2007 Distance Education Survey Results - Tracking the Impact of E-Learning at Community Colleges

Article excerpt

A REPORT OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL (ITC)

Introduction

ITC created this annual survey in response to the growing need for national data related to distance education program creation and development, and for key issues related to faculty and students. ITC set out to develop a survey instrument that would track national data and trends longitudinally and generate specific data regarding real and relevant problems facing emerging and established e-learning programs for administrators and campus leaders. In fall 2004, the ITC board of directors created a set of relevant questions, and devised a survey instrument and strategy for this annual national survey. They limited the number of questions so respondents could complete it within a reasonable time frame. They conducted their first survey in spring 2005. They revised and adjusted the more burdensome and time-consuming questions and submitted a new survey to ITC members in fall 2005. In fall 2006, they distributed the survey to members of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

How the Survey was Conducted

The questions are divided into four categories-general information, administration, faculty, and students. ITC sent an e-mail invitation to all of the designated institutional representatives identified in the ITC membership and to the AACC members who had responded to the 2006 survey, who were not already ITC members, to a total of 500 institutions.

ITC used an open-source solution-PHP Surveyor-as the platform for the survey. Representatives from 154 institutions completed the 2007 survey. Statistically, the respondents represented an appropriate cross-section based on 1) the number of responding institutions, 2) the regional distribution of responding institutions, and 3) the type of responding institution (based on the categories outlined in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Educationwww.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications).

Distribution of Results

The final results were presented in February 2008 at ITC's annual meeting at e-Learning 2008 in St. Petersburg, FIa. Members of the ITC board of directors presented the results in a special forum at the AACC Annual Convention in April 2008 Philadelphia, Penn. (they made similar presentations in April 2006 in Long Beach, Calif, and in April 2007 in Tampa, FIa.). ITC will distribute the results to those who completed the survey, to ITC members, and to the presidents of all AACC-member institutions.

The Data

Respondents completed 154 surveys out of the initial distribution of slightly more than 500-a 30 percent response rate. The completed surveys were reviewed to ensure a representative sample of AACC-and ITC-member institutions participated, confirming an acceptable response rate (154/500) with an acceptable distribution based on size and location of institutions. The survey questions are sorted into four categories: general information, administration, faculty, and students. The individual completing the survey on behalf of his or her institution was usually the distance education administrator.

Institutions Surveyed

Most of the respondents identified themselves as Associate's colleges (95.45 percent) or Associate's dominant colleges (3.25 percent). Of the 154 respondents, only two identified themselves in other Carnegie categories (based on the categories outlined in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education-www.carnegiefoundation.org/classificatio ns).

Distance Education Enrollment Growth

Respondents reported comparative enrollment trends in distance education for Fall 2005 to Fall 2006 (the most recent full year of data available for most colleges in November 2007).

Campuses reported a 15 percent increase from fall-to-fall for distance education enrollments for the 2006 survey, substantially ahead of overall campus enrollments which averaged two percent nationally. …

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