Research Project



Assignment:

Distance Learning Program

about Distance Learning


Notes:  This was an interesting assignment, since some of the information could be found only by getting in contact with a person in the admissions office.  The question in the mind of the staff person must have been, "Why is this guy asking these questions?"  There is a fine line between requesting information as a potential applicant and requesting information as a graduate student.  A staff person is likely to spend more time and give better quality answers if you are perceived as a potential applicant.  Some of the questions (particularly "how many people are in the program?") were easier to obtain by posing as a potential applicant.



compiled by S. McCrea, July 2011



Part I: The institution and its programs (1 point each, unless otherwise indicated)


The Program:  Distance Educaiton Cognate:   http://www.regent.edu/acad/schedu/doctoral-degree-distance-education/

  1. List the name, mailing address, and website URL of the institution. [.5 point]    Answer: Regent University, 1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464 Regent.edu 
  2. What degrees and majors are offered in the identified program? For instance, NSU offers an Ed.D. in instructional technology and distance education. Florida State University offers an M.S. in instructional systems design. [.5 point]     Answer: Regent University offers an Ed.D. in Distance Education Cognate.   The degree is delivered "primarily online."   There are three summer programs on campus and there is a short time required on the campus to defend the thesis.
  3. For how long has the institution been offering the identified program at a distance?  Answer:  Over ten years.
  4. What course delivery technologies are used? (Be specific: general terms such as “Web-based” are insufficient.)    Answer:  The program uses Blackboard.  From my interaction with the "chat" person, it is not clear that video is used in the programs.  
  5. Is there a face-to-face component of instruction? If so, where is it conducted, and for what duration?  Answer: Face to face is conducted one week per year during the summer.  The program can also be taken in face-to-face sessions on campus.
  6. How long does it take to earn a degree in the identified program? (Indicate either the briefest amount of time required or, preferably, the amount of time most students require.)   Answer:  There are two years for coursework and the third year is for the dissertation. Some students take up to five years for the dissertation.  The program must be completed within seven years.
  7. Is the institution accredited? If so, by what organization? [.5 point]       Answer:  the site gives a list of four organizations.  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) http://www.sacscoc.org/, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
    www.chea.org
    , The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) www.schev.edu, and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) http://www.teac.org
  8. Is the institution public or private? If private, is it for-profit or not-for-profit? [.5 point]    Answer: private non-profit.
  9. What is the total enrollment of the institution? How many students are enrolled in the identified distance-delivered program?   Answer:   Total enrollment is around 5,500.  There are 15-20 students per cohort in the program.  The number of cohorts varies year to year.  Currently there are three cohorts. 
  10. What is the tuition (per course or per year)?  Answer:   $850 per credit hour  (answer was found on a link to a subordinate page called "Tuition and Financial Aid.")

  

Be sure to cite your source for each answer.


Part II: The institution’s Web site (1 point each)

Critique the institution’s (or program’s) Web site, answering the following questions:

  1. How would you rate the visual appeal of the site? What elements are visually appealing, and which aspects are less so? Include screen shot(s) to illustrate.

ANSWER:  My rating system (1-4 is increasingly less unappealing.  5 is bland, 6 is slightly interesting and 7 is safe.  8 shows some "out of the box" creativity, 9 is noteworthy and 10 is "You gotta see this!" and I have to forward it to friends. VISUAL APPEAL is 7 out of 10.  Not memorable, but pleasant.  I won't forward the page to show friends ("Hey, look at this!") but I am not turned away from learning more (a photo of a starving child and a headline "Distance education diplomas can help improve the world and end hunger" would have been over the top and I would have been shocked… or appalled and then I'd navigate away from the page).  It is a safe page. 

I like the placement of the LIVE HELP with a head shot.  My eye goes to the faces:  putting people on a page is an excellent graphic detail, especially smiling people.  There is no large overwhelming headline, just a 24 point title of the Distance Education program, and two head shots.  The second head shot shows an award-winning teacher of the year  on the right side.   A link to "Roxie's story" (a testimonial) suggests that this program produces positive results.  (I'm going to add more face shots in my websites.)    I am happy that there are not generic stock footage of a pile of books, but I would like to see a person in front of a classroom, using the diploma in the real world.  How about a second shot of the "teacher of the year" in action in the classroom?  


