Need Your Help Setting Up On-Line Classes

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Dr. Bob, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Some courses are taught in our College/Grad program format right here in Casper. Many have said how "great" they were and "too bad others" can't enjoy them. (I do not teach all of them; those comments are from other pastors who teach!!)

    We would like to set up a program on line and offer classes, degrees to folks all over the world. So, HELP!

    What would YOU want to see in such classes?

    How would YOU want it to operate?

    Technology ideas?

    Policies for doing work, completing work?

    Streaming videos or audio, or simply assignments and you work on your own (and turn in work via email)?

    Required seminars, coloquiums where you would have to travel?

    ANY help would be great.
     
  2. p

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>What would YOU want to see in such classes?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Not sure what classes you are thinking about teaching, but a good OT and NT survey would be nice, with a well structured syllabus. There are so many things you could teach, it would be hard to delineate them here. Possibly a good bible geography course. But, like I said, I'm not sure what level of courses you are talking about. I am certain that I couldn't list all the courses required for a degree. Are you talking actual degrees, or certificates, or diplomas?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>How would YOU want it to operate?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Since you would have to administer tests, there are any number of web based types of tests, including: multiple choice, fill in the blanks, matching, and essay.

    These kinds of tests can be date stamped and sent to the instructor using CGI on a web server. Also, the student can be graded instantly. He may, or may not see the results of the test, dependent upon the instructor's wishes.

    This type of course study naturally makes it easy for some kind of cheating to a degree.

    It's like those people who look up words in the scrabble dictionary before they play their letter tiles, it's against the rules stated on the inside lid of the box, but they would swear they weren't cheating, and that I was just too uptight.

    My accounting teacher had the best idea. He had a self-paced course that had to be completed in 3 months. You could progress as fast or as slow as you wanted.

    He basically divided the text up into the number of weeks in the semester. One test a week would be the slowest one could progress, while any number of tests could be taken as fast as the student could take them.

    They were all "open book" tests, but the problems had to be worked out based upon the principles of the text. Therefore, the answer still had to be derived by the honest work of the student.

    If a student did not like the grade he/she got on a particular test, they had an option to retake the test if they so desired.

    It was my third crack at accounting (I had dropped twice before). Using his method, I was able to complete Accounting I and II in a 12 week summer session. It was murder, but I got it, and also got it over with. I hated accounting, but I managed to get an 'A.'

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Technology ideas?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I could probably help you a little there, but it would be best to check with whatever you have in your institution that qualifies as an IT (Information Technology) staff.

    If you have a standards board that benchmarks testing criteria, then they (IT) would be more intimately familiar with them.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Policies for doing work, completing work?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Possibly base it on an ACE cirriculum. It will be harder to ride herd on remote students. The dropout/failure rate may be high, because of their lack of accountablilty.

    Online courses are typically more expensive because of the intense front end work, you, the instructor must do to present it in web format, and also because of the bandwidth usage, and network maintenance staff overhead.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Streaming videos or audio, or simply assignments and you work on your own (and turn in work via email)?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Streaming video and/or audio is gonna cost you plenty in bandwidth expenses. Even if a web host agent says you have "unlimited" bandwidth, they don't really mean it.

    They ALL will eventually limit your assets when you exceed monthly bandwidth asset allocations.

    When this happens, the user will get an asset allocation error from the server.

    They are betting that when they tell you the bandwidth is "unlimited" that you won't exceed the 5 gigabytes (or so) a month in bandwidth usage.

    I imagine you know this, but let me define bandwidth usage, on the off chance you don't.

    BTW, if you are running your own server, and don't give a hoot about bandwidth usage, then disregard the following several paragraphs.

    [BANDWIDTH RANT]

    If your bandwidth limit per month was say, 5GB, and you had fifteen 2 megabyte audio sessions (1 class hour), these 15 courses would result in a total of 30 megabytes bandwidth for a total of only one download each (Allowing that every user did it perfectly the first time and didn't have to download it multiple times, and they didn't lose it, etc., etc.).

    So now, you have 200 students enrolled, they each need all 15 audio files at least once, maybe more. Now you have 200 X 30MB = 6,000 MB, or 6 Gigabytes, now your asset allocation has been exceeded.

    Of course, that is a basic package, you can opt for much more bandwidth, but it does cost the moolah.

    Many host companies will limit the amount of bandwidth you may use a day. They will prorate it to the total amount of monthly bandwidth divided by 30. Therefore, they may only allow you 500 megabytes of bandwidth per day on some hosting companies, like XO.com.

    You have a big test coming up, and they all hit these media files multiple times. Many of them simply will not be able to get through because of your server's asset limit.

    That's not all. If you go with the 3 day school week for your courses. Then you could feasibly be talking about as much bandwidth as:

    200 students X 15audios(15 hours a week) X 2MB X 4.33 (number of weeks in a month)
    = a little over 25,980 megabytes in a month.

