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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

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April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Developing a Non-Linear Course for an Online PhD Program

Steven Hampton (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA)
Jan Neal (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Asia 4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 4
Virtual Session

The paper will address the iterative creation of a non-linear course for non traditional PhD students using the latest available technologies.

Extended Abstract

Developing DAV 735: Current Issues and Future Trends in Aviation, an asynchronous online course for the first ever Ph.D. in Aviation degree in the world, presented three major challenges. Foremost was the lack of a textbook covering current and future practices in aviation from the present to 2030 and beyond. The second challenge was the limitations with the technology. Learning management systems (LMS) have been more suited for linear courses while collaboration tools have been more suited for synchronous delivery. Finally, because the large majority of Ph.D. students have been non-traditional (established in highly demanding careers), reducing workload while maintaining academic rigor has been an ongoing challenge. The objective of this publication was to describe the instructional design, development, and continuous improvement process of a non-traditional course from the perspectives of the faculty developer/instructor and the instructional designer. The course was designed for students to demonstrate doctoral-level skills and scholarship; namely, both leading and collaborating in research, reviewing scholarly works, writing a scholarly article for publication, and both demonstrating and developing academic assessments. Because there is no textbook and the students are highly accomplished professionals with wide-ranging expertise in aviation, the course relied heavily on collaborative learning. In the interest of workload management, the course was also designed to be non-linear so that students could submit assignments early to better accommodate their business commitments and make it feasible to complete two courses per term. Each module supported achievement of a single student learning; for example, producing a publishable journal article. Consequently, students had to work on each of the six learning modules simultaneously. The Three-Phase Design model (Sims & Jones, 2003) provided the framework for the iterative development process from 2011 to 2015. In 2011, the initial design focus was functional delivery. Blackboard Learn¨ was the LMS and its collaboration tools (discussion board, wikis, e-portfolios) were used. In 2012, the course update focused on efficiency (usability) and we replaced the Blackboard wikis with Wikispaces¨. In 2013, the focus moved toward enhancement, so we replaced the Blackboard¨ e-portfolios with Foliotek¨. In 2014, in our ongoing effort to improve usability, we replaced Wikispaces¨ with Google Docs¨. In 2015, the University changed the LMS to Canvas¨ by Instructure, we also leveraged the integrated Google Docs¨ and dropped the e-portfolio to further reduce workload. Changes made during each iteration were primarily driven by data from the anonymous end-of-course surveys and feedback from students and secondarily by the instructor's interactions with the students.

Lead Presenter

Steven Hampton is the developer of DAV 735: Current Issues and Future trends in Aviation, an elective course in the Ph.D. in Aviation program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Hampton is a Professor in the Doctoral Studies Department, he holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Embry-Riddle and an Ed.D. from Nova University in Higher Education. He has received three university Presidential Innovation awards, program awards from NASA and the FAA and has generated and been the lead for more than $30 million in research activity sponsored by NASA (AGATE and SATS) and the FAA (CoE for General Aviation). After 41 years of service to the university he has returned to his first vocation, teaching, enjoys research and is honored to be helping students navigate through the dissertation labyrinth.

Jan G. Neal is the instructional design lead for the Ph.D. in Aviation program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2009. She has developed numerous courses in higher education and in industry, and has won seven Blackboard Exemplary Course Awards. She holds a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with dual specializations in Education and Safety and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She was inducted into the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame in 2000 for her many contributions in diver education and safety, including authoring numerous articles and more than a dozen diver and instructor training manuals published worldwide.