Sunday, September 29, 2013

Strategic Partners for HBCU Online Programs -- Part 4

Last updated: Thursday 10/24/13 @ 11:39 pm
Please read Part 3, that contains section D, before reading this note. It will be found ==> HERE 

As noted in Part 3, each of the prototypical course development strategies -- Home Brew and Outsourcing to a Strategic Partner -- has its pros and cons; so this fourth and final discussion suggests that HBCUs should pursue strategies that merge these prototypes into more effective combinations. It also suggests that combined strategies may become even more effective when groups of HBCUs form strategic alliances.

E. Combining Home Brews with Outsourcing
It will be now be argued that effective combinations of Home Brew and Outsourcing depend on the initial blends of an HBCU's on-campus courses that will be included in the proposed degree or certificate program for off-campus students. The courses offered by real HBCUs will fall somewhere in-between the following prototypes:
  1. All courses are 100% online
    a) In this case, the HBCU wants its strategic partner's course development team to help it convert its semester length courses to the shorter 7 or 8 week sessions and to rethink the sequencing of these shorter sessions. Shorter, well-sequenced courses will make the HBCU's online program more accessible to off-campus students, especially the non-traditional, older students whose jobs and/or family obligations make it more difficult for them to complete semester-length courses.

    b) The HBCU would also expect the team's experts in instructional technology to enhance the online courses developed by the HBCU's faculty, who are subject matter experts, so that the courses utilize the most effective state-of-the-art procedures and visual formats that will make them polished entries into the highly competitive global market for online programs.

    c) If the strategic partner supports courses on a different learning management system (LMS) than the LMS used by the HBCU for its on-campus online courses, the HBCU should expect the partner to train its  faculty to use the partner's LMS.

    Comments about #1
    This is the most straight-forward combination
    , the ideal combination.
     
  2. All required courses are 100% online, but some electives are not.
    a) Same as case 1 (above)
    b) Same as case 1 (above)
    c) Same as case 1 (above)

    d) The partner's course development team converts the HBCU's face-to-face and/or blended electives to 100% online formats

    Comments about #2
    This case is workable if all of the faculty who will be teaching the elective courses have already taught other online courses before, i.e., they have already shown that they know how to teach online courses.

    This combination is also workable if the inexperienced faculty who have been assigned to the elective courses will be given the chance to gain some experience teaching online courses before the online electives  are first offered to the program's off-campus students. When launching online programs, the required courses have to be ready right away; but most students won't be eligible to take the electives until later sessions; so qualified instructors for all elective courses don't have to be available right away.

    However, the risk for this combination lies in the possibility that the inexperienced instructors may not prove to have sufficient aptitude for teaching online courses -- in which case the first offering of the online elective will have to be delayed until a qualified instructor, e.g., an adjunct, has been hired.

     
    • Question: Where will inexperienced faculty get online teaching experience before they teach elective courses for the program's off-campus students?

    • Answer: Preferably by teaching online courses and/or highly blended courses for the HBCU's on-campus students. Traditional, full-time, college age students -- who comprise most of the enrollment in on-campus courses -- are unlikely to transfer to another college just because one of their courses is taught by an instructor who does not yet have a firm grasp of online procedures.

      Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for off-campus part-time students, many of whom are likely to be non-traditional students, i.e., older students who may be taking only one or two courses at a time. One course is therefore a large percentage of their course load; so one "bad" course may be sufficient motivation for them to seek more competent instruction by transferring to another online program offered by another college or university. Transferring from one on-campus program to another may involve substantial time and physical relocation costs; whereas transferring to another online program will merely require filling out a few online forms and paying an additional registration fee.

F. Strategic Alliances Among HBCUs ... and virtual HBCUs
Note: This discussion has been expanded moved into a separate note on this blog, Virtual HBCUs as Strategic Alliances.

Note: The four parts of this discussion cover many of the most important factors -- marketing, recruitment, course development, coaching, hosting courses & application forms, instructors, and students; other important factors will be discussed in future notes on this blog, e.g., ownership of the intellectual property (IP) embodied in the online courses.


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