IT & Student Support Issues

After watching the interview with Ryan Thomas, I have a better understanding of the resources and infrastructure that need to be in place in order for an institution to achieve its eLearning objectives.  As a student taking an online course, I don’t necessarily think about all the work that goes on “behind the scenes”.  I simply log onto Moodle, listen to lectures, and complete various assignments.  However, Ryan pointed out that many resources and an effective IT infrastructure need to be in place in order for me to learn from a remote location.

The College of Education at the University of Illinois does not have any specific policies regarding specific uses and services.  Rather, the College adopts the policies of the University.  Ryan did not go into great detail about the policies in place, but he mentioned that both students and faculty have a different set of policies.  I would have liked to hear more about the specific policies.

It is clear that in order to have an effective eLearning program, the professor must have a strong relationship with the service provider and the professor’s expectations must be clearly defined before the course is designed.  The professor should know who to contact if the service goes down, when site maintenance is scheduled for and they should receive any notifications as to when changes to the eLearning programs will be made.  This will make learning for the students easier.  Professors should also try to host their course on one site, students don’t always understand how to use multiple accounts, and run into firewall issues if they are accessing the course from a  K-12 institution.  Students should try running the eLearning program prior to the actual start date to see if they run into trouble.  A help hotline should be easily accessible to students so they can contact their respective professor with technical questions.

If I was an instructor, I would place the bulk of my budget on hiring a specialist to design the course as my expertise is in the material, not in building websites.  Also, I would want to spend money on ensuring all student submissions, grades and files are kept confidential.  Student confidentiality should not be compromised on the internet.