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Feb 28, 2019

Episode 24: Faculty Discuss the Online Academic Unit


In July 2018, a panel made up of campus and systems office representatives presented recommendations to the College’s Executive Council and Cabinet related to work done as a part of the hubs. The Executive Council and Cabinet endorsed the team’s recommendations - agreeing that in order to improve student success and the effectiveness of Ivy Tech’s online course delivery a wider team of people needed to do further study of online courses and make recommendations for how to proceed.  That work began in earnest in August of 2018 under the name “Online Academic Unit.” In today’s episode we talk with four faculty directly engaged with the Online Academic Unit work to hear their perspectives on the work.


Call To Action

Review the OAU Mission, Vision, and Objectives as well as the Alpha Implementation Information (see below).  Ask questions if you have them, either to your campus representative(s) on the OAU, one of our guests or Kara and Matthew.


Get In Touch!

  • You can reach out to our panel:
    • Claire Maxson
    • Sarah Shepler
    • Kevin Smith
    • Justin Suer
  • You can connect with Kara Monroe on twitter @KNMTweets
  • You can connect with Anne Valentine on twitter @indypenny
  • Episode producer for this episode - Matthew Pittman
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  • Thanks as always to Jen Edds at The Brassy Broadcasting Company. Jen provides our theme music, recording, and post production services.


Online Academic Unit
Alpha Project Overview

As part of our hub analysis work we looked at the distance education system for the college.  That analysis work took 7 months and included 48 campus faculty and staff and 21 systems office staff.  The team developed a series of recommendations which would change the way we operate in regards to online courses and believed it to be appropriate to vet the recommendations with the Vice Chancellors for Academic Affairs, Chancellors, and the President’s Cabinet members.  We scheduled a special session on July 31 where the hub team presented their recommendations. Following the presentation, we engaged participants in a facilitated discussion around what they liked about the recommendation, what opportunities they noticed, and a lengthy discussion on benefits and challenges of this new proposed model.
The recommendation that the team brought forward is to create an Online Academic Unit.  This unit would create a new academic department that is responsible for the scheduling, development, and delivery of all online courses at Ivy Tech.  This new model will allow us to consolidate online course support to a single statewide unit. This consolidation will allow all students, faculty, and staff to receive the same level of support regarding course development and course delivery.

In that July 31 meeting, the recommendations were accepted and the group determined that the project should be moved into a second analysis phase rather than implementation. Since late August of 2018 eleven teams plus a steering committee have been engaged in a large scale restructure project as we consider the hub team recommendations and develop the Online Academic Unit. The project has been moving at a consistent pace and we intend to have portions of it moved into implementation by Fall of 2019 – that is what we want to update you on today.  This is an alpha implementation of the Online Academic Unit which will allow a smaller group of students, faculty and staff to experience this model and to provide direct input and feedback on the model. This alpha phase will launch in Fall of 2019.

Programmatic Models
Ivy Tech has sixteen programs approved for distance delivery.  Of these, two are approved only for distance delivery. These are MPRO (Manufacturing, Production, and Operations) and LIBR (Library Technical Assistant). Both years one and two of the programmatic courses of these two programs will begin operating within the Online Academic Unit model.
Additionally, many of the programs in the School of IT are currently offered online. Program courses in the 2019-2020 first semester sequence of these programs will begin operating within the Online Academic Unit model.
Only the additional liberal arts/general education courses described below under course based models will transition to the Online Academic Unit for the alpha launch in Fall 2019.

Course Based Models

Ivy Tech’s model for online delivery has long emphasized courses over programs. Therefore, beginning to transition courses into this model on an individual basis has historical logic. This model also aligns with the College’s role as a provider for the iCAP initiative. The college will move all courses currently approved for delivery under the iCAP model, with the exception of ENGL 111, to the Online Academic Unit for the alpha launch in Fall 2019. The specific courses in the iCAP model are currently being updated, but at this time the courses this will impact are BIOL 101, COMM 101, HUMA 118, MATH 136, POLS 101, SDEV 120.