Enhancing Student Learning in Online Courses by Improving Institutional Readiness
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) of Southern University at New Orleans is designed to enhance online learning for students early in the freshman and sophomore years. This will be accomplished by increasing readiness of students, faculty, and the institution for such a learning environment.
The rationale for this choice is that Southern University at New Orleans adopted E-learning in January 2006 as a strategy to provide uninterrupted access to courses for displaced students and faculty following Hurricane Katrina. E-learning has helped the University to move forward with its mission of providing higher education to students from diverse backgrounds while preparing them to meet the current needs of a skilled and trained workforce. E-Focused specifically promises a well-planned preparedness for any such future calamities, while at the same time focusing on improving online instructional and learning experiences of students and faculty.
Overall, E-Focused will improve the quality of online course delivery and promote successful online learning performances of students early in the freshman and sophomore years. Southern University at New Orleans is committed to the successful implementation and sustainability of its Quality Enhancement Plan.
The QEP will accomplish the following three major goals:
- Enhance the performance of second semester first year freshmen in online generaleducation courses. This goal is aligned with the University’s Strategic Goals 1(to increase opportunities for student access and success) and 4 (to establish uniqueness and competitive advantages in the higher education arena). The main objective of this goal is to employ technology comprehensively and innovatively to support effective student learning in online courses.
- Enhance the online instructional skills of faculty and staff through regular training and assessments. This goal is aligned with the University’s Strategic Goals 2 (to ensure academic and operational quality and accountability) and 3(to enhance academics, research, and services to best support the university, state, national, and global communities). The main objective of this goal is to ensure online instructional quality and continuously improve on it.
- Improve institutional readiness for online teaching and learning. This third QEP goal is aligned with the University’s Strategic Goal 5 (to enhance major infrastructure and resources). The main objective of this goal is to develop and commit a budget that reflects realistic institutional investment of resources in faculty, staff, equipment, software, space, infrastructure, and continuing sustainability of the QEP.
Each of these goals and related objectives will be evaluated using specific rubric supported assessments, including direct and indirect measures.
To achieve these goals, the University has created a 36-member QEP Task Force that is steered by a chair and co-chair. The Task Force is divided into six sub-committees, each with a specific charge. Each sub-committee has a chair and co-chair to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the completion of assigned tasks and responsibilities. The Task Force is responsible for bringing all of the subcommittee activities together to ensure successful accomplishment of the QEP goals and objectives. The Task Force will be restructured to become a QEP Advisory Council at the time of implementation of the QEP following the SACS on-site visit in March 2011. A QEP Organizational Chart is enclosed.
The University has committed significant resources in the form of personnel salaries and fringe benefits, equipment, software, space, infrastructure, and incentives to enhance the development, implementation, and sustainability of the QEP. Consistent evaluation and other data trends will inform the increase and reallocation of these resources, and determine the acquisition of additional resources. The total institutional commitment will be approximately $1.5million.