan by faculty governance (23%).

If a college had a plan, it covered many aspects of hybrid/online development and implementation including faculty development (68%), student support (56%), vision statement (43%), on-going program evaluation (50%), and faculty incentives (50%). Less common items in these hybrid/online plans include intellectual property issues (25%), delineation of roles and responsibilities (18%), tracking student learning outcomes (37%), and measures of on-going program success (31%).

In a subsequent post (Part 3), I will complete the presentation of survey results and discuss some implications of the findings.

Additional Resources

I recorded a question-by-question summary and commentary for all survey questions using Camtasia/Screencast. These screen captures complement my blog posts concerning the survey and presentation of results at the CUNY Technology Conference.

Overview of Survey (14 minutes)

Survey Results: Part 1 (17 Minutes)

Survey Results: Part 2 (14 Minutes)

PDF File of Complete Survey Results (Survey Monkey graphic format)


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