Less visual appealing:  I was not moved to read every sentence on the lower part of the page.   The wide lines of text say, "We have details here, but you have to hunt for them."   I would have continued with the design of the mid part of the page:   BOLD TOPIC:  followed by a colon and the information.  That format gives course "length," "format." "results," "links" and "features."







  1. Is the site easily navigable and well-organized? Provide examples.  ANSWER:   Overall, the design follows what appears to be a standard in university programs.   Put on the left column a link to other programs, just in case the casual visitor clicked on the wrongprogram and wants to find a slightly different title  (For example, a person clicking on "Character Education" might find out after reading that he's not quite got the right program and the eye scans left to see if another program is closer to his liking.  That internal navigation is easy to do within the program choices without having to go back to a main page to find links to subordinate pages.)    The hierarchy of the navigating links (the column on the left side) is clear and consistent:  Home / type of program (M.Ed. or Ed.D.) / various programs / certificates (lower level documents).  Program details (tuition, faculty, schedules) are not in the navigating bar but are placed in the text of the page.  That's because each page devoted to a program will have links to the program's specific faculty and schedules.    In case I wanted to get back to the university's main page, I just looked up and I could click on general categories (about us, programs, students, faculty, etc.).   It is clear that the web design has segregated navigation to program-specific issues on the left column and universal issues on the top bar -- good standard design.     On my second visit to the page I was able to find the Tuition button.  See comment below for the color issue of the link.   
  2. Does the site contain sufficient information to answer questions 1-10? If not, provide details.   ANSWER:  For many of the "comparative" details, I needed to contact a person or click deeper into the site.   "Comparative" details are those that might help the casual visitor to the site compare the university to another university.   There was a helpful feature ("Chat") where I could pose some of the questions.   I have found that many of the chat functions are performed by services overseas.  The chat conversation was seamless -- the person on the other end answered questions fairly quickly with short pauses.   In other words, it is clever marketing.  The designer of the content hid the answers for selected issues that might make a visitor balk and click away (cost of the program, number of students in the program).   The aim of the website is to get someone to contact the marketing department -- but not everybody.   The site serves as a filter to give just enough information to dissuade people who are just curious from making contact.  The key to a good site is to motivate a potential client to contact someone for more information -- at which point the "sales" function can work to individualize the message to the potential client.
  3. What is the most positive aspect of the Web site?   ANSWER:  Ko & Rossen (2010, pages 250-1) point out the key points:  simple background, not too many different fonts (this page has four fonts and each is a different size, making it clear that there is a different function for each font), not too many links and the page is not too long.   It is said that a beautiful face is average in all individual parts and that consistently "average" proportions leads to a beautiful composition.   The same for an attractive website.  As for content, the marketing department provided just enough to get me interested int he program and then I had to contact them to get the answers to the "comparative" questions (mentioned above).   Good balance between being helpful and trying to convert the casual visitor into making contact with the university's customer service department.
  4. What aspect of the site is most in need of improvement?   ANSWER: I would split the wide box of text into two columns where possible, following the design recommendation in Ko and Rossen (p. 251) "don't stretch your text completely across the page."    For readability, I would switch to a font with serifs, as recommended by Ko and Rossen.    I was surprised that some of the information that I ended up asking the "chat" person was in fact easily available on the page.   Tuition was a click away.   I think the link color should be darkened (perhaps redder).  My first scan of the page missed the word "Tuition" because I printed the page and the light yellow did not show up well on the paper.   Lesson:  an attractive color choice on the screen might not print well when a visitor uses the "draft toner selection" on the print menu.  A color choice that looks innovative or that contrasts with ordinary text might end up fading on the printed page. 


Submit completed paper to the instructor via Blackboard e-mail. Please give the e-mail and attachment a descriptive title, such as your name plus “research exercise.”






An email message from Regent University



From: Ashlea Lambert [mailto:alambert@regent.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 2:52 PM
To: jk33301@comcast.net
Subject: RE: questions about your program.

 

Hello JK,

 

I am happy to answer these questions for you. Here is a link to our site. All of this information is also on our website, for your convenience. http://www.regent.edu/acad/schedu/

 

1.     Regent has been offering all of the doctoral programs at a distance since they began in 2000. (The master’s programs began in the 80’s and we added Ed.D’s in 2000). The Distance Education Ed.D has been offered for that same stretch of time as a distance program.

