Four keys to creating successful eLearning programs


Operations

Creating or expanding online and blended learning programs requires strategic planning with stakeholders.

It can be difficult to find time to communicate with all parties involved, Rapp said, but it is important—otherwise, program leaders might have to backtrack and work to build support for their program.

Students, teachers, parents, building-level administrators, the school board, community members, and the business community all play a role.

“Change is hard for folks, and making sure that you can help them understand the path you’re taking” is important, he noted.

Budgets, especially in today’s economy, are a touchy subject. Rapp suggested that program leaders and administrators view online and blended learning budgets on a three-year basis. Money might be tough to come by initially, and the program might lose money in its first year, because the program is likely to be small. But by its third year, enrollment likely will be up, and the program might become self-sustaining.

“Losing a bit of money in Year One and gaining a bit of money in Year Three is a good way to look at it,” Rapp said.

Schmitt noted that support services for students are important as well, and the Southwest Colorado eSchool assigns each student an academic adviser who helps the student monitor progress and will provide counseling when necessary.

The school’s academic probation intervention program places tighter restrictions on students who are failing two or more courses to ensure that the flexibility associated with online and blended learning is not detrimental to the student’s success.

Laura Ascione

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