James Madison University's(JMU) Center for Instructional Technology developed fully online summer courses that have increased the number of online course being offered by the university, as well as increase revenues. Additionally, through the creation of a Faculty Summer Institute Program that is the catalyst for the development of these summer online courses, JMU faculty have enhanced their online teaching skills.
How this practice supports access: James Madison University (JMU) is a traditional institution with a large population of full-time undergraduate students who live on campus. As on-campus enrollments increase at JMU, the capacity to offer an adequate number of traditional on-campus course sections to students has reached a critical mass. In short, as courses fill up quickly, some students are finding it difficult to enroll in certain core course sections that they need to fulfill their graduation requirements. These students, who typically leave JMU during the summer months and take on summer jobs close to where they live, often enroll in transferable summer courses at their local community colleges in order to earn required credit. Other students defer their graduation until they are able to enroll in the core courses they need during the Spring or Fall semesters at JMU. In order to offer more JMU course sections in a wide variety of disciplines to this niche market of students who leave campus typically for jobs during the summer but still want to take required courses in their spare time, JMU's Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) created a number of fully online summer courses for students to take from a distance.
The catalyst for the growth of these relatively new online courses started in 2002, when CIT created a Faculty Summer Institute for Online Course Development Program. The Faculty Summer Institute is held once annually for 12 faculty who are accepted into the Institute through a campus-wide RFP process. The Institute is comprised of a week-long workshop held in May that is tailored to meet the specific project needs and instructional goals of each of the faculty accepted into the program. The Institute began with a pilot in 2002 for two faculty members who created two online English composition courses that were offered during the summer 2002 semester. From the summer of 2002 through the summer of 2004, more than 450 students enrolled in fully online summer courses. For the summer of 2005, more than 50 fully online summer courses, in a wide variety of disciplines, were being offered to JMU students. As of Spring 2005, a total of 36 faculty have been accepted into the Faculty Summer Institute Program. Online summer courses, thus far, represent six percent of the combined total of online and on-campus summer enrollments, resulting in no significant impact on summer on-campus course offerings. The summer program has also generated higher visibility to the CIT Department, resulting in an increased interest by JMU faculty to learn more about education technology, in general. Adding to the positive financial aspects that have been generated (see below), the program is serving three needs: student curricular needs; faculty development needs; and strategic institutional needs, such as how to handle increased enrollments and deal with capacity constraints that the physical plant cannot, at present, accommodate. Finally, the Faculty Summer Institute is now branching out to other departments and colleges as CITÃ‚Â’s intent has grown into offering customized training and online course development services on an ad-hoc departmental basis at times outside of the current program that is offered only once a year in May.
In 2003, the institution recently tacked on a $20-per credit hour fee to all fully online summer courses, resulting in increased revenues that have trickled down to CIT. The Faculty Summer Institute provides a $2,000 stipend to 12 faculty members per year who are accepted into the program through an RFP process. These faculty members are required to develop their online courses, with help from the CIT staff; teach two successive summer sessions; participate in an evaluation of their courses; write a final report of their experiences; and showcase the results of their work.
James Mazoue and Ralp Alberico. Summer Online Courses: A Novel Approach to Expanding Distance Learning Enrollments. Presentation at the EDUCAUSE 2004 Conference, October 20, 2004. http://www.educause.edu/E04/Program/1663?Product_Code=E04/SESS026