2.     These courses utilize Blackboard. I have heard a few people say that Firefox is the best system to use for Blackboard. I had some issues personally with Safari and now that I use Firefox, it has been much smoother! You will want to have steady access to the internet so that you can keep up with your weekly posts and assignments. Whether that access is available to you through a desk-top or laptop is up to you and should not affect you either way.

3.     Over the whole program, there will be four times you will need to be on-campus: the program takes 3 years and each of the 3 summers you are in the program, there will be a week-long on-campus residency you must attend. These run for a full week in the middle of July. Also, you will need to come to campus one more time to give the final defense of your dissertation in person. This cannot be combined with the 3rd summer as the 3rd summer (at the beginning of your 3rd year of the program) is when you will take your comprehensive exams.

4.     The quickest an Ed.D program can be completed is 3 years. You have two years of coursework, and then the final year is when you work on your dissertation. Some students finish their dissertation in a year and some spread it out over a few years. The length of time your dissertation takes will depend on you. You have 7 years from the time you begin the program until you must complete it.

5.     We have a few accrediting bodies. http://www.regent.edu/acad/schedu/about/accreditation.cfm We are fully regionally and nationally recognized and accredited.

6.     We are a not for profit University. We have a brick and mortar campus and we work very hard to maintain good standing with all accrediting bodies. We were not created to just pull in money as some of the Universities you have probably heard about on the news were. We have dedicated faculty and staff whose goal is to provide a quality education. See the link above for more information on our accreditations.

7.     The typical class size per doctoral cognate is 15-30 students. You will get a lot of individual attention. A majority of our students take classes online, but we still work to keep class sizes very small.

8.     The tuition is $850 per credit hour. Our courses are 3 credits per course and this is a 60 credit-hour program.

 

I hope this helps you to get started! Please feel free to call or email me if you have any further questions. Glad to hear of your interest!

 

 

 

Ashlea Lambert, M. Ed.

Admissions Counselor

Regent University

School of Education

(757) 352-4136

 

Regent University - Christ-centered. Biblically-anchored. Academically Excellent.

 




NOTE:


This "About" page was found under a link on the ADMISSIONS page and off the HOME page (main page of the university).   Compare it to the ABOUT US that was found on the top of the navigation page on the School of Education subpage.













Here is the assignment as it appears in the Syllabus

Research Exercise (13 points)

Identify a specific graduate degree program in instructional technology, distance education, or both, that is offered entirely or primarily via distance education. Identify just one program at one university. Answer the following questions:


Part I: The institution and its programs (1 point each, unless otherwise indicated)

  1. List the name, mailing address, and website URL of the institution. [.5 point]

  2. What degrees and majors are offered in the identified program? For instance, NSU offers an Ed.D. in instructional technology and distance education. Florida State University offers an M.S. in instructional systems design. [.5 point]

  3. For how long has the institution been offering the identified program at a distance?

  4. What course delivery technologies are used? (Be specific: general terms such as “Web-based” are insufficient.)

  5. Is there a face-to-face component of instruction? If so, where is it conducted, and for what duration?

  6. How long does it take to earn a degree in the identified program? (Indicate either the briefest amount of time required or, preferably, the amount of time most students require.)

  7. Is the institution accredited? If so, by what organization? [.5 point]

  8. Is the institution public or private? If private, is it for-profit or not-for-profit? [.5 point]

  9. What is the total enrollment of the institution? How many students are enrolled in the identified distance-delivered program?

  10. What is the tuition (per course or per year)?

Be sure to cite your source for each answer.


Part II: The institution’s Web site (1 point each)

Critique the institution’s (or program’s) Web site, answering the following questions:

  1. How would you rate the visual appeal of the site? What elements are visually appealing, and which aspects are less so? Include screen shot(s) to illustrate.

  2. Is the site easily navigable and well-organized? Provide examples.

  3. Does the site contain sufficient information to answer questions 1-10? If not, provide details.

  4. What is the most positive aspect of the Web site?

  5. What aspect of the site is most in need of improvement?


Submit completed paper to the instructor via Blackboard e-mail. Please give the e-mail and attachment a descriptive title, such as your name plus “research exercise.”












Return to EDD 7007

Comments