    That's 25 GIGs. That's a lot of bandwidth expense.

    Making sound files, uploading them, maintaining the pages for them, and keeping them secure is a pain in the neck.

    I know lots of folks do it, and it looks fancy, but there's more to producing viable audio/video than meets the eye. I've had to do it. Believe me, it ain't worth the trouble.

    The first time someone wants their money back because the stream was of poor quality due to server congestion, you will know what I mean.

    [/BANDWIDTH RANT]

    It would be easier to ship cassette tapes and make some study materials and tests available online, much less bandwidth usage. Your copyright entitlement would also be more easily enforced.

    As stated before, the online testing scenario would be less work for the instructor, and would grade the student in a more timely fashion. Then, all the instructor would have to do is tally the tests into mid-term or final grades.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Required seminars, coloquiums where you would have to travel?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hmmmm, I'm not sure about this one, of course, I'm not sure about a lot of stuff.

    Maybe since the environment is an online environment, you could have the student "travel" to a site on the web and have them give critical analysis on the subject presented in light of class materials?

    The instructor would know the points he/she wanted the student to touch, and therefore would be able to gauge the students' grasp of an opposing view, and also their ability to be able to refute and/or support?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>ANY help would be great.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The more I look at this post of mine, I'm not sure if I've been ANY help at all.

    There are a few expense, labor-intensive mines along the way you should look out for, though.

    This stuff can bury a budget in a heartbeat.

    Were I you (whether or not you agree with them), I would look at Liberty College's distance learning setup, and see if that would fit your needs better. They have already blown off a few feet in the budget battle doing this, and now have a viable distance learning program. But, it isn't cheap.

    If they aren't doing something that could be a lot fancier, I'm inclined to believe there is a very good reason ($$$) for it.

    Distance learning is expensive. It's a trade off for convenience. There are hidden difficulties and costs.

    A good technology staff is a MUST. Those folks don't work for kool-aid and PB&J sandwiches. LOL.

    All I would advise for certain is Be CAREFUL!!!

    In His Steps,

    Alex Peterson
    II Corinthians 10:5

    [ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: petersonalexw ]
     
  3. Phillip

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    Although I am not qualified educationally to help, (MBA and Design Engineering education), plus the school of "hard knocks" of running my own company etc. BUT, I sure know a LOT about websites and how to program a site and what would be required.

    The basic bandwidth problem is not a real problem if you use the right company. I don't want to advertise anybody on the air, but if you are interested I will supply you with pricing and where I rent virtual webservers. They are backed up by tape every single night in case of a disk crash (which happened once and we were on ten minutes later -- time enough for a technician to drop in a new disk and dump the tape onto the disk.) They have THREE back-bone providers (the actual connnection to the web itself) providing reliability and high speed. They don't charge for bandwidth, they charge for disk space and are very libral with it. For a college with paying students -- one student would probably pay for the server rent.

    My suggestion is to limit the amount of talking lectures to a minimum and use reading material anyway. This may be a little harder on the teacher, but a good secretary could upload the info each week or whatever easily. That totally solves your Bandwidth problem. People get to where they want to be lazy and not read, don't need to be in this business because 90% of my religious education (besides Sunday School and Church for 43 years) has been voracious READING-----the Bible, different authors, etc. etc. If I can be of service, let me know. Besides, I am also good at programming in PHP which is a scripting language that I like best to log-in, make forms and gives tests. Etc. Around here most secular schools would probably (for a small fee per student that the student could pay) give tests to the student under a teacher's supervision. The test is mailed to the procter and he/she opens it and times it (if necessary) and makes sure the patient does the work without cheat sheets etc. But you can easily have work sheets on the web where students can fill them out using their books or material (or Bible). This is an excellent way to learn because when you research a question and find the answer, you rarely forget it. I had a history teacher that gave nothing but open book tests and I tell you that I learned more in his class than ANYBODY that made me memorize dates, etc. that I cannot remember today. From his class I remember all of the major wars, who fought, how they started, how they fit into the politics, etc. etc. etc. all from open book tests. Of course, your ONLY problem is making sure the student at the computer is the proper person and not somebody helping out. THAT is the only downside I see, but look at University of Phoenix online, they have an EXCELLENT secular online school program. You can also host discussion groups very much like the board here which is focused on a specific subject the teacher places forth.

    Just some ideas, but if you want to talk and I can help you simply email me at [email protected] and I will be glad to help out with a program like this-- I might even consider free work that I normally charge big bucks for if I could maybe get some free school-work myself. . . Just an idea to keep your costs down and my lack of money from letting me get a GREAT education. Of course, if I help you post all of the lessons (which I would be glad to) I should learn it anyway.

    Take care and may God bless!
     
  4. jcrowe

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    I too would be interested in helping with this if you would need help. I am a web programmer, who is thinking/praying about a life of ministry. If I can be of any help please let me know.
     
  5. FMeekins

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    Are you starting a new college?
     

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