LeagueTLC Innovation Express
Exploring Issues, Innovations,
and New Developments with Information Technology Professionals
the Virtual College
Mary Kay Kickels
Vice-President, Academic Affairs Moraine Valley Community
Providing options that meet student
needs is the primary objective of class schedule development at
Moraine Valley Community College. With the availability of Internet
technologies on campus in fall 1997, the college initiated planning
for the establishment of the Virtual College, an online class delivery
format. The goal was to provide not only classes, but also a full
complement of Web-based services to support students attending the
college in an electronic environment.
The development of a full service virtual environment involves more
than course development. Administrative polices and procedures must
be reviewed, and a variety of services made available to students
who register, attend class, and access support services electronically.
Planning for this project was initiated in fall 1997 with the goal
of having Internet-based courses on the schedule for the following
During the planning year, a team representing academic affairs,
information technology, and student development personnel met to
review student services needed to support online learning and to
audit academic and management issues as related to the delivery
of Internet classes.
While most college administrative practices easily applied to Internet
course delivery, there was extensive discussion on policies related
to class size, faculty load/compensation, and intellectual property.
The class size was established at 25 students (as compared to 32
in a traditionally delivered class); a similar ratio of 20/27 applies
to composition courses. For development of the course, faculty select
from two compensation options: release time equivalent to the credit
value of the course being converted for Internet delivery or a $3,000
stipend. Faculty may teach no more than two Internet sections in
any semester, and they are compensated at the same rate as negotiated
for other classes. The issue of intellectual property rights is
At the start of the Virtual College project, Web-based registration
was available, but most student services required enhancements to
provide an optimal Web-based learning environment. A student help
line was created to provide technical assistance. The Learning Resources
Center/Library expanded online services to include access to full-text
resources. Electronic textbook ordering was implemented. Online
counseling and advisement is in development to supplement the telephone
services currently available.
Moraine Valley Community College was selected as one of ten initial
partners in the Illinois Virtual Campus (IVC), an electronic catalog
of online courses and programs in the state of Illinois that aids
the college in the development and expansion of student resources.
Projects currently being piloted include online tutoring, a Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQ) website, and a tool to allow students to self-assess
readiness for the electronic environment. As an IVC partner, the
college has access to these resources through an agreement that
allows a district resident attending any Illinois college via the
Internet to use online and campus-based Moraine Valley services.
The development of the Internet-based curriculum is driven by a
combination of faculty interest in exploring new class delivery
techniques and student need. Earlier, the college established the
Learning Challenge Grant program, which provides seed monies for
faculty to explore new approaches to classroom delivery. With the
campus introduction of the Internet and the campus goal of creating
a virtual learning environment, the Challenge Grant format expanded
to include a specific focus on the development of Web-delivered
Applications for the Challenge Grants are accepted and reviewed
in the fall semester for implementation in spring. During the spring
semester the faculty members who are selected meet weekly for hands-on
instruction sessions conducted by a peer leader from the college's
Teaching/Learning Team. The class has a formal syllabus that covers
a variety of topics essential to Internet course development: content
delivery methods, course layout and design, and instruction in Front
Page, the software package currently in use for course delivery.
Staff from the Information Technology division assist as lab aides
and also provide an open lab session each week to assist faculty
with individual design issues. Toward the end of the semester, the
faculty members meet with their deans to review the ways content
delivery is structured and the ways course objectives are met. The
course is then demonstrated to all academic affairs administrators,
other virtual college faculty, and IT staff on Demo Day, a one-day
seminar held in mid-July. The recommended revisions are then incorporated
into the course in time for the fall semester course schedule.
Moraine Valley has successfully implemented the Virtual College,
supporting not only students whose schedules do not allow for campus-based
instruction, but also faculty interested in the alternative delivery
of course content.
More than 1,100 students have successfully completed course requirements
via the Internet. The Fall 2001 semester will open with 33 online
courses. The demand for multiple sections has expanded faculty interest
in teaching online and resulted in the development of new training
programs to assist faculty transitioning to online delivery of existing
courses. The college is moving rapidly toward an online associate's
degree and is working with departments to identify programs and
courses that can be successful in an online environment.
An unanticipated benefit of the Virtual College project has been
the focus on learning that the project has generated. Over the last
several years, Moraine Valley has truly become a Learning College,
as departments and their faculty members explore and discuss the
components of Web-based course delivery and the creation of a new
learning environment that meets the needs of today's students.
Moraine Valley Community College believes that its Virtual College
efforts are reaching students who would be unable to take courses
at the college were it not for the opportunity to do so online.
Increased enrollments have been seen in core courses, and multiple
sections of these courses are being offered to new students. While
the development efforts of Moraine Valley's Virtual College offerings
have involved expenditures for this process, it is believed that,
in the long run, the college will continue to see enrollment increases
in these online courses.
Evidence of the significance of Moraine Valley's Virtual College
project was given by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB),
which acknowledged the college with the ICCB Award for Excellence
in Learning-Centered Instruction.
For additional information, please contact:
Mary Kay Kickels
Vice President, Academic Affairs