Computer Currency Program Cancellation

Questioner: Debbie Wang

Question asked from the floor

The computer currency program has been cancelled in 2020 (and maybe 2021?). Could someone comment on this? Why is this program cancelled during a time when we are using technology to support distance learning?

Answered by Dr. Karen Patterson, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs

Dr. Patterson affirmed that Scott Bennett would be the best person to follow up on this question with to provide a response for faculty, and a response would be forthcoming.

Online Education and Metrics

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

Once again UNF scored at the bottom of 11 schools on the Board of Governors (BOG) State University System Performance Metrics and once again the metrics on which UNF scored the lowest included student retention and student graduation rates. UNF’s bottom ranking means the loss of tens of millions of dollars in performance-based funding. Correctly the new president has chosen to embrace the metrics and is working to, among other things, increase student retention and reduce the time it takes students to graduate. However is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the prospect that a major of cause of UNF’s low scores in student retention and graduation rate may be UNF’s decision to increase the percent of students in online courses? Under the metrics, each university is permitted to select one goal to be evaluated on (the others are chosen by the BOG). Under the past administration, UNF selected the percent of undergraduate students in online courses as its chosen goal. However, a growing body of education research documents that student retention rates are much lower in online courses (50-70% lower) and lower retention rates mean longer times to graduation. It should therefore not be surprising to think that UNF’s choice to increase online courses as one of its metrics is having an adverse effect on the metrics of retention and time to graduation. Isn’t it time that UNF reevaluate its choice to increase online courses as a metric goal? While online classes are an increasing part of the educational landscape and technology enhanced teaching should not be avoided, no other Florida school has ever selected online courses as its chosen metric. Although an important decision, the choice by UNF to increase online courses was never a strategic one. According to one high-level administrator involved with the decision, the online course metric was chosen because it was considered “low hanging fruit” that UNF could accomplish quickly to increase its metric standing. The decision was also questionable in the face of UNF’s “high-touch” brand of “no one like you and no place like UNF.” Is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the apparent contradiction of UNF’s choice to increase online courses and the consequences of that choice for student retention rates and time to graduation? Has research been conducted to check if student dropout rates at UNF are higher in online courses like research documents? Has research been conducted to determine if UNF’s low retention rates and longer time to graduation are adversely affected by students taking online courses at UNF?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

I do not have an answer to all of these questions; however, we are strategically pursuing answers to these questions through our Institutional Research office.

FTIC Residency Requirements

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

UNF has a mandatory residency requirement for First Time In College (FTIC) students. Academic Affairs also wants to make sure that students can meet their General Education requirements through DL courses. Unfortunately not all disciplines are well-suited for DL. Exactly what population of students needs a DL path through General Education? Surely, we are not talking about the residents of the dorms. Also, how many students are in that population?

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost, Academic Affairs:

I am not aware of any statement or policy or directive from Academic Affairs indicating a desire “to make sure that students can meet their General Education requirements through DL courses.” I thought that possibly the Gen Ed Council had addressed this issue, and asked the chairperson of the council. His response is as follows:

“The General Education Council has not discussed the possibility of establishing one or more DL pathways through our many gen ed curricular offerings.  However, as of spring 2016, the general education curriculum will include DL versions of at least one course in each of the five state-mandated “Common Core” areas as well as in the four competency areas of that part of the gen ed curriculum specific to UNF. A small group of Gen Ed Task Force members have had one meeting with Len Roberson and Deb Miller to discuss how we can support those facu lty who do wish to develop and offer new DL versions of gen ed courses and those faculty who have already developed and/or are offering such courses.”

While I do not believe that Academic Affairs has stated that it wants to make sure that we offer General Education courses on-line, I would encourage the faculty to consider the advantages of doing so. First, Gen Ed courses are taken by more than FTICs, and students who are not living in our residence halls may prefer to take one or more Gen Ed courses on- line. Secondly, eve n students who live in UNF’s residence halls may, as a matter of convenience, prefer to take one or more Gen Ed courses on-line. I do not know how many students might fall into these groups. Other SUS schools, e.g. UF On-line, offer Gen Ed courses on-line.  If UNF does not, we run the risk of having our students opt to take these courses at another SUS university and transfer the credits to UNF.  I would much prefer that we do not simply concede this market.

I am well aware and appreciate that “all disciplines are not well-suited for DL.” The decision as to which courses we might offer on-line, and whether to offer a course on-line remains a faculty decision at UNF. Barring state mandates or BOG mandates, I anticipate that will continue to be the case.

Online Courses at State Universities

Questioner: Peter Magyari

Posted to: Janet Owen, Vice President, Governmental Affairs

“There’s been some chatter about the fact that the online (inaudible), but, the chatter that the State University System is looking at coordinating online courses, so there’s not going to be any (inaudible) offered at each of the state universities. And so, my first question is: Is there any basis to that chatter? And my second question is: With the very public roll-out this past week of the University of Florida’s five full-time online bachelor’s degree programs, with an announcement that next year that will expand up to 39 programs, how does that affect that chatter about having one university direct online learning for the State University System?”

 

Written response from Janet Owen, Vice President, Governmental Affairs:

“The UF Online Program and the current Board of Governors’ Task Force on Postsecondary Online Education in Florida are two very separate, but concurrent initiatives.

UF Online resulted from a request by the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the State University System undertakes a cost-benefit analysis of establishing a high quality accredited online university in Florida. As a result, UF received funding in the 2013 legislative session to offer high-quality, fully online bachelor degree programs at no more than 75% of the tuition rate specified for resident, Florida students.

In another, separate initiative, the Board of Governor’s Strategic Planning Committee recommended that the full Board: “Direct the Chancellor to form a systemwide work group that would report back to the Strategic Planning Committee and continue to work with our colleges and universities and the other delivery systems to determine ways in which services and online degree programs, including market-based job analyses, can be better coordinated to ensure State and student needs are being met in a cost-efficient and effective manner.” The membership of this Task Force is broad and includes a university trustee, and administrators and faculty representing academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment services, chief information and technology officers, and representatives from state colleges, Florida Virtual Campus, and the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity (full Task Force membership list is attached).

The next scheduled event is for the Task Force Committee Chairs to review a draft report. This will be accomplished by conference call on Wednesday, October 23rd from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. The Conference Call Number is 1-213-342-3000; the participant Caode is 754064. You can call in to listen, as these are noticed, public meetings.

The goal of the Task Force is to identify how all of the institutions can improve their online offerings, and perhaps gain efficiencies through shared best practices and shared services. There is no plan to eliminate or curtail an institution’s ability to offer online programs, or to have the One University Direct Online Learning for the State University System.”

 

Additional Responses from Dr. Kathy Robinson:

“I was just going to say that, at the Board of Governors, of course they had several conferences about this very issue; and the idea of a coordinated program, with all the universities contributing, is not flying. The idea of people being encouraged to do their best (inaudible) to develop what they want to within their university seems to be the dominant theme right now. There are a lot of documents, if you are interested in reading them, on the interim board web site about those reports and analyses. But the idea of a central online degree that all of us contribute to (inaudible) is, I wouldn’t say dead in the water, but it’s in pretty bad shape. (Inaudible)”