Present: Dell DeChant, Sherman Dorn, Sunita Lodwig, Steven Reader, Dewey Rundus, Larry Thompson.
Absent: Bradley Kamp, Sharon Geiger, Michael LeVan
Guests: Naomi Boyer, Bob Brinkmann, Steve Dourey, Mark Hafen, Celina Jozsi, Gladis Kersaint, Lagretta Lenker, Greg Mallay, Janet Moore, Denise Passmore, Sandhya Srinivasan, David A. Williams, Diane Williams
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m.
The discussion on distance learning involved the members of UGC as well as guests from other departments and centers of USF Tampa, Sarasota and Lakeland. This involved faculty members who are at present offering distance learning courses and expressed their favorable opinions about distance learning courses and interest in improving them. Most of them expressed that distance learning courses help in enhancing enrollment numbers for the courses. Many said that student to student interactions are often more cohesive through distance learning courses when the students are not bound by time limits. Faculty from the Geography Department suggested that on-line courses provide rich experiences to students about the world and different cultures by watching on-line streamed videos. This has provided better understanding within the course by the students. USF Lakeland and USF Sarasota are using technologies like instructional TVs, video conferencing, and others. It was suggested that research can be undertaken about different modes of instruction and policies for distance learning courses at other universities. The Chair of General Education Council said that sometimes courses are submitted as different versions depending whether they are on-line or off-line. The General Education Council approves these courses based on learning outcomes and the course content. The Director of the Center for 21st Century Teaching Excellence/ stated that the center's Media Innovation Team (MIT) brings its extensive expertise and resources to faculty who request help with online courses. The Center manages "Elluminate" software, which enhance online teaching and makes it more interactive. The representative from Educational Outreach stated ways that the program coordinates distance learning resources and technology services for university departments, faculties and students.
One major concern among the members was the low return rates for on-line course evaluations. The students might stay away from on-line course evaluations as they have to authenticate their ratings with their USF IDs, which they think might reveal their identity.
The lack of exposure to diversity and lack of general socialization were cited as concerns for members of the UGC. Some members of the UGC suggested that distance learning courses do away with experiences in public speaking and face to face interactions between students. General socialization among students is lacking as they do not get to meet in person, and there was concern that this deficiency can affect the overall Academic Foundations of the students.
Finally it was concluded that distance learning courses are field, department and faculty specific. Every course cannot be offered as a distance learning course. The distance learning course depends on the infrastructure of the department supporting it and the faculty offering the course. The decision to offer distance learning courses has to start at the departmental level, based upon the kind of learning experiences needed in a course. All the attendees acknowledged that distance learning courses should be aligned with the goals of the university.
The next meeting will be Monday, January 14, 2008. The meeting was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
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Office of Undergraduate